Lakeside returns to state tourney as favorite

July 27, 2010

By Bob Taylor

Marcus Gaan, Lakeside Recovery second baseman (right) attempts the tag, as John Schmedding of the Spokane Cannons squirms around him and is called safe on a steal in the second inning July 24 at Bannerwood Park. By Greg Farrar

Lakeside Recovery coach Rob Reese has his senior American Legion baseball team rolling again and at just the right time.

Despite a dubious beginning, Lakeside Recovery is headed to the AAA state tournament with hope of defending its championship.

Lakeside Recovery, which began the season 0-6, plays the Spokane Bandits at noon July 28 in the opening round at Selah.

The local club earned its tournament berth with a 10-7 victory against the Kennewick Bandits in a sub-regional July 25 at Bellevue’s Bannerwood Park. Lakeside Recovery earned the sub-regional’s top seed. Kennewick, which thrashed Bremerton 15-3 in a loser-out game, took the second spot.

Record-wise, Lakeside Recovery enters the state tournament with a modest 22-18 mark.

“Our record is deceiving,” Reese said. “When we started 0-6, we were missing a lot of players because of proms, all-star games and graduation ceremonies. We only had nine or 10 guys playing when the season began.”

Lakeside Recovery also played a rugged schedule that included facing premier teams from the Northwest, as well as strong California clubs at a tournament in San Diego.

It took a while for Lakeside Recovery to gel defensively, because Reese had to replace the entire starting infield from last season.

“We had to move some guys around to get the right combination,” he said. “It took awhile before they started to play well.”

Lakeside Recovery put together two of its best efforts of the season at the sub-regional. In the opening round July 24, Lakeside Recovery defeated the Spokane Cannons 6-5. Issaquah High School graduate Shane Yarnell provided Lakeside Recovery with clutch relief pitching. He blanked the Cannons over the three final innings to protect a one-run lead. Jared Fisher, of Newport, was the winning pitcher.

Mikey Smith, of Skyline, had three hits and drove in two runs to lead Lakeside Recovery. Issaquah graduate Spencer Rogers also had two hits and drove in a run.

The Cannons scored twice in the top of the sixth inning to take a 6-3 lead. However, Lakeside Recovery scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to win the game.

In the game with Kennewick, Reese decided to go with Skyline pitcher Connor Lawhead. The decision paid off as Lawhead baffled the Bandits.

“Kennewick is a great team. They have real good hitters and they can really hit the fastball,” Reese said. “We went with Connor and he did a great job of keeping them off balance. He just battled and battled and kept his composure. He pitched great.”

Lawhead did not record the victory. Instead, it went to Skyline graduate Adrian Sampson, who worked the final two innings in relief.

Issaquah graduate Mike Paulson led the offense with three hits and four RBIs. Paulson smashed a clutch three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game at 5-all. He later drove in the winning run in the seventh.

Rogers had two hits and drove in a run. Reid Dilley, of Newport, had two hits and three RBIs. Both Rogers and Dilley had run-scoring hits in the eighth inning, when Lakeside Recovery wrapped up the game with four runs.

Prior to the sub-regional, Lakeside Recovery concluded its regular season July 20 with a 9-4 victory against Bellevue Legion.

Last year, Lakeside Recovery entered the state tournament as an unlikely candidate to win the championship. However, Lakeside Recovery hitters got hot and the team cruised to the title.

“Our pitching staff has carried us all season. If we do the job defensively and hit, we have a chance to win it again,” Reese said. “We’ve won our last three games. Hopefully, we’re on our way again.”

Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or bobtaylor@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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