BELLINGHAM - Jacob Manson and the Sehome baseball team didn't get the hit called they wanted or thought they deserved. So all Manson did was get an even bigger hit.
Trailing by a run in the top of the seventh inning Monday, April 15, at city rival Bellingham, Manson took a curveball from Red Raiders reliever Alex check off his right arm. But as he was trotting to first base and Jake Albert was coming home with an apparent game-tying run, the home plate umpire ruled that Manson had moved into the pitch and sent everyone back.
Manson didn't let it get him down, though, as he responded four pitches later with a two-run double - his third hit of the game - and the Mariners went on to claim a 7-5 victory in a game that featured everything from a steady rain to sunshine and from a three-run comeback by Bellingham to Sehome's two-run comeback in the seventh.
The Mariners (11-3, 5-1 NWC) not only handed the Red Raiders (10-3, 5-1) their first Northwest Conference loss of the season and ended the Bellingham's eight-game win streak, they also moved into a first-place tie atop the conference standings with their crosstown rivals and Lynden.
"I think that's an absolute definition of character," Sehome coach Gary Hatch said of Manson's at-bat. "When you know that that is a tying run and you just got clobbered, to be able to stand in there and have some bark on your skin to battle like that and get a big base hit and have three guys score on that play, that was such a big, big push for us. That was a real character statement on his part."
It was actually a pretty big gut check by the entire team, as Sehome entered the final frame in a two-run hole and their Nos. 6, 7 and 8 hitters due up.
"Before the inning even started, we had a little chat and decided we were going to win the game," Manson said.
Aaron Nichols took the first step towards that goal, when he drew a leadoff walk on five pitches to end starter Matt Richard's day after 117 pitches.
Check came on and got Brice Longanecker to ground out, but Forrest Longanecker and Jake Albert loaded the bases with back-to-back five-pitch walks.
Josh Zavisubin singled in Nichols to cut the Red Raiders' lead to 5-4, but Brant Wark sent a grounder to second baseman Dante Check, who slipped on the wet infield grass but still managed to field the ball and throw home to force out Forrest Longanecker for the second out of the inning.
That brought up Manson, who is in his first year since transferring from Hockinson. Check's first pitch caught him on the inside of his right arm, right above the elbow. Though Manson appeared to be trying to turn away from the pitch, it was ruled that he had moved into it, bringing a spirited argument from Hatch.
While everyone in Sehome's dugout was upset by the call, Manson didn't let it get to him.
"It was ball one," said Manson, who finished 3 for 4 with three RBI. "It wasn't that big of a deal. After he hit me with that curveball, I kind of figured he wasn't going to throw another one because it didn't really look like he had control of it. So I was looking fastball. I was sitting all fastball from then on."
Two foul offs and a ball later, Manson ripped a shot into right field that turned Bellingham's Oscar White around as he battled the bright sun and raced back. The ball ended up bouncing to the fence, allowing Albert and Zavisubin to score. Wark also scored on the play when Bellingham held the ball after getting it back in the infield.
"We knew going in to the seventh that they were going to take until they got a strike," Bellingham coach David Farrell said. "When we walked their 6, 8, 9 hitters, we gave them a chance. Sehome all day with two outs was able to put something together to score runs or put pressure on us. You give them opportunities like that in a clutch situation, more times like than not any team, not just Sehome, is going to come through."
It was Bellingham that came through earlier in the game, after Sehome jumped ahead 3-0 with two runs in the second and another in the third, after they forced Richard to use 29 pitches in each of the first two innings.
Though he allowed 11 hits and three walks through six-plus innings of work, Richard buckled down to limit Sehome to four runs, only three of which were earned.
"Matty competed," Farrell said. "He did not have his best stuff. He'll be the first one to tell you that. He battled. Later after those first couple of innings, he kept us in that ballgame. We were able to get a couple of runs, and he battled."
Aaron Burke, who went 3 for 4 with three RBI, got the rally started for the Red Raiders in the bottom of the third, with his bases-loaded single to center that brought home White and Ryan Fox. Richard followed with a ground out that scored Dante Check to tie the game at three.
Another single by Burke in the fifth allowed him to score on Austin Shenton's rocket to right field and gave Bellingham its first lead of the game, before Burke doubled in White in the sixth to give the Red Raiders the two-run lead heading to the seventh.
But the Red Raiders didn't have another comeback in them in the bottom of the seventh. Dan Goebel made a nice leaping catch in center field on Shenton's leadoff liner, and though Alex Check drew a walk, Sehome starter Brice Longanecker was able to get the final two outs to close out his six-hitter.
"Brice wasn't himself," Hatch said. "He pitched. He's a bulldog, but he got the ball up a little bit and they whacked him a little bit. But he did a good job of battling through it."
Sehome did its share of whacking as Zavisubin, Wark, Tyler Knutsen, Dan Goebel and Albert all joined Manson with multi-hit games.
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
SEHOME 7, BELLINGHAM 5
Sehome 021 000 4 - 7 13 2
Bellingham 003 011 0 - 5 6 1
WP: Brice Longanecker. LP: Alex Check. Highlights: Sehome: Josh Zavisubin 2-5, 2 R, 2 RBI; Brant Wark 2-5, R, RBI, Jake Manson 3-4, 2 RBI, 2B; Tyler Knutsen 2-4, Dan Goebel 2-4, R, 2B; Jake Albert 2-3, R. Bellingham: Aaron Burk 3-4, R, 3 RBI, 2B, Alex Check 1-3, 2B, Oscar White 1-1, 2 R, 2B.