BELLINGHAM - With extra motivation provided by the sting of a basketball defeat at state, not to mention a sentimental attachment to baseball, Zach Vis seems determined to make the most of a fond farewell to the diamond.
If Vis' four scoreless innings pitched in Lynden's 5-1 non-league win over Sehome on Saturday, March 23, were any indication, he already seems in prime form to help extend his long good-bye to baseball into another bid for a state title.
In his second appearance on the mound this season, Vis, who has signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at the University of Montana, improved his scoreless innings streak to seven.
"With a heartbreak like that game (Lynden's upset loss to Anacortes in the Class 2A state basketball semifinals), we definitely have extra motivation in baseball," said Vis, referring also to catcher Josh Kraght and first baseman Matt Meyer, the top three batters in the order.
Lynden coach Cory White said his heart sunk when his boys lost in basketball, but he appreciates their serious approach when it comes to returning to the Class 2A title game this spring, a year after the loss to Archbishop Murphy in the title game to end a 22-5 season.
"I thought Zach threw really well," White said. "It's great to see him get back and get comfortable."
Sehome coach Gary Hatch can only hope his Mariners (5-2) can find a way to make any of the five senior pitchers for the Lions (4-0) uncomfortable in their league game April 22.
"That kid (Vis) is a great athlete," Hatch said. "And he seems to get tougher with men on base. He really bowed his neck with men in scoring position."
Indeed, Vis survived four Sehome hits and three walks, striking out the final two batters in both the third and fourth innings with men in scoring position after fanning the final hitter in the first inning with two runners on base.
But it was the end of the second inning that really inspired Vis.
Following a leadoff infield hit by Sehome's Daniel Goebel and a two-out walk to Brice Longanecker, leadoff hitter Josh Zavisubin singled sharply to right. But Alexsei Poventud - a junior who moved to Lynden this year from Puerto Rico - threw a perfect strike from right field to Kraght at home plate to end the inning.
"That was an awesome throw," Vis said. "We know he has an arm, and he proved it today. That play was huge for us. It really helped set the tone."
Vis, who said his off-speed stuff and two-seam fastball worked well, is in his first year as a regular starter on the mound but is also the returning shortstop, where he has always played.
"I'm really going to miss baseball," he said. "I know I will. I really miss soccer" - which he hasn't played since his pre-high school days.
Peter Bovenkamp, a senior up from the junior varsity, pitched two scoreless innings in relief and also figures to be a starter along with infielder Tanner Olson and Vis. Third baseman Hudson Gratton finished up, allowing Sehome's only run on a two-out RBI single by Cory Campbell.
Sehome starter Brant Wark looked solid, especially considering how potent Lynden's lineup is, while pitching scoreless ball with no walks over the first three innings. Center fielder Longanecker ended the third with a fine throw to third baseman Jacob Manson to retire a runner trying to advance on Kraght's flyout.
"After Brice pitched six innings yesterday, I don't know how he got anything on that throw," Hatch said. "That was a great play."
Lynden, however, wouldn't be denied. The Lions scored a pair of unearned runs off Wark in the fourth on an error, a fielder's choice, Olson's fence-rattling double and a two-out infield single by Gratton.
White was especially pleased to see the Lions respond with three two-out runs in the seventh. Shane Treloar began the rally with a walk, advanced on a steal and error and scored on Kraght's single. Then came a run-scoring hit from Vis and an RBI double by Meyer, who finished 3 for 4.
Manson, a senior transfer from Battle Ground, went 2 for 3 as Sehome's new No. 3 hitter.
Lynden will play Monday, March 25, at home against Anacortes in a non-league game. Sehome will meet Sedro-Woolley in a Northwest Conference opener on Friday, March 29.
LYNDEN 5, SEHOME 1
Lynden 000 200 3 - 5 8 1
Sehome 000 000 1 - 1 6 2
WP: Zach Vis (1-0). LP: Brant Wark. Highlights: Lynden: Matt Meyer 3-4, 2B, RBI; Josh Kraght 1-4, RBI; Zach Vis 1-4, RBI; Tanner Olson 1-3, 2B, RBI; Hudson Gratton 1-3, RBI; Lucas Petersen 1-2. Sehome: Josh Zavisubin 1-4; Brant Wark 1-4; Jake Manson 2-3; Cory Campbell 1-2, RBI; Daniel Goebel 1-3.