Matthew Ledbetter leads off the game in the first inning at Sherman Anderson Field. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Matthew Ledbetter leads off the game in the first inning at Sherman Anderson Field. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kentlake baseball eliminated in Mount Vernon

Falcons fall 9-3 to third-seeded Bulldogs.

After making the state tournament for the first time since 2018, and winning a game at state for the first time since 2017, the Kentlake Falcons’ season came to a close in a 9-3 loss to Mount Vernon on May 18.

Kentlake knew they were going to have their hands full against the third-seeded Bulldogs and a top-five recruit in the country on the mound for Mount Vernon in Xavier Neyens.

The game was much closer than the final score would suggest — up until the sixth inning, the game was within reach for the Falcons. But an unfortunate and unlucky inning saw the Bulldogs cruise to a quarterfinal appearance.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity to play. Not everybody gets a chance to go to state, much less play baseball. I’m grateful to create friendships for life,” Kentlake’s Ethan Loughry said.

Kentlake sent out Loghry to battle the Bulldogs, and it was an odd outing for the lefty pitcher. He didn’t get hit around, but just was a bit off. He went five innings, allowing five runs on four hits with two earned runs and five strikeouts.

“It didn’t seem like they were banging the ball around. But he was competing his butt off, threw strikes and handled pressure. For the most part he worked really hard on missing barrels,” coach Mike Suguro said.

Loghry didn’t walk anyone, but hit four Bulldog batters. Three of the four hit by pitches came around to score, and two of them were hit with two strikes.

“I didn’t pitch my best game. But my focus sharpens a little bit more against those tougher teams,” Loghry said.

The first runs came in the second inning for Mount Vernon. The first two batters reached base and on a sacrifice bunt, Loghry airmailed the first baseman and both runs came around to score. The very next batter dropped a bunt down for a safety-squeeze, for their third run.

Heading into the fourth, Kentlake offensively had been putting together good at-bats but not finding much as a result. That all changed when Devin Tep got his second at-bat against Neyens.

“We made sure to get their eyes ready to seeing upper echelon velocity... I was super proud with the way they had their at-bats and competed...It was tough to gauge what it would look like. I’m super proud,” Suguro said.

With one out and two on, Tep punched a single through the four hole for his second hit of the morning. Loughry scored without a throw, but on the throw in from the outfield, the ball sailed over the head of the third baseman, allowing Juan Hernandez’s run to score as well.

Tep later came around to score on a sacrifice bunt to cut the lead to one. Kentlake had found its way back into the game, trailing 4-3.

The turning point of this game was a sixth inning that could haunt the Falcons in the near future. Reliable Gavin Liechty came out of the bullpen in the sixth, and on his third pitch, was hit with a line drive on what looked like his right elbow.

He would be removed from the game and the wheels then fell off the bus. Josh Manaois was put in an incredibly tough, hostile environment, trying to keep the game at 5-3. But he couldn’t find the zone.

He hit the first batter he faced, walked the next, hit the next batter and walked the following before being replaced by Devin Tep. Tep went on to finish the inning and two runs scored on an error and sacrifice fly, giving Mount Vernon their 9-3 lead.

“Tep goes out there and fills up the zone. He’s got some pretty gross stuff, he goes and attacks hitters,” Suguro said.

Kentlake only graduated three players from this current squad (Loghry, Leichty and Williamson) who have laid the foundation for the future of Kentlake baseball.

“They came in my first year and getting them to buy in and know that they were going to be the core of this team was huge,” Suguro said.

“It didn’t end the way we wanted. But it was nice to make the state tournament and win one game. That was a pretty special thing to do with friends,” Loghry said.

Apart from those three players, the Falcons have a group that can carry the Falcons once more with players like Christopher Moore, Juan Hernandez and Tep.

“I’m just happy I played a part in influencing the younger kids. I wanted to be a role model for them... I wanted to be an example for them to just be loose, have some fun and just play baseball,” Loughry said.

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Ethan Loghry on the mound for Kentlake. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Ethan Loghry on the mound for Kentlake. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kentlake’s infield meets during a pitching change. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kentlake’s infield meets during a pitching change. Ben Ray / The Reporter

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