Wolverines conquer defending state champs on the diamond

The Bellevue Wolverines baseball team made a statement of epic proportions against the Class 3A state champion Lake Washington Kangaroos in a KingCo 3A showdown on the baseball field.

The Wolverines survived a top of the seventh inning rally by the Kangaroos, earning a 3-2 win on April 3 at Bellevue High School. The Wolverines improved their overall record to 5-1 with the win. Lake Washington dropped to 5-3 with the loss. With the Wolverines leading 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, junior outfielder Al Aurelio connected on a solo home-run to right field, extending Bellevue’s lead to 3-0.

The insurance run unveiled by Aurelio turned out to be the difference in the game.

In the top of the seventh, Lake Washington pushed two runs across on a RBI single to the outfield. Lake Washington’s I-Ly Hsue rounded third base and was caught off the bag after Bellevue got the ball back to the infield. Hsue, who was the potential tying run, was caught in a pickle between third base and home-plate. After multiple throws back and forth, the Wolverines finally tagged out Hsue to end the game. Bellevue head coach Tate Seefried said the final play of the game defensively was a simple matter of execution.

“It all boils down to the outfield. He has to hit the cut-off guy and if he doesn’t hit the cut-off guy, who knows what can happen. We practice that every single day,” Seefried said.

Bellevue starting pitcher Jack Enger, who didn’t allow a run in 4 2/3 innings on the hill, thought the game was over once the ball got back to the infield.

“I was confident we were going to throw him out. I saw him rounding off the base. We always practice hitting our cuts (cut-off) and we got it done,” Enger said.

The Bellevue pitching staff was superb against the defending state champs. Enger and relief pitchers AJ Lachini and Colin Suter were cool under pressure throughout the game. With the bases loaded in the top of the fifth, Lachini enticed Lake Washington hitter Daichi Tamai to fly-out to centerfield to end the inning. Suter, who entered the game in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded, got the save for the Wolverines. Seefried said the Wolverines pitching staff is a formidable group. Enger, Lachini and Suter are all seniors.

“It all starts with pitching. Our staff is senior loaded. We had a rough go of it last year and all of the seniors on this staff really want it this year. The leadership that we have is just unbelievable and today it showed. These guys on the mound want the ball and they go out there and produce,” Seefried said. “If they don’t have their stuff, they know the guy behind them will take care of it.”

Collecting a victory against the defending state champions will resonate throughout the remainder of the 2017 season for the Wolverines.

“This is a huge win for us. It shows this team that we’re good and we can compete with the best,” Seefried said.