ANACORTES - That may have been the defending state baseball champions in the other dugout, but Sehome's Josh Zavisubin wasn't intimidated.
"Zavi has been in the back of our plan for a whole year," Mariners coach Gary Hatch said. "Last week he started getting it all together. He showed a lot of guts and bark on his skin today against a really good team. Defending state champions and all that didn't seem to matter to him."
Unfortunately for Sehome, Zavisubin's guts and determination weren't quite enough to knock off Archbishop Murphy. It takes a couple of timely hits, as well.
Though Sehome got plenty of those on Saturday in a first-round win over Lake Washington, they just couldn't get them with the game on the line Tuesday, May 7, in a 3-2 loss to the Wildcats in the semifinals of the Class 2A District 1/2 Tournament at Daniels Field, despite holding Archbishop Murphy to only three hits.
With the loss, Sehome (16-6) drops into the consolation bracket and will face Granite Falls in an 11 a.m. elimination game Saturday, May 11. Should the Mariners win, they would then need to win a second elimination game on Saturday against the survivor of a showdown between Lynden and Lake Washington to earn third place in the district and return to the Class 2A State Playoffs after a one-year absence.
"It's going to be a doubleheader day, but you know in the regionals you've got to win two too to get to the Final Four," Hatch said.
Archbishop Murphy (20-2), which lost in the district semifinals last year, is just happy to avoid that mess on Saturday, especially in a year only three teams move on from the district, as it will instead play Sedro-Woolley at 2 p.m. for the district title.
"Winning this year and not having to go through the back door, especially with the three berths, is really refreshing and rewarding," ATM coach Stan Taloff said. "We felt this was the biggest game we've had all year to this point. Our guys came out and battled. Sehome will battle you right to the end. They are so well coached. They got guys that play with heart."
That heart looked like it might be enough early on.
Sehome grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Jacob Manson and Tyler Knutsen hit back-to-back doubles. Daniel Goebel reached on an error and stole second, but he and Knutsen were stranded in scoring position.
Even though it didn't turn into a big inning, it still gave Zavisubin the shot in the arm he needed to retire the first eight batters he saw. After he walked Matthew Buerger with two outs in the third, catcher Forrest Longanecker was able to end the inning by catching Buerger off first base on a pick off.
But the Wildcats finally got to Zavisubin in the fourth, when Casey Dawes picked up a one-out single and Alex Galgano followed with a walk, and both scored on Derrick Mahlum's single back up the middle.
Sehome responded in the bottom of the fifth, when Forrest Longanecker turned a leadoff walk into a run on a ground ball hit by Jake Albert to knot the score at 2.
"(Alexander Clouse) didn't have his best stuff today, but he gutted through it, and we got the hits we needed to help him out," Taloff said.
That big hit came in the form of a leadoff single from Dawes, who went 2 for 3. Camden Buchanan, Mahlum and Phillip Michael Feliciano did the rest by not moving the bats off their shoulders, as they drew three straight two-out walks to force in Dawes with what proved to be the winning run.
Sehome had a shot to tie it up in the seventh, when Zavisubin ripped a one-out double into right-center field, but Clouse responded by picking up his sixth and final strikeout of the day.
Taloff then visited him on the mound to discuss the potential final out.
"Basically that he needs to concentrate on every pitch and worry about the guy in front of him and not on anybody that is back behind," Taloff said of the conversation on the mound. "Those guys are going to do what they're going to do, but you've got to work the batter. We want to make sure we don't give them anything for free."
Clouse didn't, as two pitches later, he got Manson to ground out to third base to end the game.
"Doggone we just let them off the hook," Hatch said. "I thought our kids did a great job, but we missed some opportunities."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
ARCHBISHOP MURPHY 3, SEHOME 2
Sehome 100 010 0 ? 2 6 2
Archbishop Murphy 000 201 x ? 3 3 2
WP: Alexander Clouse. LP: Josh Zavisubin. Highlights: Sehome: Josh Zavisubin 2-4, 2B; Jacob Manson 1-4, R, 2B; Tyler Knutsen 1-3, 2B, RBI. Archbishop Murphy: Casey Dawes 2-3, 2 R, Derrick Mahlum 1-2, 2 RBI.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.