Play smart all-around baseball and good things will happen.
That’s what Juanita’s Ryan Trautmann feels teams need to achieve to win crucial games, much like in Thursday’s showdown with crosstown rival Lake Washington in the 3A KingCo tournament at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue.
Trautmann was one of many players who guided the Rebels to a 4-1 victory and a spot in Saturday’s title game. Juanita will take on Mercer Island — a 7-6 winner over Redmond on Thursday — for the crown at 7 p.m. at Bannerwood.
“Obviously, we knew we were 0-2 against them (this year) and we wanted to make a statement against them,” said Trautmann of LW. “We had our horse (Jayson Schroeder) on the bump and we knew he was gonna bring it, and we knew we had to get a few runs for him early in the game and we did that.”
Juanita burst out of the gate early with two runs in the top of the first inning via a wild pitch and an Austin Santiago RBI single.
Schroeder padded the Rebel lead with a blistering RBI ground-rule double to right center in the fifth inning.
Juanita went up 4-0 in the sixth on a Kyle Taylor sacrifice flyout to left field.
After Juanita staved off an LW rally in the sixth, the Kangs barreled back in the seventh and scored on a Sage Quiggle groundout with the bases loaded and one out. The drama continued as LW loaded the bases again with a hit batsman with two outs. The game then ended on a flyout to deep right field.
Juanita had seven hits, including singles from Taylor Peterson, JD Worcester, Taylor, Matthew McKeag and Adam Petter. Trautmann also laid down a sac bunt to keep things rolling in the first inning.
“Our motto is, ‘The next guy up, next guy up’ and we get a runner on base and we move him over and set up the next guy,” said Trautmann, who also made a solid play at second base to throw out a runner at first and end the LW fifth with runners on second and third.
For LW, Jesus Vizcarra got the Kangs’ first hit — a single — in the fifth inning after starting pitcher Schroeder mowed down the first 13 batters. Quiggle singled in the sixth and I-Ly Hsue singled in the seventh off reliever Worcester, who replaced Schroeder earlier in the inning after a pair of walks.
University of Washington-bound Schroeder, who had nine strikeouts, said that if he got ahead of LW hitters with his fastball — which hits the low- to mid-90s — everything would work out.
“If I go out there and just compete and do what I do, I know my work ethic will back that up, and I know all the offseason work that went into this,” said Schroeder, noting that an LW game is always a biggie. “I feel like you’re always a little nervous before the game, but I was excited, it’s a big game. It’s a big win, move on to the championship, so it was great.”
Michael Buchanan went a strong 6.1 innings on the mound for the Kangs, who will play Redmond at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Bannerwood.
“It’s really exciting to be a part of this team. We have to play as a family, but today was kind of rough,” said LW’s I-Ly Hsue. “We really have to just execute and get our bats out again. Just teamwork and being a family, that’s what this organization’s about.”
Added the Kangs’ Nation Wood: “It’s always fun to go out to get a chance to compete against Juanita, especially an arm like you saw today.”
Wood noted that the Kangs will be ready to take the hard road and battle Redmond in a loser-out contest.
“We’ve done it before, I think we won nine in a row earlier this year. We’re a good enough team that if we play our baseball and execute, get runners on — I think we left seven runners on today — I think we’ll win,” he said.