By Nick Shoemaker
The Islanders’ hopes at being number one in KingCo for two years in a row were squashed Thursday in a 5-0 shutout loss to the Mount Si Wildcats. Islander bats were silent and the team found no refuse in its usual stars. The top three batters for Mercer Island, who had succumbed to strike outs only 12 times in over 240 times to bat in previous games struck out a total of five times throughout the night. No less astounding was the performance of Wildcat pitcher Trevor Lane, who threw a complete game shutout and allowed only four base hits. Islander starting pitcher George Jiranek had a rare bad outing, having trouble finding the strike zone and leaving the game after only three innings. No pitching performance could outshine that of the Wildcats, however, and the 12-9 Islanders were ill-equipped to handle it.
The Islanders went nine up, nine down in their first three innings at
bat and did not collect a hit until the fifth. Struggling starter George Jiranek escaped two innings of play with the only damage being a single run. The problem came in the third when his control issues began to manifest themselves in the form of Wildcat runs. Down in the count against leadoff hitter Dustin Breshears (who had laced Jiranek’s second pitch of the game for a solo shot just two weeks prior), the senior hurler threw a high, inside fastball that would be driven to deep centerfield for a stand-up triple. Had the game been played at Mount Si’s home ball field, Breshears would not be stopping at third. Two more consecutive hits plated a trio of Mount Si runners, and the Islanders were down 4-0. Before any of them had batted for a second time.
Islander ERA-leader Hunter Goldberg replaced Jiranek on the bump after only three innings of play. When he left the mound heading into the fourth, he had thrown as many strikes as balls–a far cry from his usual 2:1 ratio. His early departure from the mound was probably influenced as much by the need for his arm in future matchups as it was from poor performance. His replacement Hunter Goldberg, who has given up only a single run as a reliever all year, had a much better outing, matching his year-to-date run yield and finishing the final three frames of the game. Goldberg’s most detrimental effort would actually come off of the hill, in the top of the fifth inning. Mercer Island had fielded two base runners off of back-to-back hits, and were threatening to make a dent in the four run deficit. With only the second ball put in play all year by the junior pitcher, Goldberg delivered a soft groundball to the Wildcat shortstop who promptly retired a pair of Islanders 6-4-3. It would be the second of three Mount Si double plays.
Mercer Island would advance a runner past second base for the first time in the entire game in the seventh inning. Southpaw Trevor Lane crested 100 pitches at the beginning of the Islanders’ final at-bat, and finished neatly at 104 after ringing up pinch hitter Isak Morris–his ninth victim. While the postseason loss at the hands of a team they had so narrowly succumbed to last time stung worse than usual, the team is looking towards the future. Said reliever Hunter Goldberg, “We can still get to state if we play to our potential.” Still, the junior admits the loss wasn’t easy to take, and summed it up best by saying “We played well, but [Trevor Lane] pitched an incredible ball game.” The four-hit gem was the twelfth notch in the Wildcat belt–still undefeated in league play. For the Islanders, it’s just another team that on a different field, a different time, or maybe on a different day they could have beaten. But today was Trevor Lane’s day, and there was nothing Goldberg or anyone else could do about it.
The team will face Sammamish on Saturday at 1:00 on the Bannerwood field in a loser out contest. If they win the first game, they play again at 4:00 against the loser of Mt. Si-Lake Washington in the KingCo title game Friday. If the team wins both, they take second place in KingCo and advance to play the four-seed from Metro.
• Islanders’ second baseman and hitting leader Matt Orehek missed his second straight playoff game due to illness. He is expected to be active on Saturday.
• Freshman Keegan Ogard has been added to the team’s playoff roster.