BELLINGHAM - Coach Quinn LeSage is convinced his Mount Baker baseball team is spirited and competitive enough to shake off anything.
After sweeping through the Class 1A Northwest District Tournament with three wins, the Mountaineers allowed 14 hits and suffered an 8-5 eight-inning loss to Cedar Park Christian on Saturday, May 11, in the Tri-District Tournament championship game at Joe Martin Field.
LeSage, though, believes his Mounties (10-14) - who were seeded directly into the Tri-District final - won't be satisfied with their first district title since 2004.
Their first trip to the state regionals since that season will offer an opportunity to possibly face Meridian again in the wake of Mount Baker's 2-1 district title win over the Trojans last weekend.
Such an intriguing matchup, however, could not occur until the state's final four, because Mount Baker will have to win the Castle Rock Regional and Meridian will have to take the Moses Lake Regional.
"There's no question the effort was there (against Cedar Park Christian)," said LeSage. "There is never a question with these guys. They have given phenomenal efforts all season."
LeSage, though, saw his team forced to wait an entire week to play again after the euphoria of their historic district championship.
"I thought at time we put a little too much pressure on ourselves in a championship game (against Cedar Park)," the second-year coach said. "Our composure was not always what it could have been. But we did a great job. We came back in every game we won at district and we came back twice today."
Indeed, the Mounties trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the third but rallied with three runs.
Cody Larson opened the third with a single, advanced on a balk and scored on starting pitcher Nick Larson's sharp single. Seth Bass walked and sophomore Colton Ranson singled, followed by Kaleb Brownfield's run-scoring grounder and a two-out RBI single by Titus Balvanz.
It was the first of three consecutive hits in a comeback attempt by Balvanz.
Cedar Park (16-5) tied it at 4-4 in the fourth inning, but Baker again rallied in the fifth for a 5-4 lead on Balvanz's second RBI single.
That was it for Baker, though. Cedar Park tied it 5-5 in the sixth with a bloop double by No. 9 hitter Brandon Snyder and a sharp single by Damien Cannon off Nick Larson.
Junior second baseman Jacob Marr responded with two hitless and scoreless innings of relief, stranding three runners and benefiting from a fine catch of a foul pop by Nick Larson, who moved to first base.
When Marr walked the first batter of the eighth, Kaleb Brownfield relieved him. Marr wound up the losing pitcher when Adrian Vela greeted Brownfield with a double to the left-field fence and cleanup hitter Josh McIntyre blooped a double to right, scoring winning pitcher Phoenix Mourer with the first run of the rally. Joe Heindel then stroked a two-run single to left.
Nick Larson doubled down the line with two outs in the bottom of the sixth with the score tied 5-5, but Mourer retired the side. In all, Mourer allowed only Nick Larson's double and Balvanz's third hit in 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to claim the win.
CEDAR PARK CHRISTIAN 8, MOUNT BAKER 5 (8)
Cedar Park Christian 200 201 03-8 14 2
Mount Baker 103 010 00-5 8 1
WP: Phoenix Mourer. LP: Jacob Marr. Highlights: Cedar Park Christian: Damien Cannon 3-5, RBI; Adrian Vela 3-4, 2B, RBI; Josh McIntyre 1-5, 2B, RBI; Joe Heindel 2-5, 2 RBI; Brandon Snyder 2-3, 2B, RBI. Mount Baker: Titus Balvanz 3-4, 2 RBI; Jacob Marr 1-5; Cody Larson 1-4, RBI; Nick Larson 2-5, 2B, RBI; Colton Ranson 1-3; Kaleb Brownfield RBI.