Hunt for KingCo: Mount Si baseball heads into Mercer battle after small-ball Liberty win | Photo Gallery

Brock Johnson winds up in an early-game at-bat for Mount Si. He brought home a run in Mount Si
Brock Johnson winds up in an early-game at-bat for Mount Si. He brought home a run in Mount Si's 3-0 win over Liberty.
— image credit: Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

The Liberty runner was getting a bit too much of a lead-off for comfort.

So, "We decided to go for it," said Mount Si shortstop Carson Breshears, who was on the receiving end of a pick play. He tagged the runner in the dirt and shut down Liberty's final play of the afternoon.

Defense like that, and fundamental 'small ball' play got Mount Si that much closer to a fourth and final KingCo title. The Wildcat baseball team beat Liberty, 3-0, on Saturday, May 10. Few big hits, but strong basics, set them up for a battle against Mercer Island tonight (Monday, May 12).

Saturday's game was scoreless for the first three innings, but the Mount Si's hitters opened it up. At the bottom of the fourth, a sacrifice fly by senior Chris Solomon brought home Evan Johnson

Next, in the top of the sixth, junior Brock Johnson came home on a pitching error to first. Mount Si's Zach McConnell rushed home on a fielder's choice.

Tanner Simpson threw, and gave up just six hits on a quick 58 pitches.

"A lot of it had to do with Tanner's pitching," Breshears said. "He kept the ball low, threw to contact, just got ground balls. Very efficient. He did it when we needed him most… That's what we're supposed to do as a defense."

"We had hit and runs, bunts. We executed," said Wildcat coach Zach Habben. "We got it done as much as we needed to."

Defense won it, on the strength of Simpson's pitching.

"It was just one-two-three," Habben said.

"We took advantage of stuff they didn't do well," said Simpson. "Our defense played great behind me. Usse (Catcher Zach Usselman) caught a great game today."

"Just keep it in front," is catcher Zach Usselman's philosophy.

When it comes to homebound runners, Usselman is the manstopper. Tagging becomes a competition.

"That's kind of a game for me," he said. "I like to beat 'em."

Usselman is also part of Mount Si's pitching lineup. Tonight, he will be throwing to his junior varsity catcher and understudy, Reid Lutz.

"He's really stepped up. I've been trying to bond with him," the senior said. "I have a lot of fun with him, on and off the field."

Mount Si beat Mercer in their first outing, then the Islanders won. Both games scores were lopsided.

"We boat-raced them the first time, they boat-raced us the second," said Habben. "It's definitely a game we've got to come out ready to play.

"I want to see them come out and hit the ball well," he added. "We need to put up some big numbers."

"I expect our pitcher to throw strikes and our defense to play well," said Simpson, who'll be on second. "I believe our hitting is going to pick up. We're going to start banging the ball around the yard."

"We're just taking it one game at a time. Just focus on the now," said Breshears.

The Mercer game is 7 p.m. tonight at Bannerwood Park, off Richards Road in Bellevue.

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A fast-moving Carson Breshears holds down shortstop.

Wyatt Baker tries a bunt in fourth-inning action against Liberty.

Zach McConnell rushes for third.

Tanner Simpson fires a pitch; He held Liberty to six hits in fast 58-pitch game.

Chris Solomon keeps an eye on the action at third base.

Colin Brown starts to lead off from first base.

Brown dives for first base, and safety.

David Brown awaits a play at first base.

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