King’s Way Christian High School launched its baseball program in 2015. Two years later, the Knights captured the first state team title in any sport in school history. The Knights would return to the 1A state title game in 2018, but lose to place second.
This is the story from the 2017 state championship team.
YAKIMA — Another comeback.
Another close win.
A first state championship.
The King’s Way Christian baseball team beat Cedar Park Christian of Bothell 5-3 in the Class 1A state title game on Saturday at Yakima County Stadium. It’s the first state title in any sport for the 13-year-old school.
The Knights (23-2) completed their run through the 1A state playoffs with the same style and swagger they have shown all postseason.
Again, the Knights prevailed in a close game. Each of three previous wins in the state playoffs were decided by one run.
Again, King’s Way came from behind. The Knights overcame an early 3-1 deficit for their fourth straight come-from-behind win.
Again, the Knights won with smiles on their faces. Hoisting the state trophy, players donned sombreros and caressed an inflatable pink flamingo. Teammates tossed sunflower seeds at each other and doused coach Ty Singleton with ice water.
What was the Knights’ secret ingredient?
“It has been hope,” junior pitcher Damon Casetta-Stubbs said. “We’ve been hopeful. We’ve been here. We believe in ourselves. We know what to do.”
Casetta-Stubbs overcame a rocky start that saw him allow three runs and six hits in the first three innings. He retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced before the 105-pitch limit forced him from the game in the seventh.
“Incredible,” teammate Garrett Wellman said of Casetta-Stubbs. “I’ve played with him for three or four years and that was truly one of his best outings ever. It was really fun to watch.”
Casetta-Stubbs kept King’s Way in the game until its hitters found their rhythm. It was a sixth-inning rally that put the Knights over the top.
With the Knights trailing 3-2, Brannan Meriwether led off the inning with a single, then advanced to third on a wild pickoff throw. Riley Danberg followed with a single to tie the game.
After the next two batters got out, sophomore Isaiah Parker provided what might be the biggest hit of the Knights’ season. The No. 9 hitter gave King’s Way a 4-3 lead with a double just out of the center-fielder’s grasp.
“I was just thinking hit the ball hard through the infield and score the run,” Parker said. “I was just hoping he did not catch it. He made a great effort on it though, so I was kind of scared, to be honest. When I saw it drop, I was so excited.”
King’s Way added a run in the top of the seventh. Sam Lauderdale’s sacrifice fly drove in Wellman, who was 2 for 2 with two walks and two runs.
With Casetta-Stubbs out of the game, Danberg was tasked with getting the final three outs. It didn’t get any easier after the leadoff hitter walked.
“Oh my gosh, my heart was beating so fast,” Danberg said. “I just had to be confident out there. Just throw strikes and get the job done. It was crazy.”
Danberg got a groundout, then a strikeout. The game ended on a groundout that sent the Knights sprinting out of their dugout and into a dogpile near first base.
As a group, King’s Way then hoisted aloft the state championship trophy — one the will hold a special place no matter how many titles the school wins in the future.
The King’s Way Christian team was comprised of five players who attend Seton Catholic — Meriwether, Parker, Wellman, Eric Netzel and Dylan Monahan.
Written by Micah Rice, The Columbian, May 28, 2017