Luke Heimlich has defined iron man for the Puyallup Vikings baseball team this season.
Heimlich, a junior left-hander and the Vikings’ No. 1 starter, has put together an incredible 9-0 record with seven complete games and a 0.57 earned-run average during the 2014 season so far. Heimlich tossed a perfect game against Graham-Kapowsin in April, but arguably his most impressive performance of the 2014 season came against the Gig Harbor Tides in the first round of the district playoffs. Heimlich threw a mind-boggling 124 pitches and threw all 10 innings in Puyallup’s 3-2 victory May 13 in Kent.
I’ve covered high school baseball for nine years, and Heimlich’s showing against the Tides is hands-down the most incredible thing I have ever seen on a baseball diamond. I have never seen a pitcher at any level of baseball throw 10 consecutive innings.
The Vikings lost a 2-0 lead when Gig Harbor scored two runs in the top of the sixth, but Heimlich wasn’t fazed. Gig Harbor had runners on second and third in the top of the seventh, but Heimlich struck out Tides hitter Chad Glover to quell the threat. Gig Harbor never got close to scoring in the final three innings due to Heimlich’s performance. Following the game, Heimlich told me he felt like he was getting stronger and stronger with his velocity as the game went on, and he didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to help his team win.
The evening marked the second most pitches he has ever thrown in one game. Last summer he threw 125 pitches in a summer league contest.
“When your teammates trust you, and when they are coming up to you and saying, ‘You’re going back out, right?’ Those guys are putting their trust in me to get us out of the inning, and I put my trust in them to get us out of the game.”
That’s exactly how it played out against Gig Harbor. Heimlich kept his team alive in extra innings, and Zach Needham finished the game with a walk-off double to win it in the bottom of the 10th inning. Throughout the 2014 season, Vikings head coach Marc Wiese’s mantra for his players was to make memories they can remember for the rest of their life. Heimlich’s complete game with extra innings will certainly be a gem ingrained in the brains of Vikings players and fans for decades to come.