Growls third baseman Sam Bryant tags out a Sultan runner on March 10 at Marymoor Park. Andy Nystrom/staff photo

Growls third baseman Sam Bryant tags out a Sultan runner on March 10 at Marymoor Park. Andy Nystrom/staff photo

‘A matter of inches’ for Growls

Players from the Overlake and Bear Creek schools pumped up the music prior to their first baseball games of the season on March 10 at Marymoor Park near Redmond.

Some guys danced and raised their fists in the air before heading onto the field.

At the end of the day, the Growls — the combined Grizzlies and Owls squad — had two victories under their belts, a 13-12 win over Sultan and a 6-4 triumph over Seattle Christian.

Freshman Gabe Villaflor amassed five hits, seven RBIs and a homer on the day. Also making some noise with their bats were sophomore Jay Sivadas with two hits and three RBIs against Sultan and junior Zach Foster with three hits against Seattle Christian.

The Growls (4-4 overall at press time) return seven players from last year’s squad, which advanced to the final eight in the 1A state tournament before losing to King’s Way Christian, 7-6.

Senior leaders are Tellier Lundquist, a shortstop, pitcher and leadoff hitter; Bryce DeLay, a pitcher who threw a perfect game last year; and Ryan Eldridge, a catcher. Coach Mike Davidson also noted that junior pitcher Jon Campbell and newcomer Villaflor, a shortstop/third baseman, should make an impact this season. In Villaflor’s case, he’s already lighting up the scoreboard.

Davidson is excited about his Growls squad, which will compete against just University Prep in the minute Emerald City League and then “barnstorm” the rest of the state for competitors to fill out their schedule.

“What these guys understand is always how close it is at the end. This team hasn’t lost a game by more than one run in two years,” he said. “When you’re competitive like that, when you get to the place that we got in the playoffs, you’re either gonna win a state title or it’s gonna end in tears.”

Davidson and his players discuss the little plays that can change a season and how to prepare to rise up to the challenge with their bats, gloves and minds.

“You don’t know who’s gonna be called upon to make them,” Davidson said of the crucial plays. “Some day in May, you don’t know what it is, but you do know that it’s gonna be a matter of inches and we need to start working on that in March.”

Head coach: Mike Davidson

Last year: 6-0 league, 21-4 overall, first in 1A Emerald City League, state participant

Key returners: Tellier Lundquist, senior, SS/P; Bryce DeLay, senior, P; Ryan Eldridge, senior, C

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