Puyallup advances to 4A state championship game behind Pike’s dominant, one-hit outing

Marc Wiese looked up at the scoreboard at GESA Stadium in Pasco during Puyallup High School’s Class 4A state baseball tournament semifinal game against Bothell on Friday morning.

It read: 02.

Make that 102, as in a 102 mile-per-hour fastball from Puyallup star junior pitcher Mason Pike. The scoreboard isn’t equipped to display three digits from the radar gun reading. Sure, the stadium’s radar gun may have been a bit hot, but there’s no question Pike was throwing heat.

“He’s absolutely special on the mound,” said Wiese, Puyallup’s longtime coach. “He showed that today. He just continued to get better. I’m so proud of him. He put us on his back.”

Pike, pumped up on adrenaline, put together what may have been his most dominant outing in his outstanding spring season, mixing a mid-to-high 90s fastball with a devastating slider. His line: 7 innings, one hit, one walk, no runs, 12 strikeouts.

Puyallup got a run on a sacrifice fly from Noah Benedict in the fourth inning and Pike took care of the rest, shoving in a 1-0 win and sending the Vikings to Saturday’s 4A state championship game. What was working for the nationally-ranked prospect, who already has Major League Baseball scouts on notice?

“My slider,” he said. “Then just pumping gas was working really well, so just stuck with it.”

Puyallup catcher Kai Halstead, an Oregon State commit, is used to seeing Pike leave opposing hitters perplexed.

“Definitely his best outing of the whole year,” Halstead said. “Was in there to shove, wanted to win for us. Glad he came through, our offense wasn’t hot today. That happens, it’s baseball.”

Pike carried a perfect game into the sixth inning, setting down the game’s first 17 batters down in order. But Bothell second baseman Drew Marino ruined the party, barreling a fastball and sending a high-hop single past Vikings’ shortstop Gage Thompson for Bothell’s first and only hit of the game.

Pike thought about calling off Halstead’s fastball call on the pitch, which came through his helmet via an assistant coach.

“I wanted to go slider there but I didn’t shake him off,” Pike said, smiling. “It is what it is. We got the win.”

Pike got ahead early in the counts with his fastball, changed eye level with ease and induced whiffs left and right from Bothell’s lineup with his slider. And he worked fast. At one point, a Bothell hitter tried stepping out of the batter’s box for a few seconds, perhaps trying to disrupt Pike’s breakneck pace. It didn’t work.

“I love it,” Halstead said. “I love when pitchers are dialed in and they’re ready to go, ready to shove it down the other team’s throat. I don’t like it when a pitcher is up there kinda nonchalant. … He was Mason Pike, the same guy every day. He comes out here and gets the job done.”

Puyallup will play the winner of the Richland and North Creek semifinal game at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the state championship game at GESA Stadium.