Grizzlies hope to ride pitching depth in regionals

Boasting a pitching staff well-suited to a one-day tournament, Hoquiam is entering Saturday’s baseball regionals with confidence.

The Grizzlies (15-8) will face Cedar Park Christian of Bothell at 1 p.m. Saturday in a regional Class 1A tournament at Anacortes’ Volunteer Field.

Evergreen 1A League rival Rochester takes on Coupeville in the tourney opener at 10 a.m. The semifinal winners will then collide for the regional championship approximately 45 minutes after the completion of the second game.

The survivor advances to the state semifinals May 30 at Yakima.

While the lowest-seeded team in the tournament, Hoquiam has the pitching depth traditionally associated with regional success.

The Grizzlies possess three quality starters in left-handers Sammy Lowder (2-3 record, 2.63 earned run average in league play) and freshman Skyler Jump (3-1, 1.91 ERA) and right-hander Kyle Standstipher (6-0, 2.62 ERA).

Hoquiam coach Steve Jump is leaning toward starting Lowder, the most experienced of the trio, against Cedar Park Christian but said he won’t hesitate to make a change if necessary. He is not a believer in the practice of holding out a pitching ace for the regional championship game.

“I won’t be saving anyone for the second game,” he asserted. “When we see one of our pitchers in trouble, we’re going to get the next guy. You can’t worry about game two until you win game one.”

Senior Joel Brydon leads the Grizzlies in hitting with a .418 batting average and 21 runs batted in. Tristan Stutesman is batting .418, Josh Bishop .417 with 10 doubles, Jerod Steen .383 and Blake Kelly .300.

An explosive-hitting team early in the season, the Grizzlies relied more on small-ball tactics later on.

“At this level, I think it comes down to the team that makes fewer mistakes,” Jump said. “We’re going to play small ball until we can get the lead and take the pressure off our pitchers.”

Ranked sixth in the state Class 1A baseball poll, Cedar Park Christian won the Nisqually League championship for the second straight season and nabbed the top seed in a Northwest Tri-District Tournament.

The Cougars have a pair of well-regarded pitchers of their own in Josh Steventon and Josh Thompson.

“I was told they have two hard throwers, they have a solid defense and their lineup, one through six, are real solid hitters,” said Jump, who was still gathering information on the Bothell club. “I hear they don’t see many lefties, so I plan for them see ours.”

Although Hoquiam managed only a split in four district games, Jump believes his club is playing well entering regionals.

“The kids play with a lot of confidence behind our pitchers,” the Hoquiam coach said. “We’re very confident — not arrogant confident, but confident we can get to Yakima. I think we do have the whole package.”


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