Medical Lake has powerful finish
Playoff snub likely fuels bats in big wins over Idaho's Prairie Cardinals
Medical Lake third baseman Dylan Rushfeldt applies the tag to a Prairie Cardinal runner for an out in the opening game of an American Legion baseball doubleheader last Wednesday as both the umpire and Prairie coach watch. Medical Lake swept the visitors from Post Falls/Rathdrum winning 13-8 and 10-9 to conclude their season.
The bats came alive big time as Medical Lake's AA American Legion baseball team finished on a high note by roughing up the visiting Prairie Cardinals from Post Falls/Rathdrum, Idaho 13-8 and 10-9 last Wednesday night at Holliday Field.
The twin wins gave Medical Lake two wins in their final three games and six victories in the teams' last eight contests. ML finished 9-5 in Federal League play and 11-5 overall in reported games.
"They were a good team, I'll tell you what, that was some great baseball," Medical Lake head coach Kerry Kelly said.
After trailing 4-1 through three innings and 6-5 after five, Medical Lake put eight runs across the plate in the bottom of the sixth.
"We kept coming back, having big hits, big outs," Kelly said. "Everybody contributed, there were a lot of people doing great things."
Tommie Wilkie, who plays for Davenport in spring baseball, had three hits, a single, double and triple in the opener. Reardan's Jack Walker and Brayden Hale each had a pair of hits in the opener. Hale went the distance on the mound, surviving while giving up 14 hits.
Wilkie came within inches of a home run in the opener with his shot to center field caroming back into play off the yellow safety barrier atop the outfield fence.
"Boy he squared up on that," Kelly said. "That was a speed triple." His coach added it was Wilkie's effort on the base paths that got him to third.
In the second game Prairie again had a fast start, leading 4-0 after just two innings. But Medical Lake rallied again. They trimmed the lead to 4-3 in the third and 7-6 after five innings and 9-6 heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Hale cleared the bases with a triple and then later scored the game winner. It was one of three three-baggers for Medical Lake.
Walker had four hits in game two, including a pair of triples, both to "Death Valley," the deepest part in left-center field with the fence 385 feet from the plate. Hale hit safely three times, a single, double and triple. Cory Wagner, Tristen Keith and Brent Rosman each had two hits.
Earlier in the week Medical Lake lost the second of a two-game series with Federal League regular champion, Freeman, 11-1 getting just one hit from Rosman.
Despite their strong finish, Medical Lake did not qualify for the postseason and that may have helped fuel the offensive finish.
"Going in we didn't focus much on not making the playoffs," Kelly said. "I don't know if it motivated them for these games but honestly they played some of the best ball I've seen."
That finish got its fuel following the Fourth of July Woodbat Tournament, Kelly said.
Since the tournament, Medical Lake has had a spark in them, Kelly said. "The cream rises at the end of the year, or drops; in this case it rose."
For Kelly, it was a great way to finish the season, on a high note. "It put an exclamation point on things," he said.
"All the nice things you can say about a ball club, we had that on our team," Kelly said. "Good work ethic, good team camaraderie."
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.