Outside the roped-off area by the Lake Washington High dugout, people wanted to congratulate Dylan Kennedy.
The Kang faithful would have to wait a little longer as the senior batsman discussed what it was like to deliver the biggest hit of his career.
With the score tied 1-1 with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Kennedy cracked a single to score Torin Montgomery and send the Kangs to the 3A state baseball tournament with a thrilling 2-1 loser-out victory over Eastside Catholic at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue.
“I just thought, there was two outs and this is my opportunity to clutch up for the team and go to state,” Kennedy said. “It felt great. I held my hand up, I knew it was through. I knew that was the end of the game right there.”
He felt a tinge of pressure, but confidence prevailed in the end.
“Everyone was just saying, yeah, you’re due. Everyone thought I was gonna get a hit, cheering me on from behind, and I just embraced all that and went up there and got the job done,” said Kennedy, as a girl yelled, “Yeah, Dylan!” in the background.
Kang head coach Derek Bingham joked that Kennedy’s fan club was there for him.
Also nailing singles for the Kangs in the KingCo-Metro crossover game were Ricky Koishida with two and Travis Lee, Jesus Vizcarra and Montgomery with one apiece. LW’s Jordan Sacks nearly won the game in the bottom of the seventh when he hammered a line drive toward left field, but Eastside Catholic third baseman Nico Carrigan leaped to snag the out and double a runner up at second base to end the threat.
Eastside Catholic scored in the top of the first and LW knotted the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the second.
Starting pitchers Oliver Laufman of LW and Eastside Catholic’s Will Armbruester went toe to toe on the pitching rubber throughout the game. Laufman went seven innings and Armbruester went eight and two thirds innings. Both pitchers were near the 105-pitch count when they exited the game.
Bingham praised Armbruester and Laufman for dueling it out in a game that had emotions flowing on both sides.
“They’re just really well coached and really talented and it takes a lot to beat them,” Bingham said of Eastside Catholic. “It was an impressive performance on both sides, and it just so happened that we had the last one.”
Eastside Catholic beat LW, 3-1, earlier this year at T-Mobile Park and it’s always a battle when the two squads face each other, Bingham said.
Bingham added that the Kangs had to rebound to advance. After losing to Mercer Island in the playoff opener, the Kangs beat Juanita, Interlake and Eastside Catholic in succession in loser-out games.
“When you lose that first one (to Mercer Island), it’s hard to get over. We challenged the kids on Saturday night (May 4) that they had to forget about it,” Bingham said. “And we were kind of eyeing the matchup all week, we knew it was gonna be a really good team out of Metro.”
It’s a team effort the whole way, Bingham said, “and there’s nothing we’d rather be doing than preparing to go to Yakima next Saturday.”