Issaquah Eagles senior pitcher Justin Buckner was dialed in against the Mount Si Wildcats baseball team in a win or go home predicament on the baseball diamond.
Buckner, who pitched 6 2/3 innings, surrendered just one earned run while scattering nine hits, propelling the Eagles to a 8-4 win against the Wildcats in a loser-out, KingCo 4A playoff game on May 4 at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue.
Buckner wasn’t perfect on the hill (nine hits given up) but he came through in the clutch. Mount Si had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the first inning. Buckner struck out Mount Si hitter Michael Collins for the final out of the inning. Buckner and the Eagles faced an even more dire situation in the top of the fourth. With the Eagles ahead 2-0, Mount Si had the bases loaded with nobody out. Buckner was able to get Mount Si’s next two batters (Cole Bostwick and Clayton Waltz) to fly out to right field. Buckner then struck out Mount Si lead-off hitter Trace Halvorson to quell the threat.
Issaquah head coach Rob Reese believed Buckner’s heroics in the top of the fourth was the key to the game.
“After we took the 2-0 lead, they loaded up the bases and Justin got out of that jam. It was an awesome performance in a loser-out game. That is what you need from a senior. He has been awesome all year and we hadn’t gotten him very much run support. Tonight we got him eight runs,” Reese said.
Issaquah outfield Conner Chan had a game-high four RBI against Mount Si with the season on the line. The Eagles scored two runs in the bottom of the third, three runs in the bottom of the fifth and added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
“Connor has been one of our best hitters all year. He came up clutch,” Reese said.
Chan was thrilled to see his team extend its season.
“It is huge we get to move on. Mount Si, we wanted to beat them badly,” Chan said.
Mount Si head coach Zach Habben wished the outcome would had turned out differently.
“We just didn’t capitalize when we had opportunities. We left a lot of guys on base,” Habben said.
Despite trailing by seven runs in the top of the seventh, Mount Si’s effort never wavered. The Wildcats had three hits and scored three runs in the final inning of their 2018 season.
“There was no give up in us. We didn’t stop fighting which was great to see. It is what you like to see out of your team as a coach,” Habben said. “We battled.”
Issaquah will face the Skyline Spartans in a KingCo 4A playoff game at 1 p.m. on May 5 at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue.