The weather wasn’t the only thing scorching this week.
A combination of blazing hot bats, and arms, lifted the Lakeside Recovery Senior baseball team to four straight wins, and into tonight’s American Legion Senior State Championship against the Yakima Pepsi Pak.
“We have a lot of pitchers and the bats really came alive the last couple of games,” said head coach Rob Reese, Tuesday night, after beating the Twin City Titans — last year’s American Legion World Series runner-up — 12-2.
Lakeside, which plays at 5 p.m., tonight at Tacoma’s Heidelberg Park Park, only needs to beat the Yakima Pepsi Pak once out of a possible two games to clinch a trip to the American Legion Regional Tournament Aug. 6-9 in Medford, Ore. Lakeside has gone five times in its history, with their last trip coming in 2006 where they finished as Regional runner-up in Casper, Wyo.
Reese credited his team’s success with its ability to adapt, noting they lost several key players to injury, including pitchers Adrian Sampson and Blake Fulgham.
“They’ve kind of grown together,” he said. “The pitching staff has developed … guys had to step up and fill the roles and you just didn’t know how they would do, and they’ve done a great job.”
Pitching was crucial in Tuesday’s win. Starter Jared Lemke pitched five solid innings, scattering seven hits with five strikeouts, and allowing two earned runs. Matt Houser came in with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth inning and shut the door, forcing a double play and a flyout.
The Lakeside bats also came through in a big way. Four players in the starting lineup had multiple hits, led by a 4-for-4 performance from No. 9 hitter Andrew West. Leadoff hitter Ryan Somers was 3-for-4 with two RBI, Trace Tam Sing was 2-for-4 with five RBI, and Mario Sanelli was 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Lakeside, which consists of players from Issaquah, Skyline and Newport high schools, moved to 32-12-1 with the win. They defeated Centrailia 8-5 on Saturday to open the tournament, then beat Yakima Pepsi Pak 4-3 in 13 innings on Sunday. They defeated a team many considered the tournament favorite, the Kennewick Bandits, 16-0 on Monday night.