No no-no, but a near-perfect victory

POULSBO — For a pitcher who had just come within kissing distance of perfection, Miles Thomson was unusually modest Monday afternoon.

POULSBO — For a pitcher who had just come within kissing distance of perfection, Miles Thomson was unusually modest Monday afternoon.

Thomson had just pitched the North Kitsap 15-year-old Babe Ruth state team to a 9-3 win over South Kitsap. He had kept a perfect game alive through five innings, a no-hitter kicking until the next-to-last batter of the game, and had ended the afternoon, along with his teammates, as a state champion for the second year in a row.

But when asked to describe the final play of the game, when he had stabbed at a hit ball and thrown out the South Kitsap runner from his knees, Thomson smiled sheepishly.

“I tried to look cool, and kind of got caught in my shoelace,” he said. “Got the out, though.”

He got plenty of ‘em.

Thomson and his teammates are the state champions after burning through the Northern Washington State tournament with a 5-0 record. The same group of athletes went to the Babe Ruth World Series last year as 14-year-olds, and now they’ll have a chance to return — if they can make it through the regional tournament, which begins Aug. 1 in Rock Springs, Wyo.

North Kitsap’s opponent on Monday, South Kitsap, had clawed their way out of the loser’s bracket to face North Kitsap, who had beat them 4-0 Sunday morning.

But the momentum swung North Kitsap’s way early Monday afternoon. On the second pitch of the game from SK starter Jake Yount, leadoff hitter Travis Tobin hit a ball into the trees behind the left-field fence for a 1-0 lead.

That lead was widened thanks to an RBI single by Marcus Curtis and another RBI first-bagger by Kevin Gartin.

Thomson took the hill with a 3-0 lead, and he didn’t give South Kitsap an inch of breathing space, inducing three flyouts in the first inning and three groundouts in the second.

“Thomson is a difficult pitcher to hit,” South Kitsap manager Steve Bates said later. “He mixes his pitches, and keeps you guessing, and that makes it difficult.”

North added a run each in the third and fifth inning, the first when Josh Beahan drove an RBI double to the outfield, the second when Curtis notched an RBI double of his own.

In the fifth, Thomson lost the perfect game, walking center fielder Tyler Penn.

Two innings later, after North Kitsap had brought home three runs in the seventh, South Kitsap’s Alex Jones drove a ball up the middle. Usually, a single between the shortstop and second baseman is an exciting as a glass of warm milk. On Monday, it drew applause, honoring Thomson’s almost no-hitter and North’s effort to support it.

South mustered three runs in that inning as Tyler Penn hit an RBI single and two runs scored on an error in the outfield, but Thomson’s toss from his knees ended the game.

Manager Ollie Kenyon said of his starter, “He pitched a hell of a game.” Kenyon also gave credit to the defense and the bats, especially that of Tobin’s. The leadoff hitter’s home run, Kenyon said, gave North the spark it needed.

“It didn’t disappoint me (to lose the no-hitter),” Thomson said. “I’d rather have one, but I did get the win.”

Besides — now Thomson’s teammates will talk to him again.

As prescribed by baseball tradition, they shied away from the starter in the dugout, hoping not to jinx the no-no.

Thomson smiled after the game when he said, “I would hear them say something, and then I’d hear them knock on wood.”

NOTES: North Kitsap’s 4-0 win over South Kitsap, which was played Sunday afternoon, was highlighted by complete-game shutout by Kevin Gartin, who gave up only three hits. At the plate, Jeff Camus had an RBI double and Marcus Curtis had a solo home run in that game.