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Pacers knock off top Metro team


Lakeridge advances thanks to strong pitching and some small ball

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Lakeridge pitcher Levi Rudolph picked up the victory for the Pacers with 5+ strong innings against Westview on Monday.The Lakeridge baseball team played with the poise and confidence of a team possessing plenty of postseason experience on Monday. But the fact of the matter is, the Pacers' 6-2 win over Westview broke a long playoff drought for the baseball program and was yet another big step in its resurgence.

Lakeridge executed its game plan to perfection against the Wildcats, who were the Metro League champions.

Pitcher Levi Rudolph kept the heavy-hitting line-up on its toes for the majority of the game, attack batters with a steady dose of curve balls and off speed pitches.

On offense, Lakeridge did what it does best. It predominantly played small ball and tacked on one run at a time to pull away from Westview late to advance to the round of 16.

“These guys trust and depend on each other. Our big focus heading into the playoffs has just been on executing,” coach Colin Griffin said.

It was a back and forth game early with Lakeridge scoring first and then falling behind 2-1.

Rudolph was effective getting ahead in the count and didn't allow many Westview batters to look for fast balls, which is where its offense is most dangerous.

“Having that break without having a play-in game was a big help for us. I just tried to hit my spots and attack with my curve ball,” Rudolph said.

In the top of the fifth, with the score tied 2-2, Lakeridge took the lead for good. Rick Hiller belted an RBI double to the fence in right field.

Then, with two outs, Rudolph reached on an error and the errant throw allowed Hiller to score to make it 4-2.

In the top of the sixth, Lakeridge capitalized on its momentum as Westview's starter bean to tire.

Cooper Hummel led off with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch. A walk to Dutton Elske put runners on the corner and Hummel would then score on another wild pitch.

After a sacrifice bunt by Graham Leib, Mark Grothe hit an RBI single to make it 6-2.

However, in the bottom of the sixth, Rudolph ran into trouble. He walked the bases loaded with one out and Cooper Webster came on to pitch in relief.

Facing the potential tying run at the plate, Webster coaxed a pop-up and then struck out the next batter to end the threat.

“It's nice to be able to trust the defense and our other pitchers to get the job done,” Rudolph said.

In the bottom of the seventh, Webster gave up a single and a walk with two outs before getting the final batter of the game to line-out, sealing the victory.

It was a huge win for the Pacers who have believed all year that they would be a tough team to knock out in the playoffs.

“There's been a lot of talk about Lakeridge maybe going down to 5A and these kids feel like they've worked too hard for that. They're playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and wanted to prove they can compete with the best teams in the state,” Griffin said.

Lakeridge was scheduled to play at Thurston on Wednesday but results were not available at press time.