Eagles’ baseball shuts out undefeated Kennedy Catholic

Austin Crawford strikes out 10 players for the 9-0 win.

On a day after a rain out against the Kennedy Catholic Lancers, the Federal Way Eagles baseball team had the challenge of facing one of two undefeated teams in the North Puget Sound League.

The Eagles took down the Lancers with authority winning 9-0 and were 90 feet away from a mercy rule in the sixth inning. Federal Way has now won eight games in a row dating back to March 23.

“We had a ‘respect all, fear none’ mentality mindset. We know we can compete with anyone in the state,” said starting pitcher Austin Crawford.

Head Coach Ron Sherwin saw this is a statement win. “It’s a testament to what we do best. We pitch,” he said. “I think that we have two of the best arms in the state. I’ll run them out there against anybody.”

Taking the mound for the Eagles wassenior Austin Crawford, a Tacoma Community College commit. He gave a spectacular performance against a team that had averaged 15 runs per game and scored 41 runs against Todd Beamer in a single game this season.

Crawford threw six effective innings against Kennedy, he totaled 80 pitches in the ball game and 55 were strikes (69%). Throughout his six innings of work, he struck out 10 players, allowed three hits and didn’t walk a batter.

He got in a groove with a little help from his teammate. “It comes from my catcher, we just get in a really good rhythm. I’ve been working with him for a long time… I also work on all my pitches. I just make sure everything feels good,” Crawford said.

This season, Crawford has struck out a total of 28 batters over his four starts. He is striking out hitters at a 31% clip and averages 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings. That number, if added to MLB players, puts him ninth overall. He’s above Shohei Ohtani of the Angels (11.37) and below Logan Webb (11.64) of the Giants. Not to mention, Crawford’s ERA is 2.05 which is excellent over 22 innings of work this season.

“It feels good to be in the outfield when he’s up there. One, two, three, boom back in the dugout,” said Nate Peterson on his starting pitcher.

The offense was slow to get going against the Lancers but the Eagles were able to strike early in the ball game. Two-sport athlete Isaiah Afework drew a walk and stole second base. Nate Peterson then got just enough of the pitch to hit a single barely getting through the infield and Afework was able to come around and score. Peterson would also steal second, he came around to score on an error by the Lancers and Federal Way had an early 2-0 lead.

“It felt great … We got guys on base and brought them in, that’s what we did, “said Peterson.

Federal Way wouldn’t record another base hit until the bottom of the fifth when another two-sport athlete Jay O’Neill slapped a single into the opposite field.

It was important for the Eagle hitters to continue to have tough at-bats against Lancer pitching even if they weren’t seeing the results. “We talk a lot about controlling the at-bat… If we control the at-bat we feel like we are going to have an opportunity to cash in on those,” Coach Sherwin said.

This led to a rally for the Eagles as they would load the bases with no outs. Ethan Lankford was hit by a pitch before O’Neill and came around to score on a wild pitch. The next Eagle run scored on an RBI walk from Orlando Young. Federal Way had a commanding lead over Kennedy up 4-0.

In the sixth Federal Way poured it on, scoring five runs in the inning. With one out in the inning, Lankford drew another walk, O’Neill reached on a tough fly ball that was dropped and called an error and Afework drew a walk while the Eagles had bases loaded once more. This time Peterson smoked a base hit into left field scoring Lankford and O’Neill. Two batters later, Young drove in two of his own with another single.

The final run came across on a Crawford triple into deep left center, something that he needed at the plate. “I’ve been struggling with the bat a little this season, but I am staying confident and my teammates are keeping me up. My job first and foremost was to pitch today but it was nice to catch a barrel for sure,” he said.

In the top of the seventh, University of Washington commit Orlando Young sat down the Lancers in order. Striking out the last hitter with a 88 MPH fastball.

“He might be the best starter in his class in the entire state. We’re really fortunate to have him,” Sherwin said.

The Eagles are in arguably their toughest stretch of the season with Kennedy, Kentwood and Tahoma all on the docket in the near future. But regardless of who they play this team continues to groove.

“We just have to play at our peak, the whole team believes no one can really hang with us when we’re at our peak… All we got to do is execute,” Peterson said.

Federal Way takes on Kentwood April 13-14 and takes on undefeated Tahoma April 17-18.

Nate Peterson, Joseph Krahner, Orlando Young time up the new Kennedy pitcher. Ben Ray / The Mirror

Nate Peterson, Joseph Krahner, Orlando Young time up the new Kennedy pitcher. Ben Ray / The Mirror