Cardinals off to state after Bi-District sweep
Medical Lake’s District 6/7 baseball champions won the title at home following wins of 6-0 over Brewster and 8-7 against defending state champion Cashmere. The Cardinals meet Cle Elum-Roslyn Saturday at 1 p.m. at Eastmont High. Pictured from left to right: Assistant coach Rob Beamer, Tyler Munden, assistant coach Ryan “Reity” Reitmeier, Joe Sica, Aaron Sunde, Jordan Calero, Dylan Rushfeldt, Adam Paulson, Kasey Kelly, Tristen Keith, Taylor Dormaier, Roman Kissack, Brayden Hale, Cory Wagner, Jalen Musser, Jacob Steinmetz, Hudson Petek, head coach Kerry Kelly. Not pictured: Connor Cranston and assistant coach Josh Smith.
Medical Lake has passed its biggest test of the season so far on the baseball diamond. Now the exams continue, and probably get tougher.
Following a 6-0 win Saturday morning over Brewster, plus surviving to claim an 8-7 victory over defending state champion Cashmere in the afternoon, the Cardinals have made the round of 16 for the first time since 2003.
“I think we’re going to have a little bit of a target on us now that we’ve knocked off one of the giants,” Medical Lake head coach Kerry Kelly said. “But it’s a great spot to be in.”
The Cardinals will meet Cle Elum-Roslyn in a 1 p.m. game Saturday at Eastmont High’s Don White Field. The Warriors are 17-7 overall after going 7-5 in the South Central Athletic Conference and finishing second to 11-1 Naches. The winner of that game will face either Connell or Cascade of Leavenworth at 4 p.m. with a berth to the state tournament in Yakima on the line.
Living to play again on Memorial Day weekend will require Medical Lake to enter new territory in a season where they sit 19-3. The Cardinals have three different six-game winning streaks, the current one reached this past weekend at home hosting the Bi-Districts in a pair of games that were largely edge-of-the-seat nail-biters.
“That’s playoff baseball; all the games are going to be nail-biters or meaningful games,” Kelly said. “That’s what makes them so great to win, they’re tough games.”
Against Brewster the game remained in doubt through five innings as Medical Lake clung to a lead crafted through miscues that plagued the visiting Bears all day. Three errors allowed Taylor Dormaier to get on base and then score.
That’s all Adam Paulson had to go on until Tristen Keith reached on an error, was replaced by pinch runner Jaylen Musser who scored to make it 2-0 on yet another error when centerfielder Danny Ramierz dropped a high pop up by Dormaier.
“This has kinda’ been the story all year,” Kelly said. “Most of our runs were all unearned.” Brewster failed to make plays to close out innings and the Cardinals capitalized on them, Kelly said. “That’s been something we’ve done all year.”
Medical Lake finally got the real breathing room they needed in the bottom of the sixth when Roman Kissack led off with a single, Dylan Rushfeldt got a one-out walk. Keith earned another walk, this one with two outs and then a single by Cory Wagner and double to left field drove in the insurance.
Paulson went the distance surrendering just three hits while striking out seven and giving up just one walk to go to 8-1. Kissack was 2 for 3 and a run scored, but it was the single hits from freshman Wagner and senior Dormaier that did the most damage as both had a pair of RBIs.
That set up the title match with Cashmere which won it’s second game in a row against neighbor Cascade 1-0.
It didn’t start off well for the Cardinals who found themselves trailing 3-0 after one, the big blow a triple by Mason Elliot. But Kasey Kelly’s sixth homerun of the year – a shot into the left field bleachers – evened the game and Medical Lake continued to assault the Bulldogs’ starter Elliot.
Paulson followed with a double, Jordan Calero singled, Rushfeldt doubled and a single from Braden Hale made it 5-3. Three second inning singles from Kelly, Kissack and Aaron Sunde, sandwiched around a pair of walks, pushed the Cards’ lead to 8-3 and then it was “Kinda’ hold on,” Kelly said. “The bats went to sleep for a little bit.”
Kelly was 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Dormaier had the only other multiple hit game versus Cashmere. Calero and Hale each drove in a pair of runs with their hits.
Cashmere, winners of five straight Caribou Trail League championships, chipped away with a pair of runs in the sixth chasing starting pitcher Kissack and another in the seventh.
Kelly went with Kissack on a hunch. “Roman has good off-speed stuff. We felt it would give us a better opportunity to get through their lineup chasing curve balls rather than sitting on fastballs.”
That allowed Wagner to stay in center and move Kelly to short and keep Paulson at first. “All those decisions we made paid off because Adam Paulson made some great defensive plays; Kasey made a couple of nice plays with two outs,” Kelly said.
Wagner pitched parts of both the sixth and seventh, giving up a run but Kelly sent Dormaier to the mound in the seventh with an out in relief of Wagner. Dormaier came in against Cashmere and threw a pair of strikeouts to end the game. “He just closes games,” Kelly said. “Closing games just seems to be his knack.”
“I’d have to say that was one of the biggest confidence builders of the year,” Kelly said. “We’re had some tough games all year but I don’t think we’ve been challenged like we were this weekend.”
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.