Heady, aggressive base-running gave Union a quick five-run lead on Tuesday in its bi-district baseball playoff game at Propstra Stadium.
But Todd Beamer of Federal Way turned the tables, putting pressure on the Union defense and riding productive afternoons from two batters to an 11-9 victory.
The result means Union must win on Wednesday to extend its season. A win in Wednesday’s 4 p.m. game at Heritage Park in Puyallup — against the winner of a Tuesday night loser-out game between Federal Way and Central Kitsap — would give Union two chances on Saturday to earn a spot in the Class 4A baseball state regionals.
By watching Beamer score six unearned runs, Union missed a great chance to take a direct route to a state regional berth.
“We kept battling. We put ourselves in good positions. In playoff baseball you can’t make that many mistakes,” Union coach Ben McGrew said.
Scott Sunitsch went 3 for 4 with a home run and a double for the visitors. He knocked in four runs for Beamer, which scored six runs in the third inning and four in the seventh to win a wild game and clinch a state regional spot. Taylor Davis also had three hits for Beamer.
Union started fast with help from some aggressive base running.
Ethan Beniga stole two bases after drawing a leadoff walk in the first inning, scoring the first run by beating a delayed throw home when courtesy runner Tyler White was caught in a rundown between first and second.
In the second inning, Union scored four runs with two outs thanks to three walks, a hit batsman, a passed ball and a two-run infield single from Cody Hawken,
Beniga said the plan was to run on Sunitch, the Beamer starting pitcher, from the get-go.
Running early and often “helps us get going, gives us a lot of confidence,” Beniga said.
Sunitsch struggled on the mound in the second inning, but made up for it with a double into the gap that cleared the bases as Todd Beamer scored six runs on five hits and one Union error in the top of the third inning.
When Sunitsch hit a leadoff home run in the top of the fifth, Beamer’s lead was 7-5.
Union regained the lead in the sixth inning and was three outs from victory after scoring three runs from two hits, a balk and an error.
Jack Bauer delivered an RBI single and scored the tying run from third on a wild pitch.
He jumped past the tag attempt from Beamer catcher Kepa Sharpe.
Jake Hawken scored the go-ahead on a balk run after a dropped fly ball extended the inning.
But Union’s defense let it down in the seventh, as three errors and a mental mistake helped the visitors score four times.
A squeeze bunt and a sacrifice fly brought home two runs and throwing errors scored the other two.
A walk, a fielder’s choice, a dropped fly ball and a balk resulted in a run and got the tying run to the plate for Union in the bottom of the seventh.
But a flyout ended it.
“Offesively, we kept battling,” McGrew said. “Until it was in the guy’s glove I thought we had a chance.”
Beniga said Tuesday’s troubles won’t linger into Wednesday’s elimination game.
“We never quit. (McGrew) told us to flush this and come back out tomorrow,” Beniga said. “I expect us to compete. I expect us to get the W.”
NOTE — White, who has been undergoing treatment for cancer, saw his first action of the season when entered as a courtesy runner in the first inning.