Hazen celebrates their walk-off win as Christopher Moore leaves the field. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Hazen celebrates their walk-off win as Christopher Moore leaves the field. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kentlake baseball falls in heartbreaker to Hazen

After overcoming a 4-1 deficit, Kentlake loses on a walk-off.

In heartbreaking fashion, the Kentlake Falcons were handed their fourth loss of the season on a walk-off double, falling to Hazen 6-5 at Bannerwood on March 18.

Kentlake did all the hard work in their half of the seventh inning, which was the frame that brought all the drama, but their hard work would go unrewarded as they fell to 1-3 on the young 2024 season.

“For the most part, we’ve shown a lot of fortitude early. We’re going to be really battle tested when we get to the end,” said Head Coach Mike Suguro.

The Falcons had their ace Christopher Moore on the mound to take on a tough Highlander lineup, and he faired pretty well in his second outing of the season. Moore ran into some trouble in the second after recording two outs, but the next six batters all reached base.

Three runs came across in the inning for Hazen, and not a single ball put in play reached the outfield grass. Along with an error and two fielders choices that didn’t result in an out — it was just a lapse of mental awareness on a trio of plays that allowed the Highlanders to almost stumble their way in front of Kentlake.

Hazen then added their lone earned run of the game on a single and double from Marcus McCarthy and Kyle Tat to take a 4-0 lead over the Falcons.

In the fourth inning, Moore recorded his one hit of the day with a single through the right side. Moore then came around to score on a Matthew Ledbetter double off of Hazen starter Sam Nicholson. Nicholson had his best start of the year, but that didn’t hamper the Falcons’ spirit.

“It took us a long time, but we slowly started getting better approaches at the plate … We were preaching if we swing at pitches we can hit, we can do some damage. But that guy was tough. I have to give my hat off to Sam. He’s a hell of a pitcher,” Suguro said.

It all came down to the seventh inning. The bottom of the Kentlake order was just 1-10 in the game up until the seventh inning. But after a leadoff single and a walk, the momentum was shifting the way of the Falcons. With one out and the bases loaded, Joshua Manaois smacked a single through the right side to cut the lead to just one run 4-3.

“He told me, ‘Coach I got you. I am going to hit the ball hard.’ That’s all we can ask of the guys. We don’t ask them to do too much. We want them to hit the ball hard, and if you hit it hard where they aren’t, good things will happen,” Suguro said.

After Moore was intentionally walked and reached base for the fourth time in the game, Ethan Loughry was tasked with keeping the game alive. On a 3-2 pitch, he was hit in the leg and tied the game in the bottom of the seventh. The following batter, Juan Hernandez, hit a sharp one hopper to the shortstop whose spectacular snag kept the game at 5-4 with Kentlake in front.

Moore may be known for lighting up the radar gun on the mound. But his presence as a hitter in just his sophomore year has impressed Suguro.

“He’s super disciplined. He’s way past what we expected. He’s a heck of a ball player. He’s going to be a feared Falcon down the stretch,” Suguro said.

All that magic, and the momentum of a 4-run top of the seventh, seemed to be enough for Kentlake to steal the game from right underneath of the Highlanders. Additionally, Loughry had been cruising on the mound in relief of Moore. In his first inning of work he allowed one hit but struck out all three other batters.

“He’s got a lot of great things that he does,” Suguro said about Loughry.

A single and walk proved to be costly as the third batter of the inning, Kyle Tat, sent a ball into the right-center gap and both runs came around to score, winning the game for Hazen.

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Christopher Moore pitching against Hazen at Bannerwood Park. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Christopher Moore pitching against Hazen at Bannerwood Park. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Ethan Loghry steps into the box against Hazen. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Ethan Loghry steps into the box against Hazen. Ben Ray / The Reporter

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