Pitching depth guides Lakeside Recovery to another close win
July 22, 2013
By Neil Pierson
Its 2013 record is a gaudy one, but don’t be fooled: The Lakeside Recovery Senior American Legion baseball team has had to win several close contests this season.
Lakeside Recovery stretched its record to 6-2 in one-run games, defeating Chaffey 2-1 in a non-league outing at Issaquah High School on July 17. But the team’s biggest win of the campaign might have a come a day earlier, when it rallied for a 7-4 triumph in nine innings at Bellingham to capture the Northwest League title.
The July 16 win at Bellingham was important because it kept Lakeside Recovery (31-11 overall, 10-2 league) at home for the first round of the Legion playoffs.
“If we lost, we had to go to Spokane,” Lakeside head coach Rob Reese said. “So it saved us about 10 hours (in travel time).”
Lakeside is looking to repeat its 2012 performance, when it finished third at the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C. The players indicate there aren’t many weaknesses on this year’s roster, and their record in close games bodes well for another long postseason run.
“Consistency would probably be the biggest thing,” said Nik Sutherland, who pitched the last three innings and got the save against Chaffey. “We all just know our roles and we keep on coming back, trying to get better, and I think as the year has gone on, we’ve reached a really high level of play.”
Lakeside only had five hits against three Chaffey pitchers, but three of them were timely ones that pushed runs across in the third inning.
Nate Gibson led off the third with an infield single, then raced all the way home on Bradley Hoss’ double to the left-field gap.
“I got behind 0-2, and I just tried to find the barrel of the bat and find some way to get the guy in,” said Hoss, who is entering his senior season at Skyline High School.
“Hoss is one of our four outfielders who play out there, and he’s been hot, real hot the past couple weeks,” Reese added.
Lakeside made it 2-0 when catcher Ryan Darrow drilled a sharp single to left field to score Hoss.
The two runs were enough for a Lakeside pitching staff that showed off its depth. Reese was looking to rest his arms for the start of the postseason, so four hurlers shared the workload against Chaffey.
Jake Rosen started and pitched two scoreless innings. Gibson and Jason Santiago each pitched an inning, and Sutherland, a senior-to-be at Issaquah High, got the last nine outs.
Sutherland didn’t accomplish the task unscathed. Chaffey’s Cooper Brunner singled, stole second and came home on two ground-ball outs to narrow the gap to 2-1 in the sixth.
Sutherland retired the side in order in the seventh, and got a diving catch from Hoss in left field for the final out.
Most of Lakeside’s staff isn’t overpowering – they recorded only two strikeouts against Chaffey – but they’ve managed to keep the ball on the ground and rely on the rest of the defense for outs.
“It’s just the trust, really,” Sutherland said. “Since we are three schools (Issaquah, Skyline and Newport), we really know each other a lot. We just have a good base for our team.”
Chaffey, an independent program that Reese calls “one of the top teams around” was coming off a title victory the previous weekend at the Brandy Pugh Tournament in Bellevue. They draw players from throughout the Puget Sound region, which often gives them a competitive advantage.
“It’s three high schools versus 34, so it’s a big win for Lakeside,” Hoss said. “It comes before the state tournament and everything, so we can get our momentum going before we go to state.”