YAKIMA — The Knights are so clutch.
And now they are so close to a state championship.
King’s Way Christian won its third consecutive one-run game in the state baseball playoffs, rallying to beat Cashmere 4-3 Friday in a Class 1A state semifinal at Yakima County Stadium.
Cooper Conway’s two-run single in the top of the sixth inning broke a 2-2 tie, capping a three-run frame to put King’s Way Christian into Saturday’s championship game. This is the program’s first trip to the state semifinals.
“I’ve wanted to do this since the program became a thing,” Conway said. “It’s a huge deal for a lot of the guys. Hopefully we can finish the job.”
Sam Lauderdale struck out 11, pitching into the sixth inning to get the win. Damon Casetta-Stubbs pitched the seventh for the save.
“We knew from the beginning we had a real good shot at this. We earned this,” Lauderdale said. “We’re not a fluke.”
“Since Day One, we wanted to be here,” added Casetta-Stubbs. “Now we’re here. And we want to end the season on a win.”
King’s Way Christian will play the winner Cedar Park Christian vs. Freeman game at 4 p.m. Saturday.
To get there, the Knights had to give themselves — and their fans — more drama. King’s Way Christian won 8-7 and 1-0 games last week in the first and second rounds of the state playoffs.
Hudson White had three doubles and drove in two runs for Cashmere. The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the second and went ahead 2-1 in the fifth inning.
King’s Way broke through in the sixth inning when the first three batters of the inning reached base. They would all eventually score. Casetta-Stubbs came home on a wild pitch to tie the game. One out later, Cooper drove in Lauderdale and Brannan Meriwether for a 4-2 advantage.
“It’s great, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without my teammates,” Cooper said. “All the guys worked together.”
Still, Cooper will go down in King’s Way Christian history as the guy who got it done at the plate in the semifinals.
“It was exciting,” Cooper acknowledged. “That’s all I’ve got. It was pretty exciting. It was pretty fun.”
White’s third double of the game scored a run for Cashmere in the bottom of the sixth.
Time for Casetta-Stubbs.
“I was thinking all game I was going to get an inning. I told myself, ‘I’m ready for this,’” Casetta-Stubbs said.
He also had a conversation with his coach.
“I told him I wanted the ball.”
Casetta-Stubbs walked the first batter, but catcher Karter Graves took care of him, throwing out the runner trying to steal second. With two outs, there was a King’s Way error to extend the inning.
Still, no concern from the closer.
“It’s nice knowing I have the stuff to get the next guy out,” Casetta-Stubbs said.
A called third strike set off a King’s Way Christian celebration.
Lauderdale said he thought he was going to be nervous, but he wasn’t. Not even after Cashmere took an early lead.
“I had a feeling this was going to be our game,” he said.
If it is close this postseason, it is going King’s Way’s way.
KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN 4, CASHMERE 3
King’s Way 000 103 0—4 6 1
Cashmere 010 011 0—3 5 2
King’s Way Christian
Pitcher — Sam Lauderdale 5.1 IP, win, 11 Ks; Riley Danberg .2 IP; Damon Casetta-Stubbs 1 IP, save. Highlights — Riley Danberg 1-2; Lauderdale 2-3; Isaiah Parker 2-3, 2B; Cooper Conway 1-3, 2 RBI.
Pitcher — Tyler Chipman 5.1 IP, loss; Garrett Tarver .2 IP; Tanner Van Lith 1 IP. Highlights — Garrett Tarver 1-3; Hudson White 3-3, 3 2Bs, 2 RBI; Tanner Van Lith 1-2; Jay Lightfoot 0-2, RBI.