Ethan Loghry on the bump pitched a gem for the Falcons. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Ethan Loghry on the bump pitched a gem for the Falcons. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kentlake baseball stays alive with a walk-off win

Falcons move on to winner-to-state game.

Kentlake baseball has now won the 3A NPSL back-to-back years, but a trip to the state tournament has eluded the Falcons since 2018.

Last year’s run saw the Falcons fall in the first two games of the district tournament. This year, Kentlake dropped their opening game 2-0 to Silas. Identical to last year. But their second game finished much different.

“It was a huge monkey off of our back and the elephant in the room that no one wanted to talk about. We have our end goal in mind of where we want to take this thing… Getting the monkey off our back takes a huge amount of pressure off these kids,” skipper Mike Suguro said.

On May 8, Kentlake defeated the Bonney Lake Panthers 2-1 in the eighth inning on a Christopher Moore walk-off single. Moore may have won the game and has been instrumental in the Falcons run. But the night belonged to Ethan Loughry and Gavin Liechty, who gave Kentlake a chance.

“Getting this one, getting us over the hump is huge for our confidence,” Loughry said.

Loghry got the start on the bump for the Falcons and was lights out. He tossed 7 innings, even facing one batter in the eighth before being taken out. He held Bonney Lake to just four hits and one earned run and had Panther hitters off balance all night.

“He’s been our horse. He goes out there and competes his tail off every time. He commands three pitches for strikes and is always tough,” Suguro said.

Loghry may get the flowers for his performance on the mound, but he made it clear it was a team effort to take down the Panthers.

“I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes. Juan (Hernandez) called a hell of a game and I had really good defense. Have to give credit where credit is due,” Loghry said.

He escaped multiple innings with runners in scoring position, striking out two in the fourth with runners on first and third and escaped the fifth with runners on second and third. Being comfortable in uncomfortable situations is nothing Loghry can’t handle.

“I don’t try to put too much pressure on myself. I just try to throw strikes and let my defense work behind me and it worked pretty good tonight,” Loghry said.

The Falcons got their one run in the second, but had an opportunity for much more. Juan Hernandez and Gavin Liechty started off the inning getting on base with a single and a walk, respectively. Alexander Williamson came through with a single in the second and his first RBI of the postseason, and has now recorded an RBI in three out of his last four games.

Loghry used that run, and it seemed like that was all that he needed until the sixth, when the Panthers scraped one run across on a RBI single.

A big turning point of the game outside of the game winning hit in the bottom of the eighth was the top of the eighth. Loghry had just walked the leadoff man and Liechty entered from the bullpen.

“He’s an animal out of the pen. I had and have 100% confidence in him… We just got some dogs on our team,” said Loghry.

With the season on the line, and the go-ahead run on base, Liechty struck out the side, needing just 15 pitches. Playoff baseball is all about those moments.

“We know that when we are in a crunch time situation, no situation is ever too big for him. He’s got a slow heartbeat and can go out there and compete. He’s been nails for us all year,” Suguro said.

In the home half of the eighth, Matthew Ledbetter punched a leadoff single to right field. With Christopher Moore up to bat, Suguro went with a hit and run to get Ledbetter in scoring position and it paid off with a stolen base. On the very next pitch, Moore smacked a single up the middle and Ledbetter scored without a play.

“Once we got into scoring position, big time players make big time plays,” Suguro said.

“He’s just an absolute dog, at the plate, on the mound. He is just a different animal,” Loghry said about his teammate. “He’s been a dog all year. He’s a great guy.”

Kentlake takes on Auburn Mountainview in a winner-to-state game. The Falcons swept the Lions in the regular season. It is just another game for the Falcons: “We just want to play baseball, doesn’t really matter who we got… I’m excited for the competition. We’ll have fortitude and get it done,” Loghry said.

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Kentlake celebrates in centerfield after Christopher Moore’s game winning hit. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kentlake celebrates in centerfield after Christopher Moore’s game winning hit. Ben Ray / The Reporter

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