The Lake Washington baseball team may still be able to reach many of its preseason goals, but the Kangs are not making it easy on themselves.
Lake Washington (8-6 in 4A Kingco) suspended two players for undisclosed reasons this week, forcing the pair to miss the 12-11 loss to Eastlake last Wednesday and a 11-6 loss to Redmond last Thursday. Head coach Derek Bingham declined to comment on the players or the nature of the suspension, and said it was a “possibility” they would return this season.
“I’m not going to go into it,” Bingham said about the suspensions.
One of those sitting out the game was the Kangs’ top hitter, junior Chris Viltz. A Division I college prospect, Viltz was leading 4A KingCo with five homeruns, to go with a .425 batting average, as of last week.
Bingham could have used his team at full strength in the two tough losses to Eastlake and Redmond last week.
“Overall they’ve been pretty tough,” Bingham said of the losses. “On the field and off. We are dealing with some guys who aren’t eligible right now too, so it’s tough. But this short of a season, no excuses, you got to get back up and go. We still control our own destiny. We have to figure it out.”
Lake Washington started strong against Redmond, taking a 6-2 lead thanks to Eric Folkers two-run double in the second and Dan Reynar’s line-drive home run over the left field scoreboard in the third.
But Lake Washington allowed eight runs to score with two outs, including all six in the decisive third inning.
“I told them with zero and one out we are as good as anybody in the league,” Bingham said. “With two outs right now we are battling to get off the field. And so it’s just about somebody stepping up and making a play, and they got to want to do that.”
Already down two players, the Kangs lost a third player when center fielder David Rosser was thrown out of the game by the home plate umpire after being called out on strikes in the fourth inning. There wasn’t a long discussion, and it happened as Rosser was walking back to the dugout.
Rosser highlighted several nice Kang moments prior to that, including a web-gem-worthy catch in the third inning. With a runner on second and nobody out in the third inning, Morris drove a shot into the right center field gap, where David Rosser went nearly completely horizontal to the ground, making a sprawled-out diving catch. He alertly rose to his feet and twirled to throw a perfect strike to the cutoff man, keeping the runner at second.
An inning earlier, it was second basemen David Reynar bringing the fans to their feet with his glove work. After a two-out error allowed a run to score in the first inning, Reynar made a fabulous play to rob Trase Pickering of a hit and a run from scoring, diving up the middle to backhand the ball, then getting to his knees and throwing out a sliding Pickering at first base.
Reynar was one of the star of the evening for the Kangs, also hitting his first career home run with a solo blast in the third inning over the left field scoreboard.
But the individual performances weren’t enough to overcome the two-out woes against the Mustangs. After the Redmond game, Lake Washington was a half a game ahead of Eastlake for the sixth and final playoff spot.
“They have two choices: They can give up or they can keep working hard,” Bingham said. “I know the choice they’ll make and I know the choice I’ll make so we’ll see what happens in the end.”