Bellevue Newport pitcher Ryan Kingma admitted he didn’t even think about throwing a no-hitter against Gig Harbor in the Class 4A baseball state semifinals until he looked up at the Joe Martin Field scoreboard heading out for the bottom of the seventh inning.
That’s about all the time Kingma had to think about it, as Jon Burghardt blasted his first offering of the frame over the right-field wall.
“My coaches talked about first-pitch strikes, and that kid had obviously hit a great one earlier in the game, and this time he decided to see how far he could hit it, and that was a pretty bad decision on my part,” Kingma said.
The mistake — one of the few Kingma made Friday, May 29 — was easy to laugh about after the game, as Kingma and the Knights advanced to a 4 p.m. showdown with South Kitsap on Saturday for the 4A state title with a 4-1 win.
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After Burghardt’s rocket, Kingma’s teammates surrounded him on the mound.
“Basically they brought up the fact that we had just scored three insurance runs and they were helping me out,” Kingma said. “Obviously our defense is a really good one. If I kept making them put it in play, they were going to make the plays for me. I’m really lucky to have some great teammates.”
Though he appreciated his teammates’ support, the Whitworth University recruit decided to finish it off himself, striking out the next three batters — his fifth, sixth and seventh of the night — to give Newport a chance to play for its first state title since 2006.
“Ryan has been special all year,” Newport coach Brad Files said. “We were very confident going in that if he pitches his game, we’re at least going to be in it. He did his job. He’s done pitching for Newport — 9-0 this year, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s been our rock this year.”
He needed to be a rock on Friday, because Gig Harbor’s Matthew Henckel was equal to Kingma, as he also had a no-hitter going through the first four innings.
If not for back-to-back errors on the first two batters of the game, which allowed Newoport’s Ethan Paul to score, the game would have been knotted at 0.
Vinny Guinasso’s two-out infield single in the top of the fifth was the first base hit either team had and plated Paul with the second run of the game.
Paul then tripled and scored one of two Newport runs in the top of the seventh, giving Kingma and the Knights all the cushion they would need to head to the title game.
“Very excited,” Kingma said of playing for the title. “Obviously that’s a really good team. Hopefully we can pull it out tomorrow.”
Newport 4, Gig Harbor 1
WP: Ryan Kingma (9-0). LP: Matthew Henckel. Highlights: Newport: Ethan Paul 1-3, 3 R, SB; Jace Goforth 3 SB, R; Vinny Guinasso 1-2, RBI. Gig Harbor: Jon Burghardt 1-3, HR.