Titans edge past Bulldogs

Lane to advance in NWAC playoffs

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Noah Noteboom / The Torch
A perfect throw from right fielder Tielar Murray helped catcher Thomas Rudinsky tag a Bellevue base runner out at home plate. Rudinsky recorded seven hits in the three-game series against Bellevue.

The Lane Titans opened the 2018 NWAC playoffs Saturday, May 19, in the afternoon with a home matchup against the Bellevue Bulldogs, who finished third in the Northern Region. These two teams played each other earlier in the season, with Lane taking all four games in the series against the Bulldogs.

Freshman pitcher Donovan Baldocchi started on the mound for the Titans. The Bulldogs got off to a quick start, hitting a home run in the first inning to take an early 2-0 lead. But Baldocchi remained unshaken, going on to strike out five batters.

Noah Noteboom / The Torch
Freshman pitcher Riley Howard stays focused on the strike zone in an 8-3 victory on Saturday, May 19 at Titan Field. Howard struck out three batters in just over one inning of action.

In the bottom of the second inning, Jayden Hanna came to bat with the bases loaded. He hit a double to deep center field driving in all three runners on base as Lane retook the lead 3-2. Hanna recorded three hits for the Titans.

Despite giving up two early runs, the Lane defense held the Bulldogs to just one run after the second inning. The Titans managed to stretch their lead to 8-3 in the bottom of the eighth and went home with the first victory of their young playoff lives.

The two teams played again Sunday, May 20, to determine if the Titans would advance, or if the Bulldogs would force a decisive game three.

The Titans struggled to score early. Bellevue, on the other hand, jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third.

The Titans were never able to tie the game, as the Bulldogs stayed one run ahead the whole game. The Bulldogs outlasted the Titans, 5-4. Another failed comeback meant that the Titans were fighting for their playoff lives later that day.

Noah Noteboom / The Torch
Matt Augilar picks off a Bellevue base runner en route to a 8-3 win at Titan Field on May 19. The freshman shortstop is batting .216 this season with 22 total hits.

In the third and final game to decide who would advance to the NWAC baseball tournament, the Titans recorded a postseason high 16 hits. Unable to match Lane’s hit total, Bellevue was sent home in a 7-3 loss. The Titans narrowly avoided an early playoff exit.

The Titans will play the number one seed in the East Region and NWAC leader in hits Yakima Valley on Thursday, May 24 at 9:35 a.m. The game will be played at David Story Field in Longview, Washington. All games from this point are single elimination.