Liberty baseball drops game to first place Lake Washington

Patriots give up three spot in top of seventh to fall behind Kangs.

Liberty High School gave the league-leading Lake Washington baseball team all they could handle on April 15, but just couldn’t find a way to push the tying run across in the seventh inning and fell to the Kangs 6-5 in a back-and-forth contest.

This Patriot squad has been around .500 all year with some difficult and challenging non-league games so far this season. The first matchup was a low scoring 3-1 win for the Kangs at Lake Washington, and this game had some importance in the standings, with Lake Washington having a one game lead over Liberty for the top spot in 3A KingCo.

Liberty and Lake Washington have always and will always play competitive, tight games. That held true in the 6-5 final.

“We’ve seen each other a lot... You have to stick and move (in games like today),” said Head Coach Kevin Frey

In the bottom of the first, the Patriots got on the board early thanks to a leadoff double from Mac Reynolds and Elliot Oster, scoring Reynolds on a sacrifice fly. It was similar to the first meeting between these sides, when Lake Washington conceded the opening run of the game against Liberty back in March.

The slim 1-0 run went away as fast as it had been gained. Lake Washington responded to tie the game in the top half of the second.

The two sides were deadlocked at one run apiece until the fifth inning. Lake Washington struck first for a pair of runs after loading the bases for the second time in the game. Liberty responded with Alex Brainard and Reynolds reaching base to start the inning.

Left-handed slugger Rohne Klein showed off his speed, legging out an infield single to score Brainard. Two batters later, Eli Shafer lined a single right back up the middle to score Reynolds and tie the game 3-3.

The Patriots used five different pitchers in the one run defeat and left 12 runners stranded across their seven innings of work.

“Jackson Bell was huge today as well as Keaten (Kauzlarich), who gave us huge performances out of the bullpen. They gave us a chance to win up until that last pitch... Our bullpen really limited the damage today,” Frey said.

In the sixth, Liberty ended up taking the lead on an error, and aggressive base running from Frey and Konner Erickson, and went to the seventh with a 4-3 advantage.

Defensively, the Patriots made it tough on the Kangs to push runs across. Elliot Oster in centerfield covered gap to gap with relative ease to keep Kang base runners at bay.

“He was fantastic today in centerfield... It was a tremendous game from him. What he did won’t show up in the box score, but he kept the game close,” Frey said.

The seventh inning saw the wheels fall off of the Liberty car. The first four Kang hitters reached base without recording an out. Vance Phipps singled, scoring two and giving Lake Washington a 5-4 lead. Then two batters later, Aaron Kaufman smacked a double, adding an insurance run, and Liberty was chasing two heading into the seventh.

“Lake Washington is a good team. They’re going to take advantage when you give them some stuff,” Frey said.

To the Patriots’ credit, they gave no quarter. Klein started the inning with a walk and similar to how Liberty scored their run in the sixth, a Lake Washington error allowed Klein to cut the lead to a single run.

After Quinn Turetsky reached base via error, Tyler Peschl followed with a walk to put some two-out pressure on Lake Washington. After a wild pitch, Liberty had the tying and winning runs in scoring positions. Konner Erickson ended up being the final out and went down fighting. He worked a full count and just couldn’t find a way to bring that run across.

Jackson Bell delivers a pitch at Liberty High School against Lake Washington. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Jackson Bell delivers a pitch at Liberty High School against Lake Washington. Ben Ray / The Reporter