The562’s high school baseball and softball coverage for the 2022 season is sponsored by LBUSD Board of Education Member Megan Kerr.
Anthony Eyanson put his team on his back Wednesday night and led Lakewood to a 2-0 win over Long Beach Poly on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.
The Lancers (7-8, 2-1) lost their first big Moore League game against Millikan last week after the Rams went on a late rally, so they needed the win badly.
“After losing (to Millikan) at the end, we just wanted to finish this game out,” Eyanson said. “We all had a chip on our shoulder for this game. We were all excited to play today.”
Eyanson was fantastic on the mound where he pitched the complete-game shutout. The senior gave up three hits, a walk and a hit by pitch while striking out seven. Eyanson also came around to score the first run of the game on an error in the fourth inning.
“You should see him at practice,” Lakewood coach Spud O’Neil said of his ace Eyanson. “He runs everywhere, he picks stuff up, does this and does that… He’s just a good person and a great leader. He doesn’t let (his teammates) get away with stuff. He’s a competitor but he’s also one of the guys.”
Poly (8-4, 2-1) had plenty of chances to get on the scoreboard but stranded a runner in all but one inning. The Jackrabbits ground into a game-changing double play in the third inning after the leadoff man reached on an error. They also left runners in scoring position in the sixth and seventh innings.
“The team that executed the best tonight won the game, like on the rundowns, so the better team won,” Poly coach Brent Lavoie said. “Lakewood found a way to put two unconventional runs on the board. We got out-chess-matched tonight.”
Poly starter Ryan Skjonsby went toe-to-toe with Eyanson and pitched into the seventh inning. He gave up five hits and struck out five. No players had more than one hit on the day.
Lakewood took the lead in the fourth when Eyanson led off with an infield single. He stole second base, and then came around to score on a two-out throwing error by Poly.
The Lancers doubled their lead in the fifth when Joey Gann led off with a single, moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt and a fielder's choice, and then scored when Poly tried to pick off Kane Yonamine at first base. Gann perfectly timed his slide into home while the Jackrabbits chased Yonamine.
Poly had a chance to even the score in the bottom of the fourth when it had runners on the corners with one out. The Jackrabbits also got caught in a rundown, but the runner was cut down at home on a good throw by Nohea Mapu and tag by Yonamine at the plate.
“It was a pretty good feeling and this is big,” O’Neil said. “Every game counts. It’s great to beat the defending league champions.”
Eyanson was able to limit the Poly chances late by getting more first-pitch strikes with his breaking ball.
“I feel like my breaking ball got better as the game got longer,” Eyanson said. “It’s one of my go-to pitches. So if it's effective I feel like I’m effective as well.”
“He filled up the strike zone and came at hitters,” Lavoie said. “His breaking pitch was a little bit better than I’ve seen in the past. He was able to keep guys off balance.”
This was the first marquee league double header on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field in years because of COVID, and that fact wasn’t lost on the coaches or players.
“It feels great,” Eyanson said of getting back to the big park. “I remember coming here when I was 11 and 12 watching the great players who are in college and MLB now. It’s just a great feeling to be able to play against the same teams I used to watch when I was younger.”
The next marquee Moore League doubleheader on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field is Wednesday. Poly will take on Millikan before Lakewood faces Wilson.