Out of all the new faces in KingCo 4A this season, it’d be hard to blame Newport coach Brian Fischer for not wanting to see Lake Washington first baseman Erik Folkers’ again.
Not after last Wednesday night.
Folkers went 3-for-4 against Newport with two home runs and five RBIs, helping Lake Washington rally to beat the Knights 10-5 at Bellevue College’s Coulter Field.
Newport had built a 5-3 lead before Folkers’ first home run in the third inning, a solo shot that nailed the scoreboard, cut the deficit to one. His second home run, a three-run homer in the top of the seventh, spoiled any thoughts of a Newport rally and sent the Knights to their third-straight loss.
“We’re struggling right now and we just got to figure it out,” said Newport coach Brian Fischer. “I guess we’re just snakebitten.”
Folkers provided much of that bite with the final home run, his team-leading fourth of the season. The three-run shot turned the 7-5 lead into a five-run deficit for the Knights to try to make up in the bottom of the seventh.
“He’s really stepping up into his own and becoming a force in this league,” said Lake Washington coach Derek Bingham. “He has a knack for those put-away runs.”
The Knights held an early advantage as Newport scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning as Trace Tam Sing and Brad Binder each singled off of Lake Washington starting pitcher Tyler Staudacher. After a rough first two innings, Staudacher, a left-hander, settled down and held the Knights scoreless for the next two innings while his offense tried to chip away at the lead.
The Kangs pulled within one run in the third inning before teeing off on Newport starter Jared Fisher in the fifth, scoring three runs to take a 7-5 lead. Lake Washington took advantage of three Newport errors in the inning and scored all three runs with two outs to take the lead.
“You’ve got to hop on mistakes,” Bingham said. “We took advantage of that today. We’ve turned things around with two outs and that’s a big key to why we’re playing so well right now.”
Junior relief pitcher Trevor Dunlap entered the game for the Kangs after Lake Washington took the lead. Dunlap pitched three scoreless innings for the Kangs, allowing only three hits while striking out four to get the save. The junior has gone 10 and 1/3 innings without allowing a run or walking a batter.
“He started the year on JV, and every time we’ve given him the ball, he’s done exactly what he did today,” Bingham said. “I’ll tell you what, he’s been a lifesaver for us.”
Fisher ended up taking the loss for the Knights, and left after four and 2/3 innings. The sophomore wasn’t helped by his defense, as the Knights made five errors during his time on the mound.
“When it goes bad, it goes bad and it certainly is for us right now,” Fischer said. “We’re just pressing and trying to figure anything out because right now it’s not working.”
Meanwhile, the Kangs continue to roll. Lake Washington won its fourth-straight game Friday, beating Issaquah 2-1 to improve its record to 10-2 overall and 8-2 in conference play. Christian Kaiser struck out 12 batters for the Kangs and Blake Lively got the win with a scoreless seventh inning.
“The thing is, with this league, you gotta play your best or you’re going to get beat,” Bingham said. “Everybody is going to lose games in this league. Nobody is going to run away with it 16-0.”