The first time Lakewood and Millikan met at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field this season, it was a bad day for the Lancers. Their ten-run loss was one of the biggest league defeats in 30+ years, and it stuck in the craw of the program’s players and coaches, all of whom are aware of Lakewood’s proud history on the diamond. That frustration was the catalyst for a turnaround, one that resulted in the opposite result on Friday–a 6-0 Lancers defeat of the Rams.
“Our practices were awful, we had no team unity,” said Lakewood coach Spud O’Neill. “We didn’t know how to play as a team–everything has changed.”
The Lancers struggled with some of the old-school grit that had defined their program over the years, but on Friday they were bunting, double-stealing, and sac-flying their way to victory.
“We knew we had to get redemption,” said senior Kevin Kolb, who had four RBIs in the win. “It was one of the worst losses in Lakewood history. We all came together to figure out how to fix it.”
It certainly helped that pitcher Ricky Tiedemann was sharp on the mound, going six-plus shutout innings, scattering five hits, striking out four and walking only one.
“Ricky was awesome today,” said O’Neill. “He’s putting it together the last few weeks, his mechanics are better.”
Lakewood hopped on the Rams early, after back-to-back walks to start the first inning. Devon Semper then bunted the runners into scoring position, which led to Millikan intentionally walking Tiedemann to load the bases with one out. Millikan starting pitcher Tyler Conant struck out the next batter, bringing up Kolb with two outs. He hit a shot to left field that emptied the bases and gave the Lancers a commanding 3-0 lead.
“I’m just thinking, I’ve got to drive them in, I have to find a way,” said Kolb. He would add a fourth on a sac fly in the bottom of the third that scored Semper. Wyatt Coats’ sac fly in the bottom of the sixth scored Kolb, just a few minutes after a double steal call resulted in Jakob Lemiux sliding in home under a tag. In other words: it was a Lakewood kind of game.
“We’ve felt like we have the top team in the league, we just weren’t playing like it,” said Tiedemann. “We’re turning it up at the right time.”
For Millikan, it was a frustrating game that left more questions than answers. Ace pitcher Julian Aguiar, a Long Beach State commit, has been unavailable the last two weeks due to an administrative suspension, according to the team. They expect to learn next week whether he can rejoin the team or not.
“We made a few mistakes and they capitalized,” said Millikan coach Ron Keester. “Tyler walked the guys in the first inning but he settled in after that. We didn’t hit the ball–the last few weeks there’s just been one bad inning that we’ve got to get taken care of.”
With Friday’s results, Poly is in first place with one league loss, followed by Lakewood/Wilson with two losses, and Millikan drops to fourth with three losses. That leaves things very much up in the air with two full weeks remaining. All possibilities are on the table including a four-way league championship where every team has three losses.
Remaining Games Among Top Four Teams
4/12: Lakewood @ Wilson, Millikan @ Poly
4/18: Wilson @ Millikan, Lakewood @ Poly