Spartan shortstop Brandt Gilbertson swallowed up a ground ball and fired to Cameron Bailey at first base, triggering a massive celebration.
The out secured a historic 4-3 win over Archbishop Murphy on April 28, handing Stanwood the league title for the first time since 1998.
“There was a point when we didn’t think we could even be Wesco champs, but once we saw it was a possibility it really focused them,” head coach Matt Brennan said.
The victory was Stanwood’s sixth in a row and ninth of its last 10.
The Spartans controlled their own destiny after a home 2-1 victory over Archbishop Murphy on April 26.
“It was a tight game. We just had timely hits that did it for us,” the coach said.
Mason Goodson went 3-for-3 in the game, and Aidan Link and Braedon Requa got the RBIs in the second inning.
The runs proved enough for the win because of stout defense behind stellar pitching from Gilbertson, who only needed 66 pitches — featuring a rare three-pitch inning — to secure the win. Spartan fielders flashed plenty of leather in the game, including right fielder Ryan Cheeseman making a sprinting catch for an out and collecting a one-hopper to fire to first to rob a base hit.
“The goal for the last two weeks was to go 6-0 to give ourselves a chance to get into districts. We knew we had to win. We just ticked it off one game at a time,” Coach Brennan said. “When we beat Murphy at home, we knew we could reach our goal. All we had to do was go and get it.”
Two days later, the Spartans did just that.
With the score knotted 3-3 in the top of the sixth, Matthew Brennan slapped a double and Tryston Stephenson took advantage with the go-ahead RBI single. Matthew Brennan pitched three scoreless innings of relief to help Stanwood edge Archbishop Murphy 4-3 to secure the Wesco 3A North title. Requa and Bailey each went 2-for-4 from the plate in the game.
“The seniors were freshmen when I started as head coach. We got through a lot together, and we felt like we accomplished this together,” Coach Brennan said. “It was a really special feeling. We all toiled and it paid off.”
Though the Spartans started the first 10 games of the season 4-6 and averaged just 2.7 runs per game, they were never shut out and allowed 3.9 runs, keeping Stanwood competitive in most games.
During the final 10 games during the Spartans’ 9-1 run, they scored 5.4 runs per game and allowed just 1.9 runs per game.
“Now, we’re two wins away from state,” the coach said of the Spartans, who open the district tournament at home Saturday. “That game Saturday is what we’re focusing on. One game at a time.”
Bats are heating up and confidence is growing.
“These ladies are hitting their stride,” head coach Patrick Ryan said. “They’re showing a lot of promise.”