The Mount Si baseball team’s early-season potential showed last Wednesday, April 9, as the Wildcat defense held the Sammamish Totems to a single run, on the road in Bellevue. Meanwhile, Mount Si’s hitters broke to a lead, then gradually added to the tally, led by junior Brock Johnson.
Tanner Simpson pitched the first six innings for Mount Si, giving up few hits.
Mount Si rushed to four runs at the top of the first. Senior Zach Usselman hit a double good for an RBI, then Drew Cotto brought home a runner. Brock Johnson brought in two runners on a single.
Sammamish’s defense was tight. The score didn’t change until the fourth inning, when a bunt by Carson Breshears loaded the bases. Simpson’s sacrifice fly added a run, making it 5-0.
Another sacrifice fly by Schimchick moved a runner at the top of the fifth. Then a second hit by Johnson brought home a runner.
Sammamish got a run at the bottom of the fifth, and the Totems held off Mount Si in the sixth.
Breshears singled in the seventh to bring home a runner, and Adams held off the Totems hitters in the eighth to end it, 8-1.
Junior Alex Adams closed the game on the mound for Mount Si, after Simpson pitched upwards of 80 throws in the first six innings.
“We knew we could beat them,” said Simpson, who was on his second start of the year.
“I was just throwing them strikes,” he said, “making them put the ball in play, making them beat me.”
He felt good following the win, after firing 83 pitches. Simpson’s specialty is his curveball. The mound is fun, but defense is his real love: Simpson plays second base. He says he’ll go wherever his team needs him.
“I’m feeling the game, feeling the focus,” said Brock Johnson, a junior left-fielder who added four RBIs and scored once. “I was focused in the zone. He was giving me good fastballs down the middle.”
Averaging .500, Johnson is showing well for Mount Si, making base nine times this season.
Defensively, Johnson had a good play, snagging a line drive to shut down a Totems runner.
The eye-popping defensive play of the game came from senior Evan Johnson, who made a backwards dive 10 feet from the fence on a long fly.
“I was playing a little in,” said Johnson, “saw that it was going to be over my head, so I put my head down. At the last second, I saw I had to dive for it. I had to go cross-body.” His aerial catch elicited big cheers from the Mount Si dugout.
Coach Zach Habben stressed consistency against Kingco foes like Sammamish.
“We come out and play the same game we do every day,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we play against ourselves.”
“We pushed one across, one across,” Habben said. “The guys played well, they battled, did what they needed to. It was taking advantage of walks, situations, a hit once in a while.”
Zach Usselman is Mount Si’s lead pitcher. He has been the starting catcher for two years, but stepped up to double as pitcher in his senior season, starting on the mound against Newport at Safeco Field, and throwing against Kamiakin.
“He worked really hard in the winter, and is throwing really well for us,” said coach Habben. “He’s always had a good arm behind the plate. He’s adapted well and and is throwing very well.”
Simpson likes working with Usselman, the vet catcher: “He doesn’t miss much.”
Usselman pitched a full game Friday, April 11, against Lake Washington, giving four runs on seven hits with nine strike-outs. Mount Si won in the last moments, 5-4, after a key home run hit by Evan Johnson.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with the Wildcats down 4-3, Johnson mashed it over left field to bring himself and Carson Breshears home. It was Johnson’s second home run of the season.
Breshears and both Johnsons have been hitting well.
Positions on the 2014 Wildcats are fluid, altering depending on who’s on the mound.
“Everything is up in the air,” Habben said. “It’s always a competition, who’s performing in practices, who’s performing in games.”
On first base, Miles Schimchuck and Jason Brown swap. At second, Simpson swaps with Paul Theda when he takes the mound. Colin Brown handles third, and Brock Johnson and Zach McConnell play left.
Closer Alex Adams is a junior, up from junior varsity last season. “He’s a control guy—good curve ball, gets a lot of ground balls and a lot of outs,” said Habben.
Mount Si visits Mercer Island at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, then heads to Liberty, 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 18.
Mount Si is currently 2-1 in league, 7-3 overall. Mount Si lost to Interlake on Monday, April 7, 4-3. The Wildcat boys beat Juanita, 3-1, on Friday, April 4.
Follow Mount Si at mtsihsbaseball.com.default.html.
Evan Johnson hammers a homer over left field to win Mount Si’s Friday home game against Lake Washington. Photo by Calder Productions
Zach Usselman pitches against Lake Washington. Photo by Calder Productions
Miles Schimchick covers a Totems batter on first base at Wednesday’s game. Seth Truscott Photo.
Drew Cotto on the bat against Sammamish.
Senior Carson Breshears at bat.
Jason Brown eyes a way home from third.
Closer Alex Adams fires a pitch in the seventh inning of the Sammamish game.
Zach Usselman returns a strike;
Evan Johnson swings against the totems.