Meridian’s Simon Burkett may get a quick chance to return to top pitching form if fellow junior Warren Utschynski can next keep the Trojans alive in the postseason while approximating the style he used to pitch the Trojans’ only no-hitter of the season.
Burkett, the Trojans’ ace, suffered five unearned runs among the nine he allowed in the first three innings of Meridian’s 15-2 loss to Overlake-Bear Creek on Monday in the semifinals of the Class 1A Northwest Bi-District Tournament on Monday at Joe Martin Field.
Meridian (11-11) came in bolstered by Utschynski’s no-hitter Saturday as the Trojans opened bi-district play with a 5-0 win over Sultan.
“But we didn’t play well today,” Meridian coach Steve Slesk said. “Our program is at the stage where if we don’t make it to state, we feel we haven’t done our job.”
WHAT IT MEANS
Meridian will face Bush in the loser-out consolation semifinals Saturday at 12:30 at Joe Martin. If the Trojans survive, they will play at 3 p.m. on the same field against the survivor of the other consolation final between Lynden Christian and South Whidbey (see separate story about the Lyncs’ 13-0 loss to Cedar Park Christian).
Only the winner of the consolation bracket will advance to the state regionals from the Northwest Bi-District Tournament along with Cedar Park Christian (20-2) and Overlake (19-2), both state title hopefuls.
Slesk said Utschynski will start against Bush. If Meridian wins, Slesk said Burkett will get the nod in the consolation final, with a state regional berth at stake.
Telly Lundquist, a junior right-hander, nicely spaced seven hits for maximum efficiency in Overlake’s 4 1/2 inning win, with the 10-run rule. He needed only 78 pitches.
The only Trojan with two hits was cleanup batter Cole Weidkamp, who singled in the fourth, advanced on Baker Otter’s single and scored on a grounder by Dawson Phillips. Hits by Bryson Hickok and pinch-hitter Matthew Belanger set up Weidkamp’s run-scoring hit in the fifth.
Meridian struck out only once against Lundquist, but he walked only two. The only hit he allowed in the first three innings – during which the Trojans fell behind 9-0 – was a double to the right-center fence by Lukas Hemenway.
Meridian’s Quinn Swanson also had a single, giving the Trojans six players with hits.
“I felt we swung the bats pretty well,” said Slesk. “Overlake (which also handed Meridian a 13-1 non-league loss last month) is definitely the best team we have faced all season, and we play in a very tough league.”
“It’s been too much of a roller-coaster season,” said Slesk, whose team came into the bi-district semifinals with 125 runs scored and 112 allowed. “But there is no doubt our guys can do it (win two games to keep their season alive).”
Every Overlake starter had at least one hit and one run and six drove in runs as Overlake amassed 15 hits, including 3 for 4 with three runs scored by Ryan Long. No. 5 batter Neal Sivadas hit a run-scoring triple in the first inning, a run-scoring single in the second and a double in the fourth. Lundquist also had two RBIs.
Overlake’s No. 3 batter, college shortstop prospect Peter Dudunakis, saved a run with a brilliant inning-ending play in the third. He went 2 for 3 including a two-run single, but he had to leave after he injured his leg while rounding first base in the third inning.