Garfield stuns Redmond, 5-3
When the first Washington State High School 4A baseball poll came out on Monday and the Redmond Mustangs were ranked No. 1 in the state, head coach Dan Pudwill’s first thought was one of worry.
“My initial reaction was ‘Oh no,’ to be honest,” Pudwill said after the rankings came out. “It’s a great thing to be recognized in that manner and it’s good for the players to be rewarded like that. But it also puts the target on us. It allows teams to find the extra motivation to beat us on the field.”
Turns out he had good reason to be concerned.
The Mustangs were stunned 5-3 on Wednesday by pedestrian Garfield in a 4A Kingco game at Hartman Park. It was the first blemish for the previously unbeaten Mustangs, who had won their first seven games. It was the Bulldogs’ second win of the season in nine games.
But Pudwill said he didn’t think the team let up, nor had a superiority complex due to the No. 1 ranking.
“We played (good) defense,” Pudwill said. “We hit the ball hard. We just hit it right at them. We just walked too many guys.”
Redmond never led in the contest, falling behind 3-0 in the third and then 5-2 in the top of the seventh. Redmond rallied to score one in the bottom of the seventh, but that was it.
Redmond has lost to Garfield four straight seasons, including three consecutive at home. Last year, Redmond won 28-3 in Seattle, but lost 6-1 at home.
“I don’t know,” Pudwill said of the Mustangs’ troubles against Garfield. “They are a good enough ball club to beat us once a year, and maybe twice a year, so we’ll have to figure that out.”
Pudwill said he wasn’t worried about the psyche of the team after the loss, because going undefeated in a tough 4A Kingco league isn’t very realistic to begin with.
“In Kingco 4A, you just don’t go undefeated” Pudwill said. “The league is deep across the board. … We are not going to let that game redefine our season. We played seven really strong games before that.”
While Redmond’s last-inning heroics against Garfield fell short, it was a seventh-inning comeback that ignited the seven-game winning streak to start the season. Bryce Bell hit a walk-off home run against Bothell in the 4A Kingco opener on March 11. Redmond then won close games against Inglemoor, Lake Washington and Ballard, and dominated Woodinville — the preseason 4A Kingco favorite —
“If I were to say I expected us to be 7-0, that would be untrue,” Pudwill said before the Garfield loss. “I did not expect us to be 7-0.”
Pudwill said the fact Redmond was ranked first is a reward for 4A Kingco, which did not have another team in the top 10.
“Our league, and I can’t really speak definitively, but is certainly one of the most competitive leagues in the state,” the fourth-year Mustang coach said. “When they compile rankings, I’m sure they think about the competition level.”
That competition level was shown when Garfield beat the Mustangs on Wednesday. But Pudwill had said before the Garfield game that the rankings in April don’t mean much.
“Being the best team in the state only matters at the end of the season,” Pudwill said. “Not seven games in.”
The complete rankings for every classification can be viewed at www.washingtonbaseballpoll.com.