By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
MUKILTEO — In the fifth inning of Friday’s game against Jackson, and with the tying run at third base, Kamiak sophomore right fielder Jake Long was just looking for a well-placed RBI hit.
He ended up placing a towering drive well beyond the left-center field fence.
Long’s two-run home run capped a six-run inning for the Knights, who added another run in the sixth and then snuffed out a Jackson rally in the top of the seventh for an exciting 7-6 victory on a wet, blustery afternoon.
It was the first varsity homer for Long, who played on the Knights JV baseball team a year ago.
“I was just looking for a pitch to drive to score the run,” Long said. He got a fastball “right down the middle,” and as it came off the bat “I was expecting it to be in the gap. But then it just took off.”
The six-run outburst erased Jackson’s 5-0 lead, and came against Timberwolves starting pitcher Tyler Wingert, who had checked Kamiak on five hits and no runs over the first four innings.
Geoff Lee led off Kamiak’s rally with a one-out double into the left field corner. He moved to third on an infield single by Alex Pettibone and scored Kamiak’s first run on a single to left by Jacob Bettencourt.
Jackson then got the second out of the inning, and was one out away from taking a 5-1 lead to the sixth. But Andy Crosby bounced a sharp single to left field for another run, and two more scored on a single by Andrew Piccini and an outfield error that allowed Piccini to reach third with Long coming to the plate.
The Knights added an insurance run in the sixth by combining three walks and a hit batter, and they appeared to get another run, though it was disallowed when a base runner was called out for leaving early on Long’s apparent sacrifice fly.
Down by two runs in the top of the seventh, the T-wolves nearly sent the game to extra innings. Two runners tried to score on Alec Kisena’s one-out drive to the center field wall, but the second runner was tagged out by catcher Wilson Kessel after a relay throw from Lee, Kamiak’s shortstop.
“(Kessel) got him right in the foot (with the tag), so that was a good call,” said Kamiak coach Steve Merkley.
“All we have to do is slide at home plate and we’re tied,” said Jackson coach Kirk Nicholson.
The Knights then got a fly ball to center field for the game-ending out.
Merkley was pleased with how his team rallied from a five-run deficit, and by the production from the bottom half of his batting order. The last five hitters in Kamiak’s lineup were a combined 9-for-15 with three walks and five RBI.
“At the start of the season we weren’t getting any RBIs,” he said. “We’d get guys on, but then couldn’t get them in. But today we got them in.”
It was Kamiak’s second win against Jackson in three games this week. The T-wolves took a 7-0 decision in Tuesday’s series opener, and Kamiak answered with an 11-1 victory on Wednesday.
“We look a lot more solid than we did a week ago,” Merkley said. “We have good pitching, our defense has been real good, and now we’re starting to hit.”
Though disappointed with the outcome, “it’s better that it happens now than in the playoffs,” Nicholson said. “This is about learning for us right now, and we have a long way to go. It was a good game for them, it was a good game for us, but if you do some things wrong you pay for them.”
Nicholson liked that his team came within a whisker of extending the game with its seventh-inning rally. “It was a good baseball game,” he said. “But unfortunately somebody has to lose, and today that was us.”
At Kamiak H.S.
Jackson 400 010 1—6 9 1
Kamiak 000 061 x—7 12 1
Tyler Wingert, Jeremy Spring (5) and Alex Kiel; Andy Crosby, Kevaughn Escobar-Umayam (3), Brandon Gustafson (7) and Wilson Kessel. WP—Escobar-Umayam. LP—Wingert. S—Gustafson. 2B—Spring (J), Alek Baumgartner (J), Alec Kisena (J), Kiel (J), Wheadon (J), Geoffery Lee (K). HR—Jake Long (K). Records—Jackson is 1-2 in league, 3-3 overall. Kamiak is 2-1, 4-2.