April 16, 2013
By Lillian O'Rorke
Skyline wins battle of division leaders in 1-0 win over Eastlake
It wasn’t just a matchup of neighboring plateau baseball teams April 8. It was a battle between the leaders of KingCo’s two divisions when the Skyline Spartans edged out the Eastlake Wolves in a single-run game.
“It was a couple good pitchers and some super defense out there. Two good teams,” Chris Tamminen, head coach of the Spartans, said. “They [Eastlake] have some good senior leadership … and good talent. They are definitely a team that is going to be there in the end.”
Eastlake, which at 5-3 is No. 1 in the KingCo Crest Division, saw the return of 13 of its varsity players this year, including starting pitcher Josh Barokas. As of April 11, the Eastlake senior had an ERA of 0.60 with 19 strikeouts. During the game against Skyline, Barokas pitched all seven innings, allowing only two hits, one run and zero walks, and had three strikeouts.
One run, however, was all the Spartans needed to claim victory in the 1-0 game.
Jason Santiago, a junior at Skyline, was first to step up the plate at the top of the second inning. On a changeup from Barokas, he knocked it to the center field for a double.
“We knew that their pitcher is really good,” Santiago said. “I was looking for something in the zone that I could drive, something that I could hit hard.”
From second base, Santiago scored when teammate Ian Smith hit a line drive that smacked Barokas in the leg. An overthrow at first while Santiago was rounding third automatically put Skyline on the board. No one would score again.
“Going into it, we didn’t know it would be a one-run game,” Santiago said. “You feel a surge to just try and do something for your team, but when no one is scoring runs, it’s kind of like the game is frozen.”
By the bottom of the seventh, the game could have gone either way. Eastlake was at bat with two outs and runners on second and third. With a batting average of .366, Eastlake senior Michael Staudinger stepped up to the plate. Skyline’s Drew Lunde had taken over pitching and whittled Staudinger down to one ball, two strikes.
“I had to get ahead of the batter,” Lunde said. After being told by his catcher that Staudinger had already hit two curveballs that game, Lunde explained that he decided to throw him a fast ball.
It worked. Staudinger struck out. The game was over.
“It felt great,” Lunde said. “It’s a huge rivalry. It’s a huge game for us. Especially being that close at the end, it really shows the character of our team being able to win these close games.”
Lunde had taken over pitching for Corbin Powers, who has an ERA of 0.70 with 22 strikeouts. Against Eastlake, the Skyline senior pitched six innings with just as many hits, four strikeouts and one walk.
“Giving up six hits is kind of a lot for me, but knowing my defense had my back was a help for me,” Powers said. “It was a huge team effort.”
The win was the third victory in a row for Skyline; two days later, it grabbed its fourth in a 4-3 home game against Inglemoor. Now with an 8-1 conference record, the Spartans are not only leading the Crown Division, but they are also first in KingCo and ranked ninth in the state overall by Washingtonbaseballpoll.com.
“We are all really excited about that, but we are trying to remain humble as well,” Powers said. “Our team has really stepped up from the beginning of the year, and everyone has been doing 110 percent.”
With a roster of 16 that saw only two starters from last season return, Skyline has surprised many, including itself.
“I try to set low expectations so I get surprised. You just never know,” Tamminen said, explaining that he hadn’t pictured the team going this far with only one loss.
“You don’t know, until you start playing, where you stack up,” he added. “We have really good, high-character kids.”