By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — At its best, baseball can be, at the very least, unpredictable. Friday night’s game between Mountlake Terrace and Cascade was just another example.
The teams combined for 21 runs and 18 hits, and looking at the final score, a 12-9 Cascade victory, it would be hard to tell that 15 of the 18 hits came from the Bruins.
But that’s exactly what happened.
Aided by some erratic pitching by Cascade in the late innings, the Hawks staged a comeback that ultimately fell three runs short.
The Bruins started fast, powering to eight runs in the first two innings. Second baseman Patrick Chung started the scoring in the top of the first inning with an RBI double. The biggest hit, however, belonged to catcher Ryan Lukas, who belted a three-run home run to left field to make it 4-0.
“He got a first-pitch fastball, kind of belt-high fastball and he timed it perfect,” Cascade head coach Scott Stencil said. “He put a great swing on it and the next thing you know the ball carried out. I wasn’t sure when he hit it. I knew he hit it well and then all of the sudden it just kept going. That was a big hit for us because that went from 1-0 to 4-0.”
Terrace closed the gap with a run in the bottom of the first, but the Bruins opened it up wider with four more runs in the top of the second. Center fielder K.J. Brady hit an RBI single, Chung and Michael Mazza each added RBI doubles and the lead jumped to 8-1 after two innings.
The third inning was scoreless, but after that brief respite, the Bruins added four more runs in the top of the fourth, led by Brady’s RBI triple and Lukas’ RBI single.
In danger of losing the game in five innings via the 10-run rule, the Hawks’ offense came up with seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Amazingly, the seven runs came on just one hit.
“It’s a crazy game, things happen,” Stencil said. “To get the extra at-bats is great for our hitters. And it’s a good learning experience for our pitchers to come in with a big lead and try to finish the game off.”
Still, Stencil admitted it would have been nice to end the game when his team had the chance.
Terrace’s fifth-inning surge was powered by Cascade’s wildness. Five walks and two hit batters created four runs. A three-base throwing error allowed three more runs to score, turning what looked like a blowout into an exciting finish.
Stencil had limited options to stem the Hawks’ outburst. A depleted pitching staff kept him from going to the bullpen.
“I didn’t have a guy,” Stencil said. “I had no pitcher. The only pitcher I had was my starter from Monday and I didn’t really want to use him. I didn’t have anyone else warmed up. They were all on the field. So I had to trust that my guy would get out of it and we would make a play somewhere — and we did. And if we didn’t then we just would have had to battle back and score some runs.”
The Hawks added another run in the bottom of the sixth to cut the deficit to three runs, but the Bruins got out of a bases-loaded jam when relief pitcher Danny Townsend struck out Chase Perez to end the inning.
Cascade escaped with the victory in the following inning when Elliot Nebel grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
While frustrating to give up such a big lead, Stencil was happy to see his team respond to the challenge.
“We made just enough plays to hold on,” he said. “I think that is a good sign of our team, coming from where we were last year when we were a little bit young and we were fortunate enough to win some games early on in the year. And now that we are kind of all back, most of our team is back this year. They’ve been in these situations and I expect them to just do what they do which is just keep playing the game.”
Although the Hawks came up short, staying in the game and staging the comeback was a welcome sign for Mountlake Terrace coach Andrew Watters.
“My kids are a tough group,” he said. “They didn’t give up on the game. They easily could have. Baseball is a funny game. It’s just one of those things that happens. I was happy. It was good for us to show that we can come back and compete.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Mountlake Terrace H.S.
Matthew Butler, Will Fern (5), Danny Townsend (6) and Ryan Lukas. Jason Shevenko, Daniel Theis (3), Drew Serres (5) and Wyatt Alleman. WP—Butler (1-0). LP—Shevenko (0-1). 2B—Patrick Chuck (C) 2, Michael Mazza (C) Ferguson (C), DeMiero (MT). 3B—K.J. Brady (C). HR—Lukas (C). Records—Cascade 2-1 overall, Mountlake Terrace 1-1.