Last night was prom night for Mount Si High School, and for many of the school’s seniors, it was undoubtedly a memorable experience they will never forget. But for the seniors who are part of the Wildcat baseball team, the memories made at the prom only add to the memories they will have of a season that now sees them on the way possibly to another state title, their second in three years if they get it done, after winning the regional round in Bellevue yesterday.
Mount Si seniors Chase Kairis (left) and Connor Swift (right) are seen here as they got ready to take their dates to the Mount Si High School prom last night in Seattle. The two Wildcat baseball starting pitchers both threw very well yesterday, helping Mount Si make it back to the state baseball semifinals for the second time in three years. (Courtesy photo)
Mount Si opened the day with a first-round matchup against North Thurston. Things started out well enough, as senior pitcher Chase Kairis shut down the Rams bats for the first five-plus innings and the Wildcats were able to take advantage of North Thurston mistakes, but after the Rams tied it in the sixth, things got interesting. Real interesting.
Mount Si overcame that bump in the road, and some controversy, and posted a dramatic win thanks to hustle and heart.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Nick Adams hit a ground ball to short and Brian Woolley, who had been on first, reached second base safely ahead of an attempted force out to score Joey Cotto and give the Wildcats the 3-2 victory. “We battled the whole game,” said an elated Mount Si coach Zach Habben.
The bases loaded situation was set up largely by a controversial incident at the plate during the at-bat for Evan Johnson. With two strikes, Johnson swung and missed for the third strike and what should have been the third out, but NT catcher Matt Zeutenhorst dropped the ball, allowing Johnson a chance to go to first. Johnson appeared to have contact with the dropped ball, but umpires ruled it to be a live ball, with no batter’s interference. This infuriated several Rams players and coaches, but none were ejected from the contest. The Wildcat senior reached first safely, then Woolley walked to load the bases for Adams, who knew what he wanted to see from North Thurston pitcher Tyler Ridgeway.
“He was throwing pretty well and I was just kind of sitting there waiting for a curveball,” Adams said, and the Wildcat hitter hit a ground ball which hopped up quite high in the air, and the Rams’ shortstop fielded it and threw it to second base in an attempt to get the out, but Woolley slid in underneath the tag and that allowed Cotto to score from third base with the winning run, much to the surprise and elation of the large Mount Si fan section, which enveloped most of the seating behind home plate and all of the bleacher sections on the first base side at Bannerwood Park.
The dramatic finish overshadowed what was a very strong outing from Kairis, who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and finished with a two-hit complete game effort, in which he walked just three and struck out four. The two runs he gave up were both unearned, allowing his earned run average to drop to 1.39, keeping him among the best on the Eastside. “Just wanted to go out there, pound the strike zone, (and) throw strikes. Wanted to make sure I could locate all my pitches,” Kairis said. “He’s been doing a good job all year,” Habben said.
Kairis told the SVSJ he has a few offers from colleges, but is looking at going to a community college this fall. “I want to work my way up,” he said. His CC of interest appears to be Skagit Valley up in Mount Vernon.
After the game, the Mount Si team was treated to a nice lunch on the field, then following that, they got right back to work and played upstart Meadowdale from Lynnwood for the regional crown; the Wesco’s Mavericks pulled the upset of the first round at any of the regionals, downing a strong Peninsula team in the early semifinal to earn their regional final spot. And the boys from up north did their best to challenge the dominant Wildcat side, but a big inning from Mount Si proved to be the difference, and off to the Tri-Cities go the ‘Cats after getting it done once again.
After Meadowdale tied the game with a run each in the third and fourth innings following two early Mount Si runs, the Wildcats scored five runs in the fifth and then rode the strong arm of Connor Swift the rest of the way and delivered a 7-2 win.
A Connor Jensen double that scored two runs keyed the fifth-inning onslaught; he finished 2-4 with the two RBI’s and a run scored, and he also had two hits, with a double, in the win over North Thurston. Swift pitched a solid seven innings, giving up two runs – one earned – on seven hits, striking out three, and dropping his ERA to 2.42, also very strong. Look for Mount Si to be in a great position to win the whole thing next weekend with Swift and Kairis on the mound.
Breshears went 3-4 to lead the Wildcats in the victory over the Mavericks; he also scored two runs.
After the game, many of the Wildcats, Swift and Kairis included, went home to get ready for prom, and they were all on cloud nine, that’s for sure. Mount Si is slated to meet West Seattle in the semifinals next Friday at 10am at GESA Stadium in Pasco, and there should be a live webcast of the contest available; more information on that will be available during the upcoming week.