The562’s high school baseball and softball coverage for the 2022 season is sponsored by LBUSD Board of Education Member Megan Kerr.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
After Millikan’s win over Poly earlier in the day, Lakewood and Wilson knew they were playing for second place at the midway point of the Moore League baseball season. Thanks to senior Anthony Eyanson, it was the Lancers (11-8, 5-1) who seized their opportunity with an emphatic 8-0 win over the Bruins (11-7, 4-2) in the nightcap of Wednesday’s doubleheader on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.
Eyanson was once again superb on the mound, racking up a dozen strikeouts during his complete game shutout, allowing just three singles and two walks. Both he and head coach Spud O’Neil agreed it’s the best he’s pitched this season, hitting a new gear at the perfect time for the Lancers.
“We’ve got one more pitch that he’s added to his collection of pitches, and it worked tonight,” said O’Neil. “It kept (Wilson) off guard and off balance … When (Eyanson)’s on the mound, we have a chance to win. Every time.”
That new pitch for Eyanson was best described as a splitter, but has some additional movement on it that was baffling the Bruins’ hitters all night. Eyanson really turned the screw on the Wilson lineup in the middle innings. From the end of the second frame to the start of the fifth, Eyanson struck out seven of the eight batters he faced, getting Wilson to chase a number of balls in the dirt.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that all your pitches are clicking when you’re on the mound,” said Eyanson, who is signed with UC San Diego. “And just knowing that you’re in control of the game is a great feeling as a pitcher, because it gives you confidence for your team to hit.”
Eyanson also did his thing offensively, going 2/4 with a pair of runs and RBIs. He got the Lancers on the board in the top of the first inning as Lakewood was able to start hot against Wilson starter Charlie Royle. Eyanson’s two-run double in the first scored James Provencio and Kane Yonamine to give the Lancers a 2-0 lead after one. It turned out to be all the run support Eyanson would need, and it was a rare early breakthrough against one of the league’s best pitchers.
“Royle’s one of the better pitchers in the league and to get to him early, that was huge for us,” O’Neil said. “Royle doesn’t usually give up that many runs in the first inning, but we got it.”
The score stayed 2-0 until the fifth, when a leadoff single by Joey Gann ignited a textbook Lakewood rally. Leadoff man Nohea Mapu laid down a perfect sac bunt, then Provencio singled up the middle to score Gann and make it 3-0 Lancers.
Wilson then had its best chance to score in the bottom half of the fifth. An error, a single by Aaron Mingo, and a walk loaded the bases with two outs to put the tying run on base. Eyanson responded in style, getting a three-pitch strikeout to strand the bases loaded.
Then in the sixth, Lakewood put the game away thanks to some shaky defense from the Bruins. Wilson’s defense committed five errors in the sixth inning as Lakewood plated four runs. The big blow was a two-run single by Matthew Maines, scoring MJ Norquist and Jacob Elliott.
Lakewood added a run in the seventh on an RBI single from Elliott to bring home Eyanson for his second run scored on the evening.
The win leaves Lakewood a game back of first-place Millikan going into the second half of league play. The Rams and Lancers will play a key game next week to help shape the Moore League title picture.
“After seeing everybody, playing against Millikan and Wilson and all those guys, we’re just really excited to go out there and be able to play them again,” Eyanson said. “We’re still carrying over energy from the first Millikan game. We're using that as a great chip on our shoulder. It's really hit a lot of us–the seniors mainly–knowing that our last time playing Millikan could be next Friday. So we just want to play our best game and hope for the best.”
Before we get to that huge showdown on April 8, Lakewood will visit Cabrillo this Friday while Wilson will face Jordan in its next league game next Wednesday.