By Frank Foreman
Lakeview’s Derek Slater could do no wrong Wednesday afternoon.
From a big day at the plate to a dominating start on the bump, Slater made sure the outcome was never in doubt as he led the Sailors to an 11-0 road win in six innings over Jamestown in a Region 1 tilt.
Slater finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs at the dish, but his biggest impact on the game came on the mound, where the junior allowed just one hit over six innings while striking out 13 Muskies.
Oh, and he picked off one of the three Jamestown batters to reach base in the game for the final out.
It’s becoming clear why Lakeview is putting together one of its best seasons in recent memory.
“I’m very pleased,” Lakeview manager Bill Beith said. “We’ve only won six games each in the last two seasons. This was our eighth victory already out of nine games. The guys have been working hard.”
On Wednesday, Slater was working the hardest, mixing big breaking balls with stellar control on the outside of the plate to keep the Muskies out of sync throughout the game.
“Logan (Snyder) was giving me curveballs at the right time, and I agreed with him so I threw them,” Slater said. “My outside pitches were working, and that was my strong point.”
While Slater had his stuff working, having Snyder, an all-state catcher behind the plate, makes his life just a little easier on the hill.
“Logan and I are good friends, so we know each other,” Slater said. “I talk to him before the game to make sure we’re on the same page, and we always talk about what we’re doing.”
The Sailors jumped out of the gates with a two-run first inning when Slater helped his own cause with a two-RBI single to score Snyder and Keith Kepner to make it 2-0.
A sacrifice fly in the top of the second off the bat of Jake Heim made it 3-0 before the Sailors busted the game wide open with a five-run third off Jamestown starter Garrett Morgan.
After the leadoff man struck out, five-straight hits started the big rally, ending with a two-RBI double by No. 8 hitter Jake Doddo to push the Sailor lead to 8-0.
“We’ve been very balanced,” Beith said. “The bottom of our order has been doing very well.”
Lakeview capped off its scoring in the top of the sixth with three more runs, putting an already one-sided affair out of reach from Jamestown.
Beith, managing in his 16th season for the Sailors, has watched his program struggle in recent seasons. That’s a far cry from what the Sailors are doing in 2014, as Lakeview has its sights set on a Region 1 title, which would be a first for the Sailors under Beith.
“We’re trying to get to that next level,” Beith said. “Since I’ve been coaching, we’ve never won a region championship before, so It’s something we’ve set our goal for.”
The win puts Lakeview one step closer, as the Sailors are now 8-1 overall and more importantly 4-0 in Region 1.
Slater was the star on Wednesday, and had plenty of help at the plate as four Sailors finished with multi-hit games. Doddo went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, Steven Kokoski finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Jared Coulter had a 2-for-4 day with two RBIs.
Jamestown’s lone hit was supplied by Morgan in the bottom of the second. The Muskies drop to 1-6 overall and 1-3 in Region 1 with the loss.
With plenty of work still ahead of Lakeview, Slater said his team has plenty of areas to improve upon. While that may be the case, the junior is also taking in what is shaping up to be a special season for the Sailors.
“I’m ecstatic with where we’re at. We’re doing great,” Slater said. “We have people calling who used to play for Lakeview baseball talking to us about our season because they didn’t think we were doing as well from what they heard. We’re doing great this season.”