Wolves devour Bellevue on the baseball diamond
March 27, 2014
By Neil Pierson
Mark Whitley’s varsity debut on the mound for the Eastlake Wolves couldn’t have gone much better.
The sophomore right-hander dominated the visiting Bellevue Wolverines on March 19, throwing shutout ball over five innings as the Wolves won 8-1 in a nonleague baseball game.
As a freshman, Whitley saw some late-season action with the varsity squad in the KingCo Conference playoffs, and he went into the offseason knowing he had a chance to play a bigger role in 2014.
Whitley did just that against Bellevue. He allowed two walks and one hit – a fifth-inning single – while striking out one. A diving catch from center fielder Nathan Mano on the game’s first at-bat set the tone for Whitley’s stellar performance.
“I knew if I threw it over the plate and they hit it, my defense would be behind me and they’d make a play,” Whitley said.
He wasn’t assured of getting a win, however, until the Wolves broke things open in the fifth inning. Senior outfielder Carson Iraola started the rally with a double and capped it with an RBI single, the last of six runs that put Eastlake ahead 7-0.
“We jumped out and got a run early – that’s always good to score first,” Wolves coach Kevin Agnew said. “Their pitchers had a little bit of trouble when the rain really started coming down, so we kind of benefited from that, had a couple walks.”
Rain and hail fell for much of the game, but the Wolves seemed to handle the weather conditions. On the other hand, Bellevue’s two pitchers issued 10 walks, including four in the fifth inning.
Max Escarda delivered a two-out, two-strike single for a 5-0 lead, and Iraola singled two batters later to make it 7-0.
Jackson Dahl drove in three runs for Eastlake, two of them on sacrifice flies. In the first inning, Dahl’s fly ball scored Mano, who had walked and stole second.
Mano, the Wolves’ leadoff man, scored his third run of the game in the sixth on another Dahl flyout, putting Eastlake up 8-0.
Bellevue avoided the shutout with two outs in the seventh, getting an RBI groundout against reliever Elliot Carney. But Eastlake out-hit Bellevue 5-2, and played error-free defense.
The Wolves improved to 3-0 after their road trip to Yakima the previous weekend resulted in wins over West Valley and Davis.
“We went out and West Valley put up a seven-run inning on us,” the coach said, “so it was kind of one of those things where we were waiting to see how our guys were going to respond.
“They bounced right back in the next half-inning and put up six to respond to them … We love going to West Valley and Davis because those guys are as well-coached as they get, their kids play hard, they compete.”
Eastlake opens conference play this week with two road games, March 28 at Bothell and March 31 at Woodinville. Picking up wins in the nonconference slate is helping to build momentum, Whitley said.
“Now that we have the confidence to know that we’re a good team and we can win, we can build off it, get even better and get some more good wins,” he said.