Friday, July 21, 2017 This Week's Paper

Life Christian uses small ball to top Tacoma Baptist

// Five-run second inning helps Eagles take control

The Life Christian baseball team was eager to get back to work after spring break. Using a five-run second inning and scoring at least a run in each frame, the Eagles took a 12-2 nonleague win over Tacoma Baptist in a five-inning contest on April 9 at Cirque Park in University Place.

“We’ve had 12 days off,” said Life Christian head coach Gregg Leach. “We’re really thankful to get back because we have a really tough league, and it starts again tomorrow.”

Tacoma Baptist struck first in the top of the first inning when Tommie Brazile scored on a wild pitch after an earlier single, but Life Christian tied it in the bottom half on Sam Absten’s groundout to score Drex Davis. Matt Hallstrom gave the Crusaders a momentary 2-1 lead in the second with a double to score Isaiah Kazarovich, but the floodgates then opened for the Eagles. Hunter Haley led off with a walk and tied it by scoring on a wild pitch, and Davis gave the Crusaders the lead for good with a run-scoring double to plate Connor Kuykendall. Davis and Absten later scored on throwing errors, while Taylor Roeloffs scored on a wild pitch as the Eagles quickly held a 6-2 lead.

“We’re young and inexperienced,” said Tacoma Baptist head coach Kraig Gillman. “We’ve struggled playing defense. Our pitching has been decent, but we’ve struggled making the routine plays.”

Sam Veliz took the mound for Life Christian in the third and pitched three scoreless innings to pick up the win, including striking out the side in the fourth and tallying five total strikeouts.

The Eagles’ offense then added two runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings, as Kevin Breen forced the mercy rule in the fifth with a single to score Davis. Haley and Gage Roth had run-scoring singles in the third, and Jeremy Pallwitz added a booming run-scoring double in the fourth. The Eagles used just eight hits to tally their 12 runs, but drew five walks, were hit by a pitch three times and tallied 13 stolen bases.

“Right now we don’t have the big boppers that come up with the huge hits all the time, so we need to do the little things to move the runners along…playing little ball and being fundamentally sound,” Leach said.

The win puts the Eagles at 5-4 overall, with a 3-3 mark in the Nisqually 1A league, while Tacoma Baptist dropped to 4-6 overall with a 1-2 mark in the Sea-Tac 2B league.

The Crusaders were set for another nonleague affair at Charles Wright on April 11 before traveling to take on league foe Seattle Lutheran on April 17. The Eagles were scheduled to take on league-leading Cedar Park Christian on April 10, and will travel to Seattle Christian on April 12 at 4 p.m. They sat in sixth place in the league but were just one game out of a playoff spot with 10 league contests remaining.

“The boys are buying into the program,” Leach said. “We have options this year. We have a good nucleus of players. It’s been a real blessing.”