By Andy Nystrom
Derek Lohr was ready. No doubt about it.
The Bothell High senior didn’t need many pitches to prepare for his relief appearance in the bottom of the sixth inning of Tuesday night’s 4A KingCo baseball championship game against Issaquah High at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue.
It would take a batter before things fell into place, though. Runners on first and second with one out and a slim 1-0 lead turned into a bases-loaded situation after Lohr — who took the mound after playing shortstop — walked his first batter.
After striking out the next batter, Lohr energetically pumped his fist. A sharp grounder to first for the third out brought cheers galore from the Bothell players and fans.
An inning later, the Bothell side erupted with a dog pile when the Cougars notched a double play to secure the 2-0 win and grab its first league title since 2011 and earn a state berth. Bothell (16-7) was seeded fourth in the tournament and knocked off the No. 1 seed (Mount Si) and No. 2 seed (Issaquah).
“We were right in it. Their guy pitched a great game, our guy pitched a great game,” said Issaquah coach Rob Reese, whose squad is 16-6. “Unfortunately, they got one sac fly and we didn’t, and then that last run they scored… We had a couple shots, we left nine guys on base, but their pitcher did a good job.”
Reese added that in practice on Wednesday, the guys will try and get their swings back on track.
“You just want your guys to execute and be successful,” he said.
Issaquah will play Mount Si for a state spot at 7 p.m. Thursday at Bannerwood.
For Issaquah, Corey Chaplin, Drew Feldman (double), Mack Mahovlich, Shane Thomas and Justin Buckner had hits. Pitcher Jared Jongejan went the distance with a strong performance.
After being hit by a pitch with two outs in the seventh, Bothell’s Trent Carlin eventually scored from third on a pitch that bounced off the catcher’s glove and away from the plate. Dylan Gerard sent Carlin to third by spraying a single up the right field line.
Bothell took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on a Brody Ponti sacrifice fly to score Austin Baek, who doubled to start the frame.