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Sumner explodes in sixth to beat rival Puyallup, advance to 4A state championship game

JON MANLEY/jon.manley@thenewstribune.com

Tied 1-1 against rival Puyallup in the sixth inning of the Class 4A state baseball tournament semifinal at Funko Field in Everett on Friday, it felt like one run might be just enough for Sumner to cling to, considering the Spartans had Oregon commit Jacob Bresnahan on the mound.

Instead, the floodgates opened and the Spartans got four. Sean Ryan, Sumner’s No. 9 hitter, delivered the go-ahead RBI single, plating two. Bradley Carl and Bresnahan added two more insurance runs with singles in the same frame, giving Sumner a 5-1 lead, which would prove more than enough in the 5-1 win, which sends the Spartans through to Saturday night’s state championship game.

“I know (Puyallup reliever Mason) Pike is going to be pretty heavy fastball,” Ryan said. “He throws it pretty well. I was just looking for that. I got a couple fastballs outside and they got called for strikes. I knew he was going to come back with one and I was ready to go, send it into right field and score some runs.”

Chase Kreuger opened the sixth inning with a standup leadoff double, chasing Puyallup starter Brett Ellingson. Sumner’s Brayden Adcox worked a full count against Pike before hitting a single. Then Walker Nixon walked, loading the bases and setting the stage for Ryan to start the scoring.

Bresnahan, who has been one of the state’s best pitchers this spring, was dominant in the win, pitching a complete-game seven innings, giving up just three hits and striking out nine Puyallup batters.

“I was feeling myself, to say the least,” Bresnahan said, grinning. “I just wanted to attack. I knew they were a good team, they’ve hit me around before. I knew I had to throw a lot more offspeed. The first two times, I was very fastball heavy.”

This time around, he attacked early with his curveball, complementing his fastball and plus changeup.

“He’s been so in control of the moments,” said Sumner coach Casey Adcox. “That goes back to the amount of time he’s put in. Poised, I thought his curveball was really good early on and that set up his fastball pretty well.

“They saw that curveball and they were like, ‘(Shoot), now we’ve got to defend three of them.’ At the end, we got the lead and just rode the fastball.”

Puyallup catcher and Stanford commit Kai Halstead opened the scoring with an RBI single in the fourth inning. Sumner’s Bradley Carl scored on a fielder’s choice double play to tie the game in the fifth inning.

Beating 4A South Puget Sound League and valley rival Puyallup to reach the program’s first-ever state championship game made it even sweeter for the Spartans’ players and coaching staff.

“In the valley, we take it serious against Puyallup,” Ryan said. “We love it. It doesn’t get any bigger than this. We wanted this one from the start, we knew it meant a lot to us, we got it done, the whole team.”

Twice before (2012, 2016), Sumner had advanced to the state semifinal round, but lost both times. With the win, Sumner evened the overall series with Puyallup this season, with two wins apiece. Adcox said the 4A SPSL has helped prepare his team for state tournament baseball.

“South Sound’s strong,” Adcox said. “These games, our league games prepare us for this.”

Sumner will face the winner of Tahoma vs. top-seeded Eastlake in the 4A state championship game at Funko Field in Everett at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

No. 1 Eastlake 5, No. 5 Tahoma 1

Eastlake jumped all over Tahoma pitcher Logan Pierce early, scoring a run in the second inning and four runs in the third inning to beat the Bears, 5-1 and advance to the 4A state championship game, where the Wolves will meet the Sumner Spartans.

Tahoma got on the board first, when UW commit and catcher Carson Ohland — the No. 1 rated recruit in the state in the 2023 class — hit a sacrifice fly to score leadoff hitter Jack Dodge in the first inning.

“I gave up one run in my last outing, too,” said Eastlake pitcher and Oregon State commit Bryce Johnson. “It was also the first inning. I hate to say it, but I’m kind of used to it, giving up a run in the first. I just had to dig deep, I know I can trust my team.”

Johnson’s trust in his teammates was well placed, as Eastlake answered almost immediately. Wolves’ right fielder Blake Borup smashed an RBI double to the base of the center field wall to tie the game at 1-1 in the second inning. In the third, Bryce Johnson knocked in a run on a single, before shortstop Luke Murawski hit his second double of the day to give the Bears a 4-1 lead. Borup added an insurance run on a single, giving the Wolves a four-run lead.

And after stumbling a bit in the first inning, Johnson got into a groove, working through a seven-inning complete game on just 75 pitches, striking out six and giving up just four hits.

“The first pitch offspeed, it really helped keep people off balance,” Johnson said. “The fastball was just that much more effective when I can spin a breaking ball first pitch. They can’t just sit fastball first pitch.”

Eastlake will face Sumner in the 4A state championship game at Funko Field in Everett at 7 p.m. on Saturday.