In a game the magnitude of Squalicum’s Class 2A State Tournament semifinal against Selah, margin for error is razor thin.
And Storm coach John Inge was straight to the point with his reason for Squalicum’s postseason winning streak ending one game away from a state title appearance.
“They got more clutch hits than we did,” Inge said. “That is kind of the bottom line.”
Twice the Storm had a runner at third with one or no outs but couldn’t push him across. Meanwhile, Selah came up with the timely hits Squalicum desired.
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Ace David Stealy was tagged for the most runs any team has scored against him during his brilliant career, Inge said, and the Storm took a 6-3 loss Friday, May 29, under the hot sun at Yakima County Stadium in Yakima.
Squalicum (20-7) had reeled off five straight postseason wins before Friday’s contest and was riding a couple of program firsts — the first Storm team to advance to state and the first club to win a state tournament regional.
The Storm’s first time competing for a state title will have to wait.
“I knew every hitter in the lineup was good, so I was just trying to keep it low, and it didn’t come out the way we wanted it,” Stealy said.
The right-handed senior threw all seven innings, giving up 12 hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
All the breaks Squalicum caught during its quarterfinal win against Anacortes last weekend seemed to go the opposite way against Selah.
“We may have used up all our second lives last week,” Inge said. “Every close play, we didn’t get a call. Not that they were wrong; they should even out. It’s seems like it was 3-0 in favor of them.”
One of those crucial calls came in the bottom of the third with Squalicum trailing 2-0 after Selah scored twice in the top of the first.
Connor Sage broke for home on a passed ball with the bases loaded and no outs, but Sage was called out on the play that seemed too close to call.
Fortunately for Squalicum, Stealy delivered the club’s lone clutch hit of the game — a two-out, two-RBI single that scored Ernie Yake and Kyle Little to tie the contest at 2-2.
“We did respond a couple times, and that is something we pride ourselves on is being resilient,” Inge said.
Selah broke the tie in the top of the fifth courtesy of the Vikings’ No. 5 hitter, Josh Yarbrough, who connected for his second RBI triple to put Selah in front 3-2.
But the big blow to Squalicum came the following inning.
Stealy had struck out the leadoff batter, got the second hitter to ground out and the Storm seemed poised to get out of the inning down one run before Selah orchestrated a crushing two-out rally.
Stealy gave up back-to-back singles before hitting a batter to load the bases. Then first baseman Clark Streby hit a two-RBI single through the left side of the infield.
“They made us pay and gosh, on top of that, we just didn’t clutch a couple of times when we had chances,” Inge said.
Josh Holcomb scored on a couple of Selah throwing errors in the bottom of the six to trim the lead to 5-3, but the Vikings got the run back in the top of the seventh.
With the loss, Squalicum will have to quickly turn the page for a third-place game Saturday, May 30.
As the team was heading down the right-field line for its postgame talk, a fan congratulated the team on a good season. Carter Nickelson and another Storm player quickly reminded the fan they weren’t done yet.
“We’ll just forget about this game and get out and get ready to go tomorrow,” Stealy said.
Stealy finished 1 for 3 with his two RBI, Little went 1 for 2 with a double, two walks and a run scored and catcher Ben Tripp logged two base hits.
Squalicum will play Liberty, who lost to Centralia in the other 2A semifinal, for third at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 30, at Yakima County Stadium.
Selah 6, Squalicum 3
WP: Kyle Dexter. LP: David Stealy. Highlights: Squalicum: David Stealy 1-3, 2 RBI; Kyle Little 1-2, 2B, 2 BB, R; Josh Holcomb 1-2, BB, R. Selah: Clark Streby 2-4, 3 RBI, R; Josh Yarbrough 2-4, 2 3B, 2 RBI; Dac Archer 2-5, R.