Playing for Taryn

To say it has been a tough week for the Knights family would be a vast understatement.

  • Monday, June 2, 2008 3:59pm
  • Sports

Newport’s Blake Gibbs hit a gland slam in the bottom of the fifth inning to help the Knights.

Heavy-hearted Knights continue

winning ways despite school tragedy

To say it has been a tough week for the Knights family would be a vast understatement.

The entire Newport High School community has been left in mourning following the loss of Taryn Gillies, an outgoing cheerleader killed in a car crash on Highway 26 in Adams County on April 18. Gillies was returning from a trip to Washington State University with her friend and fellow Newport senior Callie Turner, Turner’s mother Deborah Turner and Deborah Turner’s boyfriend Matthew Andresen when the Dodge Caravan driven by Andresen veered over the center line and collided with a U-Haul truck.

Gillies and Andresen were killed, while Callie Turner was left in serious condition and Deborah Turner in satisfactory condition at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.

Gillies’ death sent shockwaves through the Bellevue school, as the 18-year-old senior was much loved by students and parents alike.

The Knights baseball team is no exception.

“A lot of these seniors were really, really close to Taryn,” said Newport head coach Brian Fisher. “It’s been an experience the last couple of days.”

The Knights took the field at Bellevue Community College’s Courter Field against Mercer Island on April 23 for the first time since Gillies passed away. With the memory of their friend still on their minds, Newport played a fantastic game, beating the Islanders 10-3.

Newport (11-5, 9-3 KingCo 3A) jumped on the board early, scoring three runs in the first inning when Trace Tam Sing, the Knights sophomore shortstop and leadoff hitter, got things started quickly with a triple. Tam Sing and Collin Bennett both scored later in the inning on a double by Will Pierce. Ned Jones then drove in Pierce with a sacrifice fly later in the inning.

“We just wanted to come out and have fun, and to be focused,” said Tam Sing, who finished a perfect 4 for 4 with a walk. “We tried to stay positive and help each other out today.”

The Newport defense did its part to help out Knights starting pitcher Nate Eisenhauer with some highlight defensive plays, including a spectacular leaping grab from Tam Sing. Eisenhauer improved his record to 4-1 with the win, going six innings and allowing only two unearned runs.

After Mercer Island (9-8, 7-6) scored twice in the fourth off an Andrew Higgins’ two RBI single, Newport responded by scoring three in the bottom of the inning. Jones picked up his second RBI of the game with a single that helped bring the momentum back to the Knights.

“Jonesy was real close to Taryn,” Fischer said. “Maybe she was looking down on him because he had a real good game.”

The decisive blow to Mercer Island came in the bottom of the fifth when Newport senior leftfielder Blake Gibbs hit a monster grand slam off of Islanders left-handed reliever Cam Wilson.

Gibbs, an Oregon State recruit, had come to the plate earlier in the game with the bases loaded and popped up. He left no doubt the second time with the bags full, as the ball easily cleared the 365-foot mark in left center field.

“I was definitely just looking for one pitch and he gave it to me, a curveball right over the plate,” Gibbs said after the game. “I just tried to sit back and relax and wait for that pitch.”

Kevon Zadeh pitched the seventh for Newport, allowing one run on three hits before he forced Alex Faith grounded out to end the game. It was the fourth-straight win for the Knights.

Newport, second in KingCo 3A, was scheduled to play conference-leading Skyline on April 24, but as it was the same day as Gillies’ memorial service, Fischer gave the team the option to have the game rescheduled. There was no doubt what the Knights wanted.

“We decided that we wanted to play,” Gibbs said. “We’ll keep Taryn in our thoughts and play for her.”

The result of that game was unavailable at Reporter deadline, but regardless of the score, Tam Sing said the Knights were making the right decision.

“We made that decision as a team and we want to stick together and stay positive,” he said. “We’re just going to come out and play hard for Taryn.”

Joel Willits can be reached at 425-453-4270 ext. 5060 or at jwillits@reporternewspapers.com.

BOX SCORE

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E

Mercer Island 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 – 3 8 1

Newport 3 0 0 3 4 0 X – 10 12 1

W: N. Eisenhauer (4-1) L: E. Pyne.

HR: NEW-Gibbs RBI: NEW- Gibbs 4, Jones 2, Pierce 2, Dilley 1, Herring 1. MI- Higgins 2, Reel 1

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