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Beamer, TJ ready for some playoff baseball
By CASEY OLSON
The fun really starts today for the Beamer and Jefferson baseball teams.
The Titans and Raiders kick off the postseason this afternoon at Kent Memorial Field at the eight-team South Puget Sound League Tournament.
This will be the second year in a row that both Beamer and TJ have played at the SPSL Tournament and both are guaranteed a berth into next weeks West Central/Southwest District playoffs.
Definitely having been there the last two years will help, said Raider head coach Mike Church. And being in a game where we move forward no matter what, helps a lot.
Beamer finished up in second place in the SPSL South and will take on the second-seed from the North Division, Tahoma, today at 4 p.m. The winner will earn the leagues No. 3 seed into the double-elimination West Central/Southwest District Tournament and the loser will receive the SPSLs fourth seed.
The Raiders will take on the Kentwood Conquerors at 1 p.m. The winner of the TJ-Kentwood game will earn the leagues No. 5 seed into districts and play the third-place team from the Greater St. Helens League. The loser will earn the sixth seed and play the fifth-place team from the Narrows League.
The Raiders are hoping to turnaround a two-game losing streak against the Conquerors, which dropped them from first place in the South into the divisions third seed. Jefferson lost close games to a pair of non-playoff teams Curtis and Federal Way in their final two games of the regular season.
We have to get back to the basics, Church said. I think we will come to play with a positive, fresh attitude. I dont think my guys were cruising.
The Raiders feature a senior-laden roster, led by catcher Jason Summers and third baseman Jarett Jackson, and a stable of solid pitching arms.
Kentwood (11-7) qualified for the SPSL Tournament after winning a four-team playoff for the Norths third and fourth seeds on Wednesday.
Kentwood is a strong hitting team, Church said. They are pretty tough hitters one through nine. They hit to the off-field very well.
The Conquerors are led by shortstop Cody Bartlett. The senior will join Jackson in the fall on the Washington State University baseball team.
But Church thinks the Raiders offense will be able to score runs against Kentwoods pitching.
Tahoma enters the SPSL Tournament as one of the hottest and most complete teams in the area. The Bears tied for the regular-season title in the North with Auburn and had the Trojans on the ropes Wednesday in a tiebreaker game. The sixth-ranked Bears (18-3) led Auburn, 4-2, entering the seventh inning. But the seventh-ranked Trojans tallied three runs in the inning on an infield single, two walks, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly to pull out the 5-4 win.
Before the Auburn loss, Tahoma was on a 16-game winning streak. The Bears feature maybe the best offense in the state. During their winning streak, Tahoma scored over 10 runs in 11 games and more than 20 runs in four.
The Bears feature an offensive lineup that has hit a total of 33 home runs during the regular season, led by the eight of senior Kyle Laukala and six by junior J.J. Thompson.
In comparison, Beamer has connected on just 10 home runs on the year, including four from junior second baseman Cole Bixenman. The Titans count on pitching, defense and timely hitting to score runs.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com