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Knights find a way to state baseball semifinal

King’s Way Christian pulls out pair of one-run wins

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter
Published: May 20, 2017, 11:16pm
2 Photos
The King's Way Christian baseball team spills out of the dugout after Damon Casetta-Stubbs slides home with the winning run against Cascade Christian.
The King's Way Christian baseball team spills out of the dugout after Damon Casetta-Stubbs slides home with the winning run against Cascade Christian. (Ken Waz/For The Columbian) Photo Gallery

CASTLE ROCK — The King’s Way Christian baseball team is not just going to the state semifinals for the first time, the Knights get to say they earned it in epic fashion.

There was a walk-off win in their first game Saturday, and they topped that by rallying from a four-run deficit to stun Overlake of Redmond 7-6 in the quarterfinals at Castle Rock High School.

Riley Danberg, Isaiah Parker, and Karter Graves had the run-scoring hits in the top of the seventh to complete to comeback.

“It’s like no feeling ever. It’s just crazy,” said Danberg, who threw the final four innings to get the win against Overlake plus had the game-tying double. “This is huge.”

Historic, even, for this program.

“It’s an awesome feeling. It’s a family feeling,” said Matt Garrison, whose defensive gem in the bottom of the seventh inning kept the Knights in the lead against Overlake. “They are all my brothers. Just a great atmosphere to be in. The coaches are like father figures. All just great guys.”

They all shared in these victories, too.

“I’m overjoyed,” coach Ty Singleton said. “What adds to that joy is so many members of this team played such a critical role.”

There was no room for error in the opener against Cascade Christian, a scoreless game until Damon Casetta-Stubbs led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a triple and came home on Brannan Meriwether’s single.

And there was no give-up in the team when Overlake went up 5-1 after the fifth inning.

The Knights got three runs the sixth inning. Liam Nabors had a run-scoring double and Graves drove in another in the frame.

That gave King’s Way some momentum. Danberg got a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth, setting the stage for a King’s Way rush to Yakima. The first six batters all reached base, with Danberg tying the game with a double and advancing to third on the throw.

“I just kept my eye on the ball, kept my weight back, and I swung away,” Danberg said. “It’s just crazy to have that happen, getting in the tying run, standing on third base, waiting for someone to hit me in. Just awesome.”

Two walks loaded the bases, and Parker came through with a shot up the middle for a 6-5 lead.

Parker said he doesn’t really remember much other than seeing the ball get out of the infield.

“I don’t even know. It was just so much fun,” he said. “I can’t really explain it in words. I don’t even know.”

Graves put down a bunt, and the ball stopped on the line. Fair ball and another run scored for a 7-5 lead.

More drama in the bottom of the seventh. Overlake scored one run and had runners on the corners with one out when a liner was sent Garrison’s way in right field. He had to go to the ground to make the catch, bounced up, and threw a strike to home plate, holding the runner at third.

“That throw,” Garrison said, practically in awe of his play. “I didn’t know I was going to make that throw. It could have gone left or right. It was right on the money.”

The next batter popped up to Parker at shortstop for the King’s Way victory.

Danberg entered the game in the fourth inning, trailing 4-1.

“Just go in there and do my job. Just throw strikes,” he said. “Do what I could do to get outs and let our bats do the work.”

Defensively, center fielder Garrett Wellman threw out a runner at the plate in the fourth inning. In what turned into a one-run game, that was another big play for the Knights.

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They had some of those in their first game Saturday, too.

Sam Lauderdale pitched into the sixth inning, getting out of jams with his nine strikeouts and help from his defense.

Nabors, playing in left field, threw out a runner at the plate in the fifth inning.

“It was one of those plays you dream about,” Nabors said.

Cascade Christian had three hits in the fifth inning, loaded the bases in the sixth, and had two runners in the seventh but did not score. Casetta-Stubbs got the pitching win in relief.

Casetta-Stubbs led off the bottom of the seventh with a triple. One out later, he came home on a hit against a drawn-in infield by Meriwether. The Knights would get to keep playing Saturday.

Nabors described what happened in the first game:

“We believe in each other,” Nabors said. “We believe in our pitchers. And we believe we can get the clutch hits when we needed to.”

Sounds a lot like the second game, too.

The Knights kept believing, and they are headed to the final four.

Columbian High School Sports Reporter