TACOMA – Gonzaga Prep earned its chance to take down the kings, er, the Vikings.
A victory over Battle Ground early on Saturday gave the Bullpups a spot opposite the state’s top-ranked 4A, and undefeated, baseball squad from Puyallup.
Each team made first-game decisions on the mound to save their aces for the day’s final. Justin Blatner and Zach Heimlich didn’t disappoint.
Blatner went 6 1/3 innings and allowed just four hits to the Vikings, but he took the loss in a 2-0 defeat at Heidelberg Park. Heimlich, bound for Oregon State next year, threw a complete-game three-hitter and struck out seven Bullpups along the way.
“We would have liked to play them in the next round,” G-Prep coach Brian Munhill said. “But we played our way into this.”
The next round is the state semis Friday in Richland.
Gonzaga Prep did play its way into the quarterfinals with a dominating, 11-1 victory over Battle Ground earlier Saturday.
In saving Blatner for the quarterfinal, Munhill turned to Steven Machtolf. He responded with a four-hitter, giving up just one run in the top of the sixth after his offense had built a 5-0 lead.
After the Tigers scored in the top half, Gonzaga Prep responded with six runs in the bottom of the inning to finish it off under the 10-run rule.
Anthony Gosline, Prep’s leadoff hitter, went 3 for 3 in the win, reached on a walk in the first inning, scored four runs, drove in another in that big sixth inning and even stole a base.
In all, the Bullpups collected 16 hits against Battle Ground. They managed just the three against the Vikings.
“We knew it was going to be tough today,” Puyallup coach Marc Wiese said. “We didn’t want to see Gonzaga Prep in the round of eight.”
Puyallup scored twice in the top of the fifth, getting just two hits in the inning, to support Heimlich, who scored the winning run after his double.
“That was a damn good baseball game,” Munhill said. “A lot of pressure on high school kids. A mistake or two bit us. You’ve got to play a little cleaner. Puyallup is the top-ranked team in the state.”