Down one run with just three outs to play. Winner goes on, loser goes home. It’s what every little kid dreams about, to come up with the game winning hit to send your team to the playoffs.
Ethan Yeo doesn’t have to dream it anymore. He has lived it.
Inglemoor High’s sophomore cleanup hitter came up with a game-winning hit that bounced between the left fielder and the foul line to score two runs for the 6-5 come-from-behind victory against Eastlake High on Friday in a one-game playoff for the sixth and final spot in the 4A Kingco baseball tournament.
“I can’t describe it,” Yeo said with a huge smile. “It feels amazing.”
Inglemoor played the first round of the playoffs on Monday, after the Reporter’s deadline against Juanita in a loser-out contest. Had the Vikings won that game, they would have played Tuesday against Bothell in a winner-to-state game.
The fact that the Vikings even made the playoffs showed grit and determination. Inglemoor went into the final day of the regular season knowing it either needed a Viking win or an Eastlake loss for the season to continue. Despite Yeo’s three-run home run in the seventh inning, Inglemoor lost a heartbreaker, 7-5, to Lake Washington in a near three-hour marathon.
But about halfway through the game, the announcer read on the intercom that Redmond had defeated Eastlake, causing a one-game playoff for the final spot.
That spot appeared to be Eastlake’s, as the Wolves led the entire way until Yeo’s drive down the left-field line.
Inglemoor trailed 5-1 in the game, but senior Kurt Wagner entered in relief and shut Eastlake down. Wagner ended up with 3.2 innings pitched, allowing zero runs.
“Especially at the beginning there, they hit me pretty hard and I got some lucky plays,” Wagner said. “But as I got going, it was more adrenaline than anything else. I think towards the end, my stuff got better.”
Inglemoor got back into the game when Jeff Johnson hit a two-run home run over the left-field fence in the fourth inning. The Vikings were down 5-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh when Wagner, who hadn’t swung a bat in at least five games, sparked the Vikings’ offense with a leadoff single, eventually scoring the tying run on Yeo’s hit.
The close win, pull-it-out-at-the-end nature of the baseball team might remind Inglemoor fans of the football season just a few months ago. Wagner and A.J. Morrow, the team’s first baseman and pitcher, shared quarterback duties on the football team that went 6-4 in the regular season, but found its way to state and even went to the quarterfinals.
“Definitely,” Wagner said of similarities between the football and baseball season. “A lot of the core baseball guys are football players, and we are just good friends. Been playing together the last three years, so I definitely think that carries over and that experience in football season is paying off.”
First-year baseball head coach Bryan McNaughten, who was an assistant coach on that football team, agreed that there is a correlation between the baseball and football teams. McNaughten has repeated several times that this group of students has been a special breed. That certainly seemed to be the case on Friday, as Inglemoor punched its ticket into the playoffs, courtesy of a game-winning drive by Yeo.
“That one right there is Mr. Team Guy,” McNaughten said, pointing to Yeo. “All year, he’s been, ‘Whatever you want, coach.’ He’s been in that spot (cleanup) for a week now.”
On Friday, it certainly paid dividends.
“If you could watch a better game than that, I don’t know,” McNaughten said.