They may have wanted more, but when it was said and done the Issaquah baseball team was all smiles Saturday after defeating Meadowdale 7-2 for third place in the class 3A state tournament at Safeco Field.
“It was a great finish,” Issaquah head coach Rob Reese said. “We get to go out as winners. There are only two of us who get to do that: the champion and us.”
The Eagles led from start to finish in the third-fourth place game, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Andy Salmeri, who was 2-for-5 with three RBI in two games at Safeco, drove in the first score on a sacrifice fly to right field. Michael Dixon followed with a two-out RBI single.
Issaquah increased its lead in the fourth inning, rallying for three more runs off University of Washington-bound pitcher Matt Gorman. Salmeri ripped an RBI double down the left field line, and Dixon and Grant Gellatly followed with back-to-back squeeze bunts, scoring Miles Perkins and Salmeri.
“Those were our first squeezes we got down all year,” Reese said. “We tried and tried and tried, and we finally got a couple down.”
The Eagles tacked onto their lead in the fifth with an RBI double from Spencer Rogers and a sacrifice fly from Kyle Sutherland.
Tyler Vanderboegh pitched a solid six innings, scattering eight hits with two strikeouts. The senior earned his second victory pitching at Safeco. He earned his first win last year in Issaquah’s 7-3 state championship victory over Auburn.
“It feels great,” Vanderboegh said. “Anytime you get to pitch here is quite a feeling. To go out with two wins here is an unforgettable experience.”
Issaquah wrapped up its season with a 17-9 record, winning six of its last seven games. There was undoubtedly some disappointment after losing the state semifinal game to Kennewick the day before.
“We played here twice, two years in a row and not a lot of teams can say that,” Vanderboegh said. “It’s something just to get here to the final four. I’m just glad we got to play here. We tried our hardest, but the first game didn’t work our way. It’s a good feeling. We’ll look back on this in five or 10 years and it’s going to be a great feeling.”
Kennewick 4, Issaquah 1
Issaquah ran into a 6-foot-7 buzz saw Friday morning in its opening game against Kennewick as pitcher Tony Bryant struck out seven and scattered seven hits en route to a 4-1 victory.
The Eagles surrendered two runs in the first inning after an error and walk led to an RBI single and sacrifice fly. Issaquah looked as if it might battle back in the bottom half of the inning, loading the bases with one out. A sharp line drive from Sutherland, however, was snagged by the second baseman and he doubled off the runner at first base for the final out.
Salmeri provided the Eagles a huge spark in the second, drilling a solo home run over the left field fence into the bull pen. It was just his second home run of the season and one he’s not soon to forget.
“It was perfect timing,” he said. “To see that go over was awesome. It’s something I can always say, you know? I’ll be telling my grandkids about that someday, and they won’t believe me.”
Kennewick, which won the state championship the following day in a 24-12 route of Kelso, tacked two more runs on in the fifth inning on pair of RBI singles.
Issaquah’s Jacob Kemmerer pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs and eight hits. He threw 122 pitches.