By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
DUVALL — Two teams, identical situations, two dramatically different outcomes.
Bases loaded with nobody out was not the Archbishop Murphy baseball team’s friend Saturday afternoon.
Archbishop Murphy couldn’t take advantage of its bases-loaded, nobody-out situation, while Lake Washington took full advantage of its chance as the Kangaroos knocked off the Wildcats 10-0 in the 2A state quarterfinals at Cedarcrest High School.
With Lake Washington leading 1-0 in the top of the fifth inning, Archbishop Murphy put the first three batters on base without making an out, but was unable to push across a single run. Then in the bottom of the sixth, with the score still 1-0, the Kangaroos also loaded the bases with nobody out, and Lake Washington erupted for nine runs to invoke the mercy rule.
“(Those situations) definitely changed the momentum,” Archbishop Murphy coach Stan Taloff said. “It kept things going for them, and if we had been able to score a run or two then maybe the momentum swings our way and it’s not quite the same.”
Connor Johnson pitched a one-hitter and Kevin Nakahara had a pair of two-run singles during the sixth-inning rally for Lake Washington (16-9). The District 1/2 champion advanced to face Tumwater in the semifinals Friday at Yakima County Stadium.
Archbishop Murphy, the No. 3 seed from District 1/2, reached the quarterfinal game by beating Fife 3-2 in the first round Saturday morning. The Wildcats, attempting to reach the final four for the third straight year, finished their season 17-9.
“It was a surprising season because we came off back-to-back years being in the final four with a couple real solid senior groups, then lost most of them and had just a couple juniors coming back,” Taloff said. “The sophomores who became juniors stepped up and did a fabulous job. For us to be playing for a regional championship was not something I thought was going to happen when we started the season.”
Archbishop Murphy and Lake Washington played an epic game during the district tournament, which the Kangaroos eventually won 3-2 in a 14-inning thriller. Saturday’s game was shaping up as another classic, with just one unearned run scored between the two teams before Lake Washington ran wild in the sixth.
But despite the sixth-inning fireworks, it may be the top of the fifth the Wildcats end up ruing most.
Johnson, a picture of efficiency on the mound for Lake Washington, had a perfect game through four innings, aided by the Wildcats hitting hard balls right at Kangaroo fielders. But the sophomore right-hander found himself in major trouble in the fifth. Archbishop Murphy received its first two baserunners of the game courtesy of Lake Washington defensive miscues, then a walk loaded the bases with nobody out.
But Johnson somehow wriggled out of the jam without sustaining any damage. After inducing a pop-up for the first out, he engaged his pitching counterpart Connor Sand in the game’s crucial at bat. Sand fell behind in the count 1-2 before slicing a liner down the first-base line that landed just foul. A foot to the left and the bases may have cleared. Instead the at bat continued, and though Sand fought off multiple two-strike pitches, Johnson finished off the strikeout, then got another pop-up to end the inning and maintain Lake Washington’s one-run advantage
“I was just trusting my abilities,” Johnson responded when asked the key to escaping the jam unscathed. “I have my teammates’ back, they have my back. We work on these type of things every day and it paid off.”
Then with the tables turned in the bottom of the sixth, the Kangaroos showed how it was meant to be done. An error, a walk and a bunt single loaded the bases with nobody out. Nakahara then lined a two-run single through a drawn-in infield to begin the deluge. Lake Washington put together a pair of suicide-squeeze bunts in which no out was recorded, two run-scoring base hits and an RBI groundout to make it 8-0. Then with two out, Nakahara again came to the plate with the bases loaded and lined a single to right to bring home the two runs that ended both the game and Archbishop Murphy’s season.
“We knew they were a good team, we were going to have to scratch and claw,” Taloff said. “We gave them a few extra outs, and that always hurts you when you’re playing a good team like that.”
Extra outs helped the Wildcats get into the quarterfinal game. Archbishop Murphy scored one run on a passed ball and two on an error during the first two innings of its morning first-round game against Fife. That proved enough run support for pitcher Ryan Dorney, who pitched a four-hitter and struck out seven to pick up the win.
Archbishop Murphy 3, Fife 2
At Cedarcrest H.S.
Archbishop Murphy 120 000 0 — 3 4 0
Fife 011 000 0 — 2 4 1
Ryan Dorney and Ernie Gamboa. Fife battery not available. WP—Dorney. LP—Not reported.
Lake Washington 10, Archbishop Murphy 0
At Cedarcrest H.S.
A. Murphy 000 000 x — 0 1 3
Lake Wash. 100 009 x — 10 9 2
Connor Sand, Evan Haugen and Aiden Waite. Connor Johnson and Benson Hull. WP—Johnson. LP—Sand. 2B—Jared Menssen (LW). Records—Lake Washington 16-9. Archbishop Murphy 17-9.