EVERETT — The Cascade baseball team still has one more chance to punch its ticket to state, but there’s no longer any margin for error.
The Bruins fell 6-2 to Eastlake in a Class 4A Wes-King Bi-District Tournament winner-to-state consolation game Friday night at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium.
The loss set up a winner-to-state elimination contest between Cascade and Issaquah at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue.
“We gave them some extra outs, they capitalized on our mistakes and they could swing it,” Bruins coach David Benson said. “Hats off to (Eastlake). They’re a pretty good team. We’ve just gotta find a way to come back tomorrow and get the job done.”
Nathan Fitzgibbons pitched a complete game for Eastlake, limiting Wesco 4A champion Cascade (16-7) to two runs and five hits. The senior right-hander struck out five and walked none.
“Their guy filled up the zone, threw really well, kept us off-balance (and) was able to work multiple pitches in the strike zone,” Benson said. “And when you’ve got a little bit of (velocity) and some plus out pitches, it’s hard when you’re constantly hitting down in the count.”
KingCo No. 3 seed Eastlake jumped in front while capitalizing on a pair of first-inning Cascade errors. After an error helped the Wolves (17-7) load the bases in the top of the first, Justin Lewis hit a two-out single that Cascade’s left fielder misplayed. The ball skidded past him and all three runners scored for a 3-0 Eastlake lead.
“We kind of put ourselves in a tough hole early,” Benson said. “And that’s a really good team over there, so any (time) you give a really good team extra outs, … it kind of puts you in a tough situation.”
Cascade’s only score came on a two-run homer by Jayden Talt, who crushed a third-inning pitch over the high right-field fence to trim the deficit to 3-2.
Eastlake added one run apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to build a four-run cushion en route to securing just the program’s second state berth since 2003.
It was the fourth consecutive loss in a winner-to-state game for Cascade, dating back to last season. The Bruins, who are coming off back-to-back Wesco 4A titles, fell 4-3 to Inglemoor in Tuesday’s winner-to-state bi-district semifinal.
Cascade looks to rebound Saturday and claim its fourth state berth in seven years.
“It’s a do-or-die-type game,” Benson said, “so our guys (have) to come with intensity and everybody’s gotta be ready to go.”