Kangaroos face Tides in state semifinals May 24

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Players and coaches line up after introductions to honor America.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

WASHINGTON – Nearly six weeks after the conclusion of the 41st Morenci Lions Club Invitational baseball tournament, the meet winner is in the state tourney semifinals Friday, May 24.

The Washington Kirkland Lake Washington Kangaroos (24-2 overall, 12-0 league) are paired with the Gig Harbor Tides (15-6, 11-3) at 1 p.m., following the Seattle O’Dea Fighting Irish (18-2, 10-2) versus the Olympia Capital Cougars (11-8, 5-5) at 10 a.m. The losers play for third place at 10 a.m. and the winners meet for the title at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 25. Lake Washington was rated No. 1 (23.2) in 3A, Gig Harbor No. 12 (13.3), O’Dea No. 5 (18.7), and Capital No. 17 (9.2) on May 17.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Assistant coaches Jared Neyens and Don Howarth along with head coach Derek Bingham watch the teams’ first game in Morenci.

Nine other Morenci Lions tourney participants were also in the post-season, but only two reached the championship game. The 1A No. 2 Heber Mogollon Mustangs and the 2A No. 10 Morenci Wildcats, ended as state champions and runners-up, respectively. Mogollon bested top-ranked Bagdad 6-2 in 11 innings and Morenci was edged 3-2 by top-ranked Scottsdale Christian 3-2 in Tempe Diablo Stadium on May 13.

The Emerald City suburb team rolled over four opponents en route to the Morenci tourney title. The “explosive” Washington “Boys of Spring” posted 45 hits in scoring 50 runs and committed seven errors compared to six hits, five runs, and 12 for their combined opponents. Saint Johns fell 11-3 in five innings, Safford 7-0 (6 inn.), Thatcher 17-1 (5 inn.), and host Morenci 15-1 (5 inn.).

Five Kangaroos made the all-tournament team in Morenci, senior outfielder Ricky Koishida, junior pitcher Lane Kraabel, senior infielder Travis Lee, senior infielder Torin Montgomery, and senior outfielder Nation Wood. Additionally, Montgomery received the Robert Sotelo Sportsmanship Award and Wood the Daniel Lopez Most Valuable Player Award.

As dominant as the Evergreen State entrant was in Morenci during April, the Kangaroos were in a must-win district tourney game, winning 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning May 11, to qualify for the state meet.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Ricky Koishida returns to first base against Saint Johns during the Kangaroos initial game of the 41st Morenci Lions tourney April11, an 11-3 five-innings win. The all-league second teamer is batting .365.

The Kangaroos dropped a 5-4 district tourney pairing in the opening round to No. 4 Mercer Island as the No. 1 seed May 4, and eliminated both No. 2 Juanita 12-6 in the next round May 6 and No. 3 Interlake 10-0 in five innings May 8. Mercer Island defeated Interlake 10-3 May 6 for the district title and automatic state tourney berth.

Team LW needed a KingCo – Metro Crossover 2-1 win over Eastside Catholic on May 11, the team handing it a 3-1 loss on April 6, to continue playing.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior outfielder Nation Wood is congratulated by teammates following a home run. He dispatched two; the first tied a team record of five and the second set a new mark. Heading into the state meet, the league player of the year was batting .413 and the state co-leader in home runs (8) and RBIs (33).

The Derek Bingham-coached Kangaroos eliminated the District 8 champion Kennewick Kamiakin Braves (20-2, 14-2) 10-4 in the state tourney first round and the District 6 runner-up Mead Mount Spokane Wildcats (22-2, 17-1) 10-2 in the quarterfinals May 18.

Through 23 games, excluding the Eastside Catholic game, the Kangaroos’ team batting average was .354 (211-596, 194 RBIs, 53 doubles, 3 triples, 13 home runs) with 10 hitting over .300. The pitching staff had a combined 1.94 era, with 148 strikeouts, 60 walks, and 98 hits while facing 600 batters during 144 innings.

Individually, Wood batted .413 (26-63, 33 RBIs, 10 doubles, triple, 8 home runs) in 23 games, Lee .391 (25-64, 25 RBIs, 4 doubles, 2 home runs) in 22 games, Montgomery .377 (23-61, 23 RBIs, 8 doubles, triple, home run) in 23 games, Koishida .365 (23-63, 23 RBIs, 3 doubles) in 23 games, and Kraabel a 2.94 earned run average with 25 strikeouts, 10 walks, and allowed 12 hits while facing 76 batters in 16.2 innings.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior first baseman Torin Montgomery lauds a teammates’ positive play from the batter’s circle. The all-league first teamer is batting .377 heading into the state playoffs.

Three seniors pace the 8-member pitching staff, Urrutia (1.67 era) with 17 strikeouts, 3 walks, and 21 hits while facing 113 batters during 29 1/3 innings; Jose Vizcarra (2.31 era) with 44 strikeouts, 14 walks, and 21 hits while facing 136 batters during 33 1/3 innings; and Oliver Laufman (2.51 era) with 33 strikeouts, 20 walks, and 29 hits while facing 141 batters during 30 2/3 innings.

Senior Jose Vizcarra batted .413 (15-32, 10 RBIs, double) in 22 games, senior Nick Anderson .378 (14-37, 9RBIs, 3 double) in 20 games, senior I-Ly Hue .377 (26-69, 21 RBIs, 8 doubles, home run) in 23 games, senior Jesus Vizcarra .349 (22-63, 21 RBIs, 6 doubles) in 23 games, senior Andrew Urrutia .333 (4-12, 5 RBIs, 2 doubles) in 20 games, and junior John Sacks .325 (13-40, 11 RBIs, 2 doubles, triple) in 23 games.

Jose Vizcarra (pitcher), Jesus Vizcarra (catcher), Montgomery (first base), Hsue (second base), Lee (shortstop), and Wood (outfielder) were selected all-league first team; Urrutia (pitcher), Koishida (outfielder), and Anderson (outfielder) second team; and Laufman (pitcher), senior Dylan Kennedy (third base), and Sacks (outfielder) received honorable mention.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior second baseman I-Ly Hsue awaits a pitch during a game in Morenci. The all-league first teamer is batting .377.

Additionally, Wood was named league player of the year and 15th-year head coach Derek Bingham (252-107 overall, 175-60 district, 10-6 state playoffs) coach of the year.

Wood currently is the state leader in runs batted in (36) and his eight home runs are second to 4A Federal Way senior Josh Mears (10, .500, 38-76).

Bingham had 13 players suited up for the 2019 Senior Night with 10 committed to play in the next level.

During his 15-year reign, 147 seniors have played in his program with 76 going on to the collegiate level, and five ascending the professional ranks.

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