FERNDALE - Sehome baseball coach Gary Hatch has developed three pitchers who can hit. Or is it three hitters who can pitch?
"Now that's a real good question," said Hatch, in an ebullient mood following Sehome's third consecutive Northwest Conference win, a well-played 4-2 victory over Ferndale in brutal wind and cold on Saturday, April 19, at Ferndale.
Junior right-hander Jake Albert, the regular shortstop when not pitching, and pitcher/third baseman Drew Lomsdalen and pitcher/outfielder Josh Zavisubin combined to produce five hits - including two doubles by Lomsdalen - four runs scored and three runs batted in to support Albert's four-hitter.
"You'd have to go back a long way to find the year when our three top pitchers could also hit like these three guys can," said Hatch of his leadoff batter, No. 3 hitter and cleanup batter.
That would be a long way, indeed, since Hatch is in his 35th season as head coach.
Hatch has noted this is his youngest team, which helps explain the slow start for the Mariners (8-6 overall, 3-3), whose three league losses were all by one run.
"We don't get the depth of athletic talent we used to get, so we have to have multi-talented guys like these," said Hatch, who has seen many potential baseball standouts participate in two other huge spring sports at Sehome - soccer and track - especially over the second half of his career.
Senior right-hander Kyle Baker had only one bad inning for Ferndale (7-6, 4-2) - when the first six batters in Sehome's order combined to produce three runs in the third inning and five of the Mariners' eight hits.
Albert (3-1), though, was a worthy winner, limiting the Golden Eagles to only one earned run. Brady Bauthues stroked a home run, the second of the season for one of the NWC's most feared hitters, well over the left field fence to open the fourth inning.
After a one-out single by Kyler Schemstad and Sehome's lone error, Colin Wagner hit an RBI grounder to shortstop for Ferndale's second run of the fourth.
At that point, Albert clamped down on one of the league's most potent lineups. The only runner he allowed in the final three innings was on a double by Bauthues into the left-center field gap with none out in the sixth. Albert got the final three outs on a nice play by shortstop Felix Zavisubin on a slow roller, a come backer to Albert and a strikeout on three pitches.
Albert, whose only walk came in the first inning, struck out one batter in each of the final three innings after fanning only one hitter in the first four frames. He got solid defensive help from sophomore catcher Owen Wright, who also went 2 for 3.
"My breaking ball was not up to par," Albert said, "so I went with my change-up and often pitched even slower to keep them off balance. Then I began to get my rhythm (after Bauthues' long home run.)."
Like fellow right-handed starter Zavisubin and closer Lomsdalen, two of Sehome's three seniors, Albert would like to play college baseball.
Pitch or hit?
"That's a tough call," said Albert, who threw 76 pitches, including 54 strikes. "I'm really not sure."
Hatch said Lomsdalen, who has signed to pitch for Bellevue Community College, "is definitely capable of being a college hitter." The coach feels the same might well be said of Zavisubin, who has signed with the University of Puget Sound.
Albert led off the third inning with a double and Zavisubin singled him home with one out. Lomsdalen hit a gapper for an RBI double and Jacob Grondin connected for a run-scoring double just fair down the left field line.
Lomsdalen, who had a second double, went 6 for 11 with 6 RBI in Sehome's three league wins in a six-day stretch. The Ferndale game had to be rescheduled twice due to bad weather.
Baker (listed as 2-3 by Ferndale coach Donny Hennigs) gave up an unearned run in the first on two errors and Lomsdalen's sacrifice fly. Baker did not walk anyone and Hennigs was proud that the senior pitcher didn't let the rocky third inning bother him.
"Kyle didn't have his best stuff and he had one rough inning, but otherwise he pitched just fine," said Hennigs of what were utterly horrible conditions for pitchers.
Hatch is thrilled with his team's improvement.
"This was our best game of the season, the first in which we really had pitching, hitting and defense together. This is a young club getting better and better," he said. "This was our sixth game played in under two hours (1 hour and 25 minutes, to be exact)."
Sehome finished with eight hits and struck out only once against Baker, who showed a noteworthy focus especially considering the horrendous conditions.
"He (Baker) hung in and stayed with it," Hatch said. "He did a nice job, a commendable job."
Both teams needed badly to get in the game, since each faces six more league games through May 5 on only 13 potentially playable days, not counting Sundays. On Monday, April 21, Ferndale welcomes Nooksack Valley and Sehome faces Bellingham, listed as a night game at Joe Martin Field.
SEHOME 4, FERNDALE 2
Sehome 103 000 0 - 4 8 1
Ferndale 000 200 0 - 2 4 3
WP - Jake Albert (3-1). LP - Kyle Baker (2-3). Highlights: Sehome: Jake Albert 2-4, 2 R; Josh Zavisubin 1-4, R, RBI; Drew Lomsdalen 2-3, 2Bs, R, 2 RBI; Jacob Grondin 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Owen Wright 2-3. Ferndale: Brady Bauthues 2-2, HR, 2B, RBI; Pete Pennylegion 1-3; Kyler Schemstad 1-3, R; Colin Wagner RBI.