Extra notes: Skyview baseball
It’s Championship Saturday. Team titles will be determined in softball, boys soccer, track and field, tennis, and baseball. The Skyview Storm have their shot in baseball, but they have to wait a long, long time to see if that will happen. Most of the other sports are scheduled to be done by the time the 4A state baseball game is played at 7 p.m. So while you wait, here are a few notes on Skyview baseball.
Ace: Earlier this season, the Storm told me the key to their success is the number of arms on the team. They don’t just have one guy who is solid and then a bunch of others filling innings. They have several top-notch pitchers.
Still, it is clear who their ace is, especially now in the postseason.
Ian Hamilton got the start and gave up no earned runs in the opener of the bi-district tournament — a win over Kentridge. Last week, against second-ranked Gonzaga Prep in the opening round of the state tournament, Hamilton got the start and gave up zero earned runs in a 3-1 victory. Then on Friday, in the state semifinals, Hamilton got the start and threw a shutout — over Kentridge.
Hamilton struck out the side in order in the first inning, and the Chargers did not fare much better the rest of the night, managing two hits.
“One, we were pretty focused all week. It carried over today,” Skyview coach Eric Estes said. “It does help having a legitimate No. 1 on the bump. That always make things a little nicer. He did a great job of pounding the strike zone.”
His teammates also have confidence playing behind Hamilton.
“He’s a dude,” Brian Valentine said. “I wouldn’t say it’s different than other pitchers (on the team), but if he walks a few guys, we’re like, ‘Ian’s got this. We’re alright.'”
Hamilton struck out 10 in his five-inning complete game. He did not need to pitch more because the Skyview offense scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth to end the game via the 10-run rule.
Just doing my job: Brian Valentine drove in the first run of the game for the Storm, and the last. The first run, one could argue, was more important. After all, getting a lead in a playoff game is key. Making a game 10-0 is just gravy.
That first hit set the tone. Curtis Perrin and Alec Chaney each drew a walk, and with two outs, Valentine smacked the ball to right field, scoring Perrin.
“I wanted to do it, and I expected to do it,” Valentine said. “I train for this stuff. It’s kind of rewarding, but you should have done it. It’s like, Good job for doing your job.”
A lot of the Storm did their jobs in the clutch. With two outs, Skyview was 7 for 11 with 7 RBIs.
Hey, do that again: No one knew if James Brooks would be able to play. He suffered a terrible injury to his ankle on Monday and did not practice the rest of the week. Against doctor’s orders, he said, he suited up and tried to convince the coaches he could play.
As noted in my game story, Brooks was not in Estes’ original lineup that he gave to WIAA officials before the game.
“He hadn’t done anything all week. He had to prove to me,” Estes said.
So, during pre-game warm-ups, Brooks, with his left ankle in a brace, looked good enough. Estes changed the lineup, and Brooks had two hits and drove in two runs.
“For what he did out there, sprain your ankle more often,” Estes said with a smile.
History: The following is a list of all-time wins for Skyview baseball in the state playoff prior to this year:
<Cricket noises here>
Oh, that’s right. There are none.
Congrats to the Storm. No matter what happens tonight, three wins in the state playoffs is special. Especially for a program that had not even experienced one win in the state playoffs.