Wolves conquer KingCo rival on the diamond

Eastlake scores all three of its runs in the bottom of the fourth inning

One gargantuan inning propelled the Eastlake Wolves to a victory against the Newport Knights in a Class 4A KingCo baseball contest.

Eastlake scored all three of its runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, en route to a 3-0 win against Newport on April 25 in Sammamish. Eastlake improved its overall season record to 8-9, while Newport dropped to 7-11.

With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Newport ace AJ Block struck out Eastlake’s Ben Lathwell.

But the inning wasn’t over yet.

The pitch got away from Newport catcher Brandon Steinberg and Lathwell advanced to first base. Eastlake hitters James Geiger and Hank Pladson recorded back-to-back singles in the next two at-bats. Pladson’s single up the middle scored Lathwell from second base, giving Eastlake a 1-0 lead. Eastlake’s next hitter, Zakk Weber, singled to left field, scoring James Geiger from second base to give Eastlake a 2-0 lead. An errant Newport throw from the outfield toward third base allowed Hank Pladson to score, extending the lead to 3-0.

No more runs were scored in the contest.

Eastlake head coach Frank Smith said Lathwell’s advance to first base with two outs despite striking out was a huge play in the game.

“We got lucky on that strike three and we took advantage of that opportunity,” Smith said. “We put together some hits and they (Newport) threw the ball around a little bit. We found a way to execute when we had runners in scoring position.”

Newport head coach Brad Files said Block, who surrendered just five hits on the hill in a complete game stalwart performance for his team, performed admirably despite the loss.

“It was an unlucky outcome for [his effort] today,” Files said. “They (Eastlake) didn’t hit very many balls hard but they found a way to squeak those few runs in there. That is all it took.”

Eastlake pitcher Alec Gomez, who allowed just five hits and no runs in a complete game effort, praised the players behind him for making clutch plays. Eastlake center-fielder Nathan Mano made a diving catch in the top of the sixth. Newport had its best chance to score in the top of the fourth. Block and Bryce Beck recorded singles but Gomez enticed Newport hitter AJ Riley to ground into a double play, quelling the threat.

“I didn’t have my greatest stuff today but the defense carried me,” Gomez said. “That is what is really important. It is a team game.”

Smith was impressed with Gomez’s shutout showing against a KingCo rival.

“Gomez kept us in it and came out and shoved,” Smith said. “He had a couple of situations where the middle guys (shortstop, centerfielder, second baseman) bailed him out. They rolled that double play. Mano made two big-time plays in center field that put away any attempt they (Newport) had of scoring some runs there.”