LYNDEN - For the second straight game, teams in the late innings have opted to give top Lynden hitter Jordan Wittenberg a free pass in order to face senior utility man Christian Mouat.
Mouat hit a walkoff single three days ago to lift Lynden over Ferndale in 12 innings. This time he helped send the Lions to the postseason.
Junior pitcher Lucas Petersen threw a complete game with seven strikeouts, Mouat came up with a clutch, two-out, two-RBI single in the fifth and Lynden scored a 3-1 Northwest Conference win full of postseason implications Tuesday, May 6, at Lynden High School.
The Lions (13-7, 9-3 NWC) clinched their third straight district tournament berth and finished their final 10 games with a 9-1 record after starting the season 4-6. They'll face Granite Falls at noon Saturday, May 10, at Volunteer Park in Anacortes for a Class 2A Bi-District Tournament first-round matchup, earning a No. 3 seed.
Lynden needed a win to guarantee a berth. A loss and a Sehome win would have ended its season.
"You never want to rely on other teams to determine your postseason fate, and we were able to do it," Lynden coach Cory White said. "That Ferndale win was a huge springboard for us to have the opportunity to do that. But I'm really proud of these guys to come in and finish 9-3 in our season with the experienced guys we graduated last year."
Mouat's base knock, which was one of only three Lynden hits, came in the bottom of the fifth with the score tied at 1 apiece.
Sedro-Woolley pitcher Collin Hannan intentionally walked Wittenberg to give the Lions a runner at second and first with two outs before Austen Urban, who was on second, and Wittenberg successfully completed a double steal to put runners at second and third.
After getting behind in the count 0-2, Mouat battled back and lofted a shallow fly ball into right field just beyond the outstretched arms of the Sedro-Woolley first baseman. Urban scored easily, and Wittenberg used his speed to motor all the way home from second, giving Lynden a two-run advantage.
"Going up to the at-bats, it's always a little shaky, because I don't know how they are going to turn out," said Mouat of hitting in a big spot. "But once I've been getting these hits in clutch situations and I see the runs coming in and just the points on the board going up, it gets me excited.
The Lions didn't have their best offensive day by any means, but Lynden's struggles against Hannan were mitigated by Petersen's work on the hill.
White said his starter benefitted from an extra day of rest with yesterday's game being rained out, and Petersen seemingly got better as the game wore on.
Petersen commanded his pitches well, yielding one earned run and five hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in seven innings of work. He polished his complete game by striking out the side in the top of the seventh.
"I was excited I got to pitch," Petersen said. "I like having the ball in my hand, and it went well obviously. Guys made plays behind me when we needed to. We got clutch hitting. I couldn't be happier."
Besides Petersen and the Lions working their way out of the first unscathed following an early jam with runners at first and third with one out, Petersen's only difficulty came in the third.
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead with an RBI single from Austin Skaarup, who went 2 for 3, but Lynden's defense limited more damage thanks to a 6-4-3 double play with one out and runners at first and third.
Lynden manufactured a run to battle back and tie the game in the bottom of the fourth.
Mouat and Petersen hit back-to-back singles, Dalton Ohligschlager bunted them over into scoring position and Cameron Wainwright drove in Mouat from third with a deep sacrifice fly to center field.
Next inning Mouat came up with the big hit the Lions needed.
"They had the early lead on us, but we scratched a run, came back out and again, for the second game in a row, they intentionally walked Wittenberg to get to Christian Mouat, and that's a senior at the plate," White said. "I'll tell you what, anytime you have a senior at the plate, you know maybe it's his last at-bat, you never know. But he put the bat on the ball, threw his hands at it and he picked up two huge runs for us."
The win eliminated Sedro-Woolley, which needed to win to earn a postseason berth.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
LYNDEN 3, SEDRO-WOOLLEY 1
Sedro-Woolley 001 000 0 - 1 5 1
Lynden 000 120 x - 3 3 0
WP: Lucas Petersen (3-3). LP: Collin Hannan. Highlights: LYN - Christian Mouat 2-3, 2 RBI, R; Lucas Petersen 1-3. SW - Austin Skaarup 2-3, RBI, Branson Gahan 1-3, R.
CLASS 2A BI-DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
SQUALICUM VS. LAKE WASHINGTON
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Daniels Field in Anacortes
LYNDEN VS. GRANITE FALLS
Where: Volunteer Park in Anacortes
SEHOME VS. ARCHBISHOP MURPHY
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Daniels Field in Anacortes
*All games Saturday, May 10. Squalicum is No. 2 seed, Lynden is No. 3 and Sehome is No. 4.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.