Lakeside falls short of Legion World Series

Playing in an opponent's home town, in front of more than 1,500 fans, presented a significant obstacle for Lakeside Recovery in Monday night's American Legion AAA Northwest Regional Championship.

Playing in an opponent’s home town, in front of more than 1,500 fans, presented a significant obstacle for Lakeside Recovery in Monday night’s American Legion AAA Northwest Regional Championship.

“They had a sold out crowd … it was loud,” Lakeside coach Rob Reese said.

The host team, Medford, Ore., defeated the group of Issaquah, Skyline and Newport baseball players, 14-0, locking up a trip to the American Legion World Series, Aug. 14, in Fargo, N.D.

Lakeside, which was battling form the losers’ bracket, needed two wins over Medford.

A well-rested Mustang squad closed the door early, however, erupting for five runs in the first inning. They tacked on four runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth to erase any hopes of a Lakeside comeback.

Lakeside showed fatigue, as four different pitchers allowed 13 earned runs. Starter Colin Hering allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning, and relievers Cole Wiper and Matt Houser each allowed four.

“Once you’re in the losers’ bracket there’s no tomorrow, you have to throw everything you have at them,” Reese said.

Pitching, which was the strength of Medford the first four games of the tournament, continued to shut down Lakeside’s bats on Monday. Lakeside earned just three hits in six innings. Four of Medford’s five starters are college players. In five games, the Mustang’s pitching staff produced a combined ERA of 0.21 with 57 strikeouts, allowing just 17 hits. Lakeside was also without its top hitter, Spencer Rogers (.487, 48 RBI), the entire tournament.

Lakeside got off to a tough tournament start on Aug. 6, losing its opener, 7-6 to Charter Cove, Calif. They held a 6-1 lead, before surrendering four runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth.

Lakeside pulled a comeback of its own the following day, beating Lewiston, Idaho 12-11. They trailed 6-1 after three innings, before rallying for 11 runs — three in the fourth, four in the sixth and four in the seventh.

“They turned it on and decided they didn’t want to go home,” Reese said.

Lakeside followed Saturday with a dominating 12-2 win over Anchorage, Alaska, and a 4-2 victory on Sunday over Billings, Mont. Lakeside trailed Billings 2-1 before rallying for three runs in the seventh inning. Devin O’Donnell was 3-for-4 with two RBI and Andrew West was 2-for-5 with an RBI.

Lakeside ended its season with a 36-14-1 record and two wins shy of its second ever World Series appearance. They made their first and only trip in 1995. This season marked the sixth time Lakeside had won a state title and advanced through to the Northwest Regional Tournament.

“It was a great finish,” Reese said, noting they were without two of team’s top pitchers, Adrian Sampson and Blake Fulgham, the entire summer. “We knew we had a good strong team, but when you use this many young guys you never really know what is going to happen.”