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Lakewood Cougars to face Sehome Saturday with state berth on the line
ANACORTES — The Cougars nearly earned a trip to the state tournament via the suicide squeeze.
Lakewood's small-ball strategy was enough to force extra innings against defending 2A state champion Archbishop Murphy, but in the end the Cougars lost 8-7 in a winner-to-state game at Daniels Field in Anacortes.
"We're disappointed, but it wasn't because a lack of effort," said Lakewood manager Larry Delaney.
The Cougars rallied from a 7-6 deficit in the top of the seventh inning to score a pair of runs on just one hit. Luke Harkins walked to lead off the inning. He was followed by Kevin Harnden's bunt single and Micheal Leach moved both runners over on a sacrifice bunt. Then the squeeze sent Harkins to the plate with Freddy Perez up. Although Perez didn't make contact, ATM's catcher mishandled the pitch reception, allowing Harkins to steal home. Alex Keen then brought home Harnden on an RBI single.
But the Wildcats evened the score in the bottom half of the inning off a homer by Tyler Kane.
The Cougars had a chance to strike first in extra innings, when Shay Dearing had a bunt single and advanced to second on a misthrow to the pitcher. Andrew Bean sacrificed him over to third with one out. Delaney then called for the squeeze again, but this time ATM was waiting for it.
"You do that it's a roll of the dice," said Delaney. "That's our style of play. They had a good pitcher on the hill with a good curve ball and stays low in the zone. We did it in the seventh and were winners."
Although the Cougars now are in a must-win situation against Sehome, May 15, Delaney said he was proud of his players' performance.
"We're not going to go toe-to-toe with a powerful offense like Archbishop Murphy, but despite the fact we were outhit 17-6, we strung together every run we got," Delaney said. "And we kept them from getting that big inning they are known for."
The most ATM scored was two in three different innings.
"You've got to hand it to Kevin (Harnden)," Delaney said. "He had a gutsy performance out there on the mount. He pitched well against a potent offense. We knew they were going to score runs, but we had to minimize the blows to stay in the game and he did that for us."
Harnden, a junior, pitched six innings.