PASCO — For the past two weeks, the Lake Washington Kangaroos used their bats to pound teams into submission in the first three rounds of the Class 3A state baseball tournament.
On Saturday at Gesa Stadium, the Kangs used some clutch defensive play by shortstop Travis Lee to win the state title with a 3-2 victory over O’Dea.
It was Lake Washington’s second state title in the past four years (the Kangaroos also won in 2016). It also completed a seven-game winning streak of loser-out games Lake Washington (26-2) had to win since it lost to Mercer Island in the first round of the district tournament May 4.
Since that loss, Kangs coach Derek Bingham watched his team blast through the state tournament, with an average score of 9-2 in wins over Kamiakin, Mount Spokane and Gig Harbor (in Friday’s semifinal game).
But it was tight contest all the way with O’Dea.
“Here’s the deal,” Bingham said, “I think this was the right state championship game. Both teams deserved to be here. The game lived up to its hype.”
O’Dea coach Mike Doyle agreed, and he said his team had the Kangaroos on the ropes.
“I told our guys we’ve just got to be able to finish games,” Doyle said. “We put the pressure on them offensively at the end. And our pitching has been great all season. It’s kept us in a lot of games.”
Pitcher Jake Snyder helped get the Irish into the finals when he fired a no-hitter in a 3-0 win over Capital in Friday’s semifinal.
On Saturday, the Irish started Brendan Cabrera, who looked good until Doyle pulled him in the third in favor of tall right-hander Max Debiec. The reliever tossed 4 2/3 innings, surrendering just one run the rest of the way, giving up four hits and striking out four as he tamed the Kangs’ potent bats.
The Kangaroos jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third, doing it with just one hit.
Nation Wood beat out a high chopper up the middle for an infield hit, moved to second when teammate Torin Montgomery walked, and scored when O’Dea shortstop Ben Patacsil tried to throw Wood out at third on Kangs’ Jesus Vizcarra’s grounder in the hole.
Patacsil’s throw hit Wood and rolled away. One passed ball later, Montgomery also scored.
The Kangaroos added a third run in the top of the sixth when I-ly Hsue popped a fly ball to right, scoring courtesy runner Koby Westre on the sacrifice fly.
But the Irish (21-3) didn’t give up.
They finally started to get to Kangs starter Jose Vizcarra, as Max Samson singled up the middle and Debiec reached first after being hit by a pitch.
That set the stage for O’Dea’s Ben Schulte to hit a spinning, high chopper into the hole that Lake Washington shortstop Lee couldn’t control. The ball went off his glove for a hit, and it popped up in the air long enough that Samson and Debiec scored to cut the Kangaroo lead to 3-2.
Jose Vizcarra got out of the inning after that, but he was done for the game, tossing 104 pitches.
Bingham brought in Andrew Urrutia to close out the game, but the senior needed some defensive help.
After getting the leadoff hitter out in the bottom of the seventh, Urrutia gave up a single to the Irish’s Henry Muench. Kelly Corl followed by walking.
That’s when Lee made a huge heads-up play at shortstop. Samson hit a hard grounder to second baseman Hsue, who flipped the ball to Lee at second for the force out.
But Lee realized he couldn’t complete the double-play relay to first base in time. So he turned to look at third base and saw Muench had rounded the bag too far.
Lee turned and fired, and Muench was tagged out to end the game.
“My only shot was if he got too far off,” said Lee. “He was three feet off.”
Bingham praised Jose Vizcarra for his pitching performance.
“He’s a first-team all-leaguer,” Bingham said. “I felt confident with him out there. He’s a warrior.”
Vizcarra downplayed his outing.
“I could care less about my performance,” he said. “I was all about catching the W (win). I just threw what my (twin) brother (catcher Jesus Alvarez) called. I never shake him off. My dad called me last night and told me to pitch the first inning like it was the last.”
- In the Class 3A third-place game, Gig Harbor pounded Capital of Olympia 11-4.
- In Class 4A, Moses Lake beat Olympia 5-3 for the Chiefs’ first state title since 1981.
- Issaquah beat Skyview of Vancouver 2-0 to win the Class 4A third-place trophy.