Taylor Jones went the distance on the mound, and also contributed at the plate, as the Kentwood Conquerors won 4-1 over the Puyallup Vikings to win the 4A state baseball title at Gesa Stadium in Pasco on Saturday night.
Jones battled through a groin injury on the mound, and overcome early struggles with his control to lead Kentwood to victory. His RBI single in the 1st inning got the Conks on the board first.
A couple of Puyallup errors in the 3rd allowed Kentwood to tack on another run. Then, Jones' second straight RBI single made it 3-0. They chased Vikings starter Ryan Harris after just 2 1/3 innings. Gabe Ihrig and Brendan Illies pitched well in relief, but Puyallup could not overcome the deficit.
An RBI groundout by Reese McGuire made it 4-0 in the 4th. The Vikings mounted their best offensive threat in the bottom of the 4th. They scored their only run of the game on a deep drive to LF just out of the reach of the Kentwood LF. Then, with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, Jones struck out consecutive batters to end the threat.
The final three innings featured solid pitching by both sides, and Puyallup wasn't able to mount a late rally, as Jones got stronger as the game wore on. He shut down Puyallup convincingly in the 7th to secure the title.
This was Kentwood's 2nd 4A state baseball title in the past 3 years under head coach Mark Zender.