Sophomore pitcher leads Jackson to district title | Baseball
Last updated 5/18/2018 at Noon
Jackson’s Case Matter pitched the game of life when it mattered the most.
The sophomore right-hander totally shut down Wesco 4A champion Cascade for 6 2/3 innings, allowing no hits and striking out 13 to lead the Timberwolves to a 3-0 victory in the 4A District baseball tournament championship game Thursday, May 10, at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Matter was forced to exit the game due to reaching the 105-pitch count and freshman Evan Canfield came in to record the third out for the combined no-hitter.
“That was by far the best game I’ve ever pitched,” Matter said. “I consistently got ahead in the count. Even if I was down, I used my defense well and the three runs that we had really kept me going.”
Jackson (15-6) is scheduled to take on South Kitsap in a state regional tournament game at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 19, at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“This has been a dream come true,” Matter said of the state berth. “This has been a goal of our team for a long time.”
Jackson coach Kirk Nicholson said that Matter threw the ball hard.
“What I saw was a guy throwing 86 to 87 and that’s pretty good,” he said. “The ball had some pop on it tonight and he’s got a fresh arm.”
Nicholson noted that a rule change that takes places next year would have allowed Matter to finish pitching to the third batter in the inning.
“I was so mad,” Matter said of having to be pulled. “My coach told me that next year they’re changing the rules so you can finish the batter. So that made me even more mad.”
Just about every pitch that Matter threw worked against the Bruins, who beat the Wolfpack twice during the regular season, including a game in which Matter allowed four runs.
“My curveball was moving good. My fastball had good velo,” Matter said. “And my changeup was moving pretty good too.”
As he continued to strike batter after batter, Matter’s confidence soared.
“The adrenaline was pumping through my veins,” he said. “It was a big game and I knew I had to do a big thing for my team.
“I just laid it all out there.”
Matter hurt his arm at the start of the season and spent most of his time in the outfield.
“He got time to rest and get his arm right,” Nicholson said. “The last couple of outings he’s been on. Not like this. This was exceptional.”
Nicholson also credited junior catcher Ben Steck, who called all of the pitches.
“My catcher is one of the best catchers I’ve ever watched,” Nicholson said. “My catcher takes care of the whole thing. He knows the players. He knows the game. He takes care of it. Case doesn’t have to think. He just has to throw to my guy and my guy knows what to do.”
The Wolfpack’s defense also backed up Matter.
“Sometimes when a guy is striking out guys you get a little lazy in the infield,” Nicholson said. “All of our guys were on their toes the entire time.”
Jackson took a 1-0 in the top of the first after leadoff hitter Carter Booth drew a walk. He stole both second and third base and scored on a double by Diego Altamirano. In the fifth inning, Chase Mathews drew a leadoff walk, stole second, advanced to third on an error and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Serres.
The Timberwolves added another run in the seventh when Matter drew a leadoff walk and eventually scored on an outfield error.
“You see one man have an incredible game. The things we did as a team were pretty impressive also,” Nicholson said. “I thought we did a lot of really good things out there. I love what my pitcher did. But I’m not going to say it’s just him. It was a lot of him.”
The Wolfpack opened district play with a 5-4 victory over Mount Vernon in eight innings Monday, May 7, at Jackson High School.
Serres and Addison Beckman each drove in a run and Jackson took advantage of seven Bulldog errors to score three unearned runs.
Senior Alec Schuldt pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs, two of which were unearned. Matter came in to pitch the final 1 1/3 innings and picked up his first win of the postseason.
This is the Timberwolves’ first appearance at state since 2012.
“What it means to us is one more game,” Nicholson said. “As we talked with the guys, it’s time to get greedy. Now we’ve got to state. Now let’s not just think about getting to state.”
GLACIER PEAK, ARCHBISHOP MURPHY ELIMINATED: Glacier Peak ended its season with an 8-6 loss to Lake Stevens in a loser-out 4A District tournament game Saturday, May 5, at Glacier Peak High School. Trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth, the Grizzlies scored a run to tie the score but eventually gave up two runs to the Vikings in the ninth. Glacier Peak finished the season 10-11.
Archbishop Murphy dropped both of its 2A District tournament games, losing 7-5 to Sehome on Saturday, May 5, at Daniels Field in Anacortes and then falling 9-3 to Liberty on Tuesday, May 8 in a loser-out contest. The Wildcats ended the season 17-5 overall.