ANACORTES - Squalicum Storm junior ace David Stealy knew all he needed was a little run support, and he'd lead his club to the next round of the Class 2A Bi-District Tournament.
Stealy was purely dominant, and his performance warranted such confidence.
He kept Sehome off-balance and off the scoreboard for seven innings, struck out a season-high 11 batters and gave up only three hits.
"Gosh, when he gives up a hit, it's like a personal attack to him," Squalicum coach John Inge said. "You'll notice, he gets upset and then refocuses and gets the job done. He pitched a whale of a game."
Sehome's hits were sparse, but Squalicum's also were thanks to Mariners senior Josh Zavisubin. Each club recorded just three hits.
But in a pitcher's duel featuring two of the best in the Northwest Conference, Squalicum's Kyle Little came up with the minor piece of offense Stealy needed, and the Storm escaped elimination with a 1-0 win Tuesday, May 13, at Daniels Field in Anacortes.
Squalicum (16-5) next will face Anacortes in a Class 2A Bi-District winner-to-state, loser-out game at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 17, at Daniels Field. The loss ended Sehome's season.
Little hit a triple to right-center with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, and Tim Lann followed with an RBI bloop-single just over Zavisubin's head that Inge called lucky and Sehome coach Gary Hatch said is "something you chew on the rest of your life."
It was all Squalicum needed with Stealy pitching the way he was.
"I knew I was going to shut them out the rest of the game, "Stealy said, "so it was a great confidence booster to get that one run."
Following a leadoff single to Sehome's Jake Albert to start the game, Stealy struck out the next six straight. He struck out at least one batter during each of the final four innings.
His curveball was breaking hard, he pitched with tremendous command and he had enough velocity to sneak pitches past Sehome (13-9).
"It was just my spots," Stealy said. "The umpire was giving me the outside corner, so I just painted it all day long."
Stealy didn't walk any batters. Albert had two singles, and Drew Lomsdalen also had as single in sixth inning.
Both Inge and Hatch praised Ben Tripp for the game he called behind the plate.
Stealy earned the win, but Zavisubin was equally as deserving.
The senior struck out six hitters, walked one and only gave up three hits in six innings of work.
"He pitched plenty good," Hatch said. "We just didn't clutch up with the bats. That's kind of been our problem all year long. We've left a lot of guys out there."
Besides Little and Lann, only Carter Nickelson with a third-inning single got a hit of Zavisubin.
Runs have come at a premium for both Squalicum and Sehome during the club's first two district games. Squalicum was shutout 4-0 during its opening-round loss to Lake Washington, and Sehome lost to Archbishop Murphy 2-1 during its first game.
The Mariners have won games with pitching this year and minimal run production, but the Storm's lack of offense is more suspect. Its hitting for a team average of .336.
"Offensively, we are a pretty good team," Inge said. "We have just run into two great pitchers. We're due to break out the bats and make it a little easier on our pitchers."
Squalicum is hoping that breakthrough comes Saturday with a state berth on the line.
While Sehome ended its season Tuesday, Hatch said the club accomplished a lot with its young roster.
"The games we've played in league to get here, they were all dog fights," Hatch said, "so that puts some bark on these guys' skin. That exposure to the experience of being in those situations will only help us in the future, and I'm really proud of our guys. I mean, we've got a lot of mileage out of our young guys."
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
SQUALICUM 1, SEHOME 0
Sehome 000 100 0 - 1 3 1
Squalicum 000 000 x - 0 3 0
WP: David Stealy. LP: Josh Zavisubin. Highlights: Seh - Jake Albert 2-3, SB; Drew Lomsdalen 1-3. Sq - Kyle Little 1-3, 3B, R; Tim Lann 1-2, RBI, SB; Carter Nickelson 1-2.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.