Federal Way Eagles baseball topples the Rams, advances to state

Federal Way is back in the state tournament for the first time since 2019

The Federal Way Eagles baseball team is in the WIAA State tournament after a 5-2 win over the Rogers Rams on May 13.

It’s been three years since Federal Way has been to the state tournament. This year the team got there in a different way than in years past. “It certainly feels gratifying for us to do this against a lot of odds,” Head Coach Ron Sherwin said.

After taking a 6-0 loss to Olympia to open up the playoffs the Eagles weren’t in a must-win scenario but with the threat of a doubleheader with a loss to Rogers, the Eagles didn’t want to take any chances.

Federal Way got on the scoreboard first with a double from Jay O’Neill to lead off the game, who scored on a Rogers error. O’Neill had three hits in the win for the Eagles, which helped jump-start Federal Way’s bats.

“It felt good to get off to a good start, it gave us a lot of momentum,” O’Neill said.

“He has a tenacious approach. He’s aggressive and is not going to let someone beat him … He’s a guy who comes back to the dugout and says ‘You didn’t beat me, I beat myself. Next time I’m going to beat you’ mentality,” Sherwin said.

Austin Crawford started on the mound for the Eagles, his strong 2023 campaign continued as he worked five innings allowing two hits, one earned run and struck out two. The sixth inning was a turning point for the Eagle offense and after a tough sixth inning on the mound, Orlando Young found himself in the middle of the rally.

“You just have to keep your composure. The past is the past. If something goes wrong it goes wrong, all I can do is build myself up from that moment,” Young said.

After a one-out walk to Crawford, Young smashed a ball to the base of the center field fence scoring Crawford and breaking the 2-2 tie making it 3-2. This started a string of four hits for the Eagles and Luke Koenig scored Young with a single to right field. O’Neill made it 5-2 with a single of his own, scoring Ethan Lankford from second.

Young went out and pitched a scoreless seventh and threw the final pitch in the Eagles’ win. “When you get those three outs (to end the game) you know you’re doing something right. Keep the emotions at a minimum and stay humble,” Young said.

The five runs were the most runs the Eagles have scored in the district tournament. Getting the bats going at a key point in the season is more important than many of these players know. “It was really gratifying to see the kids come through. It certainly builds our confidence going into the state tournament,“ Sherwin said.

Back in 2019, the Eagles won its opening round match-up against Central Valley but lost in the second round to Olympia 8-0. For this team to make a run, focus is on the little things. “ “If we play a little cleaner baseball and keep the bats going. We got great pitching that will keep us going,” O’Neill said.

His coach offered the same thoughts. “The biggest thing we need to do is play cleaner defense and take advantage of our opportunities,” Sherwin said.

Federal Way takes on Jackson High School at Heritage Park with the first pitch at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 20.