Dan Konen never thought getting trampled on would feel so good.
But that’s what happens when the entire Bothell High baseball team mobs you after you record the final out of a classic, come-from-behind, topsy-turvy 4A Kingco championship game.
The Bothell baseball team scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to come from behind and upset Redmond, ranked No. 2 in the state, 7-5, on Thursday. It was the first Kingco championship since 2004 for the Cougars.
“I got stepped on a couple of times, but it felt awesome,” Konen said.
The win means that Bothell will play the first two rounds of state at Kent Memorial Stadium on Saturday, instead of having to travel to Spokane. Bothell plays unranked South Kitsap at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and a win would have them play either No. 7 Battle Ground or No. 5 Kentlake at 4 p.m. later that day.
Had Bothell lost, it would have been in the same region as No. 1 Richland, the defending state champion that knocked out Bothell last year, and No. 3 University Prep on the east side of the mountains.
“Nobody really wanted to take the bus ride to Spokane,” Konen said.
In the game before Bothell’s championship victory, Inglemoor’s season came to an end in an 11-2 loss to Lake Washington that was much closer than the score indicated. Kurt Wagner’s solo home run in the fifth inning tied the game at two, but Lake Washington scored four in the bottom half of the fifth and five more in the sixth inning for the victory. Still, with Inglemoor’s (11-9 Kingco, 13-11 overall) 10-8 come-from-behind victory against Juanita in the opening round, the Vikings made it farther than any senior class ever had before.
“We came a long ways,” first-year head coach Bryan McNaghten said. “There’s a new attitude going on. That’s what this whole season is about.
“I’m really proud of the kids,” he continued.
But the day belonged to the Cougars, who are trying to reach Safeco Field for the state semifinals for the second straight year. That was aided greatly by beating Redmond and grabbing the district’s top seed, thanks in large part to Bothell taking advantage of several Redmond mistakes in the final inning.
“I expected Redmond, who has been so tough, to just take it right to us,” Bothell head coach Paul Moody said. “But you never know. Two teams here that just battled real hard, so it would have to be an exciting game for fans to watch, I would think.”
The only silence given by the fans in the otherwise remarkable game was when pinch hitter Alex Reynolds was hit above the left eyebrow with a fastball in the top of the seventh inning. Reynolds laid on the ground for eight minutes and was down for more than 10 before being helped off the field. A cart eventually came and took him to the hospital, but Moody said afterward he expected Reynolds to be fine.
“In a funny way, it was a big part of the game,” Moody said.
Reynolds getting hit, on an 0-2 pitch with one out and nobody on base in a 5-4 game, seemed to spark the Cougars and slow the Mustangs. Bothell would get the next three runners on base, and would score three runs thanks to two wild pitches and a passed ball on a third strike.
Bothell had a slew of stars, including Konen. The senior pitcher and third basemen, who was a regular on Bothell’s remarkable run to Safeco Field last year, was the starting pitcher, but re-entered on the mound in the seventh inning with one out and two runners on base with the tying run at the plate. But Konen got a weak ground ball to first and then struck out the game’s final hitter. The Cougars’ No. 3 hitter in the lineup also got on base in the crucial seventh inning.
Konen was the star of last year’s Kingco tournament victory against Redmond too, both on the mound and at the plate.
“I wanted to beat them all year because they were the team to beat,” Konen said. “Luckily, I got (to start) this game because I really wanted to pitch against them. And then after that, I was just hoping I wouldn’t screw up, and it worked out for the best.”
The key hit in the seventh inning was an RBI single to center by Cougar second basemen Kurt Stottlemyer, which tied the game at five. After stealing second, Stottlemyer got to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball.
Stottlemyer said it was difficult focusing after watching a teammate lay on the ground injured.
“After Alex got hit in the face, I started to freeze up so I started running around,” he said. “It was difficult. My legs was shaking. But it was incredible (to win).”
A win that Bothell fans will remember for a long time.
“Sometimes you have to gamble,” Moody said. “You have to start runners, and sometimes you have to bunt, try to steal, and we did all those things. And they just happened to work out. And, obviously, some key clutch hits at the end there, too.”