Cardinals earn sweep of Cougars
Medical Lake wins early-season Northeast A League showdown
The early-season baseball showdown between Medical Lake and Chewelah certainly lived up to expectations, and maybe then some.
The Cardinals got a walk-off homerun from Kasey Kelly in the bottom of the seventh inning in the opener – one of just three hits on the day for his team – to claim a 4-3 victory and then got the bats going in game two to score the sweep with a 9-2 win.
The Cardinals’ Adam Paulson pitched a complete game, struck out 15 and never issued a walk and scattered nine hits in improving to 3-0 on the season. Caleb Weibe also went the distance, striking out seven in losing for the first time in four appearances.
Chewelah (5-3, 6-3) contributed to its demise committing nine errors on a blustery, cold day, punctuated by periodic rain showers.
“That was probably one of the better, if not the best match-ups in our league,” Medical Lake coach Kerry Kelly said. “Both of them lived up to their reputations.”
Medical Lake ran its win streak to six with the twin wins, are a perfect 6-0 in Northeast A League play and 7-1 overall with games this past Tuesday at Riverside (1-4 NEA, 1-5 overall) and Wednesday at home against Lakeside (5-2 NEA). They hit the road Saturday at Kettle Falls for a doubleheader starting at noon.
Kelly stroked a two-strike pitch about 355 feet to centerfield to win it against the Cougars’ ace, Weibe. Kelly got behind in the count looking at the first pitch for a strike, fouled off a second, “And just got into one,” Kerry Kelly explained.
“I gotta’ tell you, what a feeling, to be on the winning side of a game like that,” Kelly said.
“I’m going on the record,” Kerry Kelly said. “I only personally asked him (Kasey) for a double and Adam (Paulson) or Roman (Kissack) are going to bring them in; they had a better idea.”
Medical Lake was frustrated early, scratching out opportunities in the first three innings and getting runners to third twice and giving Paulson an opportunity to aid his own cause. But both times Paulson came up there were two outs and the runners were left stranded.
“We were putting runners on, we left eight or nine on base,” Kelly said. “The longer into the game you go you wonder is this going to be one of those games,” Kelly said.
But Medical Lake broke through with a big fourth inning getting Roman Kissack and Dylan Rushfeldt on base with errors. Brayden Hale advanced them into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and later, a ground out and error allowed two runs to score.
Aaron Sunde was hit by a pitch and later advanced to third on another Cougar error and scored on an error by the third baseman.
Chewelah scored single runs in their half of the sixth and seventh to tie it at 3-3 setting up Kelly’s heroic finish.
“Game one was the kind of game you’ll remember for a long time,” Kelly said.
The second game was a bit less anticlimactic with ML scoring twice in the first when Cory Wagner singled, Taylor Dormaier doubled and a Kelly single staked the Cards to the lead.
After Chewelah cut it to 2-1 in the top of the third, Medical Lake got a Wagner single, a Dormaier double, an intentional walk to Kelly that made it 3-1. Paulson’s double and Kissack’s single scored three more.
The rest was left up to Kissack who pitched seven solid innings, striking out four and improving to 3-1. Kissack had some help, however, from an ever-improving defense.
“Kasey made two diving backhand plays to throw out Alex Smith and you know, he’s an athlete,” Kelly said. That was followed by Rushfeldt and Calero, both of whom made stellar defensive plays. “It’s just contagious you know,” their coach said.
“As good as game one was, I think the of execution in game two was equal to, if not better than game one,” Kelly said.
It’s been the slow evolvement of his team that’s making Kelly take notice. “I’ve seen this coming in practice, we’ve turned from a baseball clinic to a baseball team,” Kelly said. “We’re building a culture.”
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.