The Hazen Highlanders baseball team fell to the Newport Knights, 5-3, in the final game of the T-Mobile Park High School Classic on March 18.
“Playing here is crazy. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s a way different environment than I’m used to,” junior Isaac Lee said. “It felt good to help the team. Just wish we came out with a win.”
Hazen head coach Justin Seiber said the team showed improvement over last year.
“We were here last year, didn’t play very well. The environment kind of got to us. But this year I told the guys they responded much better this year … We came out with a much better effort and better focus and handled their nerves better,” Seiber said. “It was a competitive game, but I know we’re heading in the right direction.”
In the top of the first against Newport, Sam Nicholson started on the mound for the Highlanders. Over his one inning of work, he allowed just a single base runner and struck out one. Hazen also was sat down without threatening the Knights in the first.
The first runs of the game came in the second. Newport took the lead without recording a base hit. The Knights reached base five batters in a row, scoring on a bases loaded walk. Junior Isaac Lee entered in relief in the second with two outs, and he needed just a single pitch to end the inning for the Highlanders.
Following his one pitch inning, Lee led off the bottom of the second with a double and Hazen’s first hit of the game. Two batters later, junior first baseman Kyle Tat drove in Lee with a single to right field, tying the game 1-1. Hazen got a little cheeky scoring their second run of the inning. A single from Riley Ottele moved Tat to third. Ottlele stole second base and simultaneously Tat stole home, giving the Highlanders a 2-1 lead.
Newport responded with two runs of their own in the top of the third. After Lee hit a batter and walked the next, the Knights hit a bases clearing double, taking the lead 3-2.
In the fifth, the Knights threatened the Highlanders once more after back to back singles and a walk that loaded the bases. Lee struck out the next batter and then induced an inning ending double play, keeping the Highlanders in the game.
During Hazen’s first half of the sixth, Marcus McCarthy reached base on a one out single. McCarthy got into scoring position by stealing second base. Isaac Lee drove in McCarthy with a two strike single into left field, tying the game at 3-3.
Newport was able to take the lead in the top of the seventh. The Knights hit three one-out singles in a row to score the go ahead run, 4-3. The next run came around to score with two outs on an error, extending Newport’s lead to 5-3.
Hazen’s leadoff batter was hit by a pitch, but the next three batters failed to reach base.
“We were really really young last season. The experience gained from last season and even early in this season will help us. I’ve already seen improvement. I know we’re a more talented team than last year,” Seiber said.
Hazen had gotten out to a 2-0 record to start the 2023 season, taking down Moses Lake and Eisenhower to open up their season. Last season, the Highlanders took the lowest seed in the KingCo tournament and fell to Liberty 4-1. But this year’s team brings the experience and confidence to go further than last year’s team.
“We want to play the best. We want to challenge our guys because we feel like we play in the best 3A league there is. We’re not going to challenge ourselves if we’re not playing against what we think is great competition,” said Seiber.