BELLINGHAM - Sehome senior Dan Goebel isn't used to batting anywhere near eighth in the lineup.
"As long as I can remember, I've usually been in the 3-4-5 hole," Goebel said.
Brice Longanecker probably isn't all that familiar with the 7 spot, either, but that's where they found themselves on Wednesday, April 3, for a non-conference matinee against old rival Burlington-Edison at Joe Martin Field.
"Usually those two guys hit a whole lot higher for us, but they've been struggling a little bit," Mariners coach Gary Hatch said of the decision. "We thought we'd drop them down a little bit so they could get a look at a few more pitches and see if we couldn't get them started."
That's exactly what the move did, as Goebel went 2 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI and Longanecker went 1 for 3 and scored a run to spark Sehome to a 4-2 victory.
When Goebel saw his name near the bottom of the Mariners' lineup card on Wednesday, he didn't take it as an insult - he instead chose to use it as a "wake-up call."
"When I saw it, I knew it was my job to put the ball in play," Goebel said. "I'm not used to being down there, but I know that's what those guys are supposed to do. It's your job just to get on base however you can, and that was all I focused on today."
Longanecker nearly did that in a big way in the second inning, sending a line drive to shallow right center field with two men aboard that seemed to have extra bases written on it until Hunter Jacobson tracked it down and fired home to nail Tyler Knutsen at home plate for an inning-ending double play.
Knutsen was ruled to have made too much contact with catcher Christian Lopez on the play and was ejected from the game and will have to serve a one-game suspension when Sehome (8-3) hosts Squalicum on Monday, April 8.
Even though the Mariners didn't get any runs in the inning and still trailed 2-0, the momentum had started to swing.
Goebel led off the bottom of the third and didn't waste any time bursting out of his slump.
"I knew I was going to get a fastball, because they don't throw a whole lot of curveballs to guys at the bottom of the lineup," Goebel said. "So I got a first-pitch fastball, and I just tried to put it in play, and I went with it to left field. It was a big hit for me. It was my first hit in a while."
It looked like it might be wasted, though, when Nic Metcalf retired the next two batters on four pitches, though Goebel was able to advance to second.
Brant Wark drew a two-out walk, before Jacob Manson blooped the first of his two singles down the right-field line to score Goebel. Wark also was able to score on the play, when Burlington threw the ball away while trying to catch Manson after he took a big turn at first base. Manson ended up advancing to third on the error.
That allowed a single from sophomore Jake Albert, who came on to replace Knutsen, to bring Manson home and give the Mariners a 3-2 lead.
Josh Zavisubin, who came on in the fourth to relieve Wark, made it stand, as he held Burlington scoreless on one hit and two hit batters while striking out two over the next three innings to pick up the win. Most impressive about his performance was the fact he threw 36 of his 54 pitches for strikes (66.7 percent).
"Zavi is a guy we were expecting big things from, but he's struggled a little bit early this year throwing strikes," Hatch said. "I think he did a real good job of spotting his fastball today. His curveball, I think you could see, was still a little bit up, but he got better as he went along. I think this was a real good outing for him, because he did throw strikes, and if he can continue to develop, he'll be a real strong No. 2 for us."
The bottom of the lineup gave the Mariners a little breathing room in the bottom of the sixth, when Longanecker led off with a line-drive single to center and Goebel singled to right field to give Sehome runners on the corners.
No. 9 hitter Cory Campbell laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt - his second of the game - along the left-field line just beyond where the grass started, allowing Longanecker to race home on the throw to first base.
"That's how it's been for us all year," Hatch said. "The bottom of the order has produced for us. Whoever we put down there has gotten the job done. I'm sure we'll look to move Dan and Brice back up, because those are two seniors you expect big things from. Ordinarily, you'd want those guys towards the top so they'll get more plate appearances. Zavi's been a guy that has done real well as our No. 1, and Brant Wark has done a good job up high, too. Hopefully we can get everybody going here soon."
Longanecker's insurance run proved valuable in the top of the seventh, when Burlington got two of its first three batters on base against closer Jeff Machuta. Machuta answered with a beautiful diving grab of a failed bunt attempt to retire Mason Schwetz.
"That was an exclusive play by Machuta," Hatch said. "That came at a big time, because they've got their 1-2-3 hitters coming up, and they're all dangerous. It was great to see him make a play like that."
Though Metcalf laced a single into left to load the bases one batter later, Machuta got Derek Wieringa to pop out to end the game and pick up the save.
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
SEHOME 4, BURLINGTON-EDISON 2
Burlington 110 000 0 - 2 6 2
Sehome 003 001 x - 4 7 1
WP: Josh Zavisubin. LP: Nic Metcalf. S: Jeff Machuta. Highlights: Sehome: Jake Manson 2-3, RBI, R; Davis Hampton 1-2, Brice Longanecker 1-3, R, Dan Goebel 2-3, R, Jake Albert 1-1, RBI.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.