Baseball: Thomas Jefferson, Federal Way both playing well heading into SPSL playoffs

It seems like things are starting to click for the Thomas Jefferson Raider baseball team.

And now is the right time for that to happen. The Raiders, as well as Federal Way High School, will play at this weekend's South Puget Sound League Tournament. The Raiders finished in fourth place in the SPSL North Division behind Kentwood, Federal Way and Tahoma.

"My team is coming together at the right time," said TJ head coach Mike Church. "We have had to deal with injuries to both Jeff Brigham and Mitch McQueen most of the season, our two best pitchers. Now both are getting healthy."

The Raiders (13-7 overall, 10-6 SPSL North) will have to win two loser-out games Friday and Saturday to advance to the West Central District Tournament. Jefferson will play the SPSL South's fifth seed, Graham-Kapowsin, at 4 p.m. at Kent Memorial Park. The winner will play again at 1 p.m. Saturday at Kent Memorial in another loser-out game.

The Raiders ended their SPSL North regular season with three-straight wins, including a season-ender over first-place Kentwood, 6-2, Friday afternoon. Jefferson got a solid pitching performance from Travis Quackenbush, who went five innings and struck out four. Quakenbush left with a 3-2 lead. McQueen threw the last two innings, striking out the side in the seventh inning.

Offensively, the Raiders got two RBIs each from Brigham and McQueen. Brigham, who has already signed to play at the University of Washington, hit a monstrous two-run home run in the first inning off Kentwood ace Austin Voth, who will also play at UW in the fall. McQueen finished 2 for 2 with two doubles.

Jefferson also beat Kentlake Thursday, 6-5, in extra innings. After playing to a 2-2 tie, the Falcons tallied three runs in the top of the eighth inning to take a commanding 5-2 lead. But TJ responded with four runs of their own in the bottom of the eighth.

McQueen finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a home run. Brigham and Brett Fitzgerald were both 3 for 5 and Quakenbush and Brian Moe both had two hits each.

• The Federal Way Eagles are the hottest team in the SPSL North. The Eagles (14-5 overall, 12-4 North) extended their winning streak to seven games with three wins last week. Federal Way will take on Rogers (13-3) at 4 p.m. at Kent Memorial Park Saturday in a battle between the two second-place teams from the North and South. The winner will be the league's third seed to districts and the loser will be the fourth.

The Eagles beat Kent-Meridian Thursday, 14-0, downed Kentridge Friday, 6-4, and beat Tahoma Saturday in their regular-season finale, 4-3.

Nick Tanielu homered against Kent-Meridian and the Eagles took advantage of 11 errors by the winless Royals.

Elliot Morris threw a complete game against Kentridge, striking out 11. Austin Webber added a solo home run. Webber was also the offensive hero Saturday against Tahoma. He finished with all four RBIs for the Eagles, knocking in two in the third and two more in the fifth.

TJ Horsfall picked up the victory on the mound, going 6 2/3 innings. Webber got the save by getting the final out in the seventh.

• An up and down season for Beamer (9-10 overall, 6-10 SPSL South) ended Friday with a 7-3 win over Jefferson in a non-league game. Brian Thomason got the win on the mound and also finished with three RBIs. Richard Apigo was 2 for 3 with two RBIs for the Titans.

The Titans tallied five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat Graham-Kapowsin, 9-8, Thursday in their SPSL South finale. Jeff Apigo finished 2 for 4 with four RBIs and a home run. Kenny Johnson ended up 2 for 3 with two runs and Sam Kosbab was 2 for 3 with a run.

Travis Crumb picked up the win on the mound in two innings of work.

• Decatur (4-15 overall, 4-12 SPSL South) ended its season with a 17-1 loss to Puyallup Friday. The top-ranked Vikings scored eight runs in the top of the first, four in the fourth and five in the fifth. Decatur's only run came in the bottom of the second.

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