Of all the high school teams in all the different sports this year, perhaps no team went through more than the Lake Washington baseball team.
Winning streaks and losing streaks. Amazing performances and suspensions. The triumph of loser-out victories. And, in the end, the agony of a back-and-forth, extra-inning baseball game where one team had to lose.
After beating Woodinville and Inglemoor in last week’s 4A Kingco tournament — with a Redmond loss sandwiched in between — Lake Washington fell to Battle Ground of the Greater St. Helens League, 10-9, in eight innings in a winner-to-state, loser-out playoff contest last Saturday at Propstra Stadium in Vancouver.
Lake Washington battled back to score four runs in the sixth and seventh innings, including three in the top of the seventh, to tie the game up at eight and send the game into extra innings.
The Kangs scored one in the top of the eighth on a Chris Hashimoto sacrifice fly to take a 9-8 lead. But the lead would not hold, as Battle Ground scored two in the bottom half of the inning to head to the state tournament.
In his final game of his high school career, senior David Rosser went 3-for-4 with four runs-batted-in and three doubles against Battle Ground. Fellow senior Curtis Howell got the start on the mound and went 1-for-1 at the plate with an RBI. Senior Ryan Neumann also had a RBI, to go along with a double.
Lake Washington got to the winner-to-state game by beating Inglemoor 11-2 last Thursday, in a game that was much closer than the score indicated. The game was tied at two going into the bottom of the fifth when the Kangs poured it on, scoring four in the fifth thanks to a two-run home run by Hashimoto, and then four more runs in the sixth. Junior Eric Folkers hit a two-run home run in the second inning to provide the early scoring.
“I’ve been in a slump lately, so it just felt good to hit a ball good,” Folkers said. “We just did what we had to do. (We) executed (and) just poured it on.”
Hashimoto, the senior first basemen, ended the game 3-for-3 and senior Sean Falco turned in a gem of a performance on the mound, going five innings to pick up the win.
“I’ve had my good days and my bad,” said Falco, who has been used mostly in relief. “I’ve only had two starts, so it felt pretty good.”
Just getting to a winner-to-state game seemed like a long shot a month ago when the Kangs were mired in a three-game losing streak, in part due to suspensions to two key starters. After a players-only meeting, Lake Washington went on a five-game winning streak to close out the season 13-7 and finished in three-way tie for second place in the Kingco standings. The Kangs lost a coin flip and then lost an extra-inning game to Juanita to get the fourth seed in the Kingco tournament.
Even with the final loss, the Kangs ended the season 15-10 and winners of seven of their last 10.
“It’s been really good,” Hashimoto said after the Inglemoor win. “Especially because a lot of people were getting in trouble at the beginning of the year and a lot things weren’t going our way. But going on this little streak has felt really good.”