Cards bounce back after Lakeside loss to win NEA title
Medical Lake is regular season baseball champ, preps for playoffs
Medical Lake’s Cory Wagner lays down a sacrifice bunt in the sixth inning of Friday’s opening game of an NEA baseball doubleheader. Wagner was safe but eventually left stranded on base in the 4-3 loss.
That might be the word that best describes the Medical Lake Cardinals baseball team this season. Because after each of their three losses so far this year, they’ve rebounded well, bouncing back with a win, or a winning streak.
Following a non-league loss in their second game to Connell, Medical Lake reeled off six straight wins. When that streak was snapped by Riverside April 11, the Cardinals won another six games.
Such was the case last Friday when the Cardinals, (13-2 in the Northeast A, 14-3 overall) traveled to Lakeside (9-6, 9-7) in yet another key matchup that could make or break their goal to win an NEA title and get to a 15-win season.
After suffering a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the Eagles where the Cardinals led 3-2, only to see Lakeside score two runs in the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off win, the bats came out in a 15-1 thundering in Suncrest.
Sure, the win in Friday’s nightcap is just one game, but the victory, combined with Freeman’s split with Chewelah secured first place for Medical Lake. The Cardinals visited Chewelah this past Tuesday for a single game and conclude their regular season Friday versus Riverside for a Senior Day doubleheader at 4 p.m.
First place in the NEA gives Medical Lake the host role in district playoffs Saturday, May 11 with teams to be determined.
“We weren’t crushed but we were disappointed we couldn’t close it out,” head coach Kerry Kelly said. Medical Lake was one pitch away from the win on two different batters, “But that’s baseball,” Kelly added.
Medical Lake sent ace Adam Paulson to the mound in the opener. He struck out 12 and scattered seven hits, but the two he gave up in the seventh were the killers.
With two out Chris Noonan hit a sharp 0-2 pitch to left field that got by Connor Cranston, rolling to the fence. Noonan, whose double scored Jordan Kuhnert to tie the game 3-3, ended up on third.
Paulson had a 1-2 count on Jake Girard who ripped a shot just fair down the leftfield line scoring Kuhnert for the winner.
The win snapped a three-game Lakeside losing streak.
Medical Lake was limited to just three hits, using two of them – singles from Taylor Dormaier and Kasey Kelly – in the top of the first to plate a pair of runs. “I kind of had a feeling in the first inning when we couldn’t push more runs across,” Kelly said. “You need to bank some runs.”
The Cards other hit came in the top of the fifth when Roman Kissack led off with a single, stole second and later scored on a pair of Lakeside errors to put Medical Lake ahead 3-2.
“The thing is after both of our losses (in league) we responded,” Kelly said.
The bats came alive in game two where the Cardinals got a pair of runs in the first on singles from Cory Wagner and Paulson, whose base hit scored Kelly for a 2-0 lead.
A six-run third, was keyed by singles from Aaron Sunde and Dormaier, followed by consecutive doubles from Kelly and Paulson. After an out and a walk Cranston collected a two-out double that scored three for an 8-0 lead.
Kelly’s two-run homerun in the fourth down the leftfield line made it 10-0. He’d spank another shot out of the park, this one to left center and a ball that eventually bounced un the berm and into the JV fieldm pushing ML’s lead to 12-1.
Besides Kelly, who went 3 for 4 with six RBIs, Paulson also had three hits. Sunde had a pair of hits in three plate appearances.
Kissack went four innings on the mound giving up two hits and one earned run. Dormaier and Kelly came on in relief and never gave up a hit. “We had a good pitching performance from Roman Kissack and got to see Taylor Dormaier and see Kasey (Kelly) come in and throw an inning,” Kelly said.
“It was nice to close it out a little bit early, check off one of our goals,” Kelly said. “We had a goal – I challenged the boys to a 15-win season – so I’d like to meet that goal.” That can happen before the conclusion of the NEA season.
Kelly’s not looking too far ahead as his game plan “is one inning, one pitch at a time.”
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.