Opposing teams don’t usually appear to have much fun when visiting Spud O’Neil Baseball Field at Lakewood High. After all, there’s a reason the field’s namesake has over 900 career wins and counting. But despite a 2-0 first-inning deficit, Long Beach Poly (14-3, 4-0) never looked rattled, and even played some “Lakewood Baseball” to secure an impressive 8-4 win over the Lancers (11-8, 3-1) on Wednesday afternoon.
After a quiet showing against Lakewood starter Anthony Eyanson the first time through the lineup, Poly exploded for eight runs in the fourth inning to directly fuel their victory. It was bookended by junior Ryan Skjonsby, who started the inning with a bloop double into right center, and ended the inning with a thunderous inside-the-park home run to dead center field.
“I got in the box and (Andrew) Clavel, the hitter before me, told me the pitcher was up (in the zone),” Skjonsby explained. “I saw the first two pitches he missed up a little bit. I was just trying to be on time and look for something up and I got the pitch and I just swung and hit barrel.
“I was kinda celebrating around first already, then I kinda blurred out… I was just excited to put up runs and help my team, because I was trying to get the guys’ energy up when we were down 2-0, telling them we’re not out of it. Props to Elias (Torres) for not giving up after that first inning. He came back and stopped the bleeding and got consecutive zeros, so props to him for that.”
Torres had been lights out in Poly’s 1-0 win over Millikan last week, but Lakewood jumped on him right out of the gate with four hits in the opening frame. Blake Jones started the bottom of the first with a triple before a Nohea Mapu single brought him home. Then later in the inning, Eyanson would score on an RBI double from Jared Stephenson to make it 2-0 Lakewood.
Edgar Rosales followed up Skjonsby’s leadoff double in the fourth with a two-bagger of his own. He then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt fielder’s choice, which saw the Lancers unsuccessfully try to get the lead runner on a tag play at third. After a squeeze bunt, the Jackrabbits drew three consecutive walks from their 7-8-9 batters to add another run and go up 3-2 with just one out.
Leadoff man Troy Criss kept the line moving with an RBI single through the right side, then the Jackrabbits brought in two more runs on a wild pitch and an errant pickoff throw to third. That left one runner on base for Skjonsby’s two-run homer, giving Poly a sudden 8-2 advantage.
“At that point, we just had to play some Lakewood baseball, right?,” joked Lavoie. “Get them on base, move around, get some action going, throw some verbals out there. I’ve watched Spud over the years, so yeah, I’m starting to pick up on a tip or two.”
After Poly’s eight-run outburst, Lakewood pulled a run back thanks to four walks in the bottom of the fourth. The final free pass was handed out by Skjonsby, who came on in relief of Torres with two outs and the bases loaded. He was able to escape the damage with just one run allowed, and threw two scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth.
The Jackrabbits were terrific defensively, with a great diving catch from Diego Falencik in right and a barehanded play by Rosales at third as the standout efforts. Poly was also well-positioned to take a number of hits away from Lakewood on hard-hit balls. The Lancers also left eight men on base in the ballgame.
Lakewood did put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh, but only pulled one run back on Stephenson’s RBI single to score Diego Gutierrez.
Skjonsby reached base in all four trips to the plate, finishing 2/2 with a pair of runs scored, two RBIs, a double and a home run. He also pitched the 2.1 scoreless innings of relief. Sebastian Lebario collected Poly’s first base hit in the third, scored a run, and added an RBI on a bases-loaded walk in the fourth.
Lakewood will host Jordan in their next Moore League contest on Friday, doing the honors of bringing Moore League Baseball back to Bohl Diamond at Blair Field. Poly will host Wilson in its next league contest next Wednesday.