ANACORTES - Lynden coach Cory White gathered his club after four scoreless innings and reminded them how effective its offense has been lately during the back end of games.
The Lions used some late-inning heroics to score consecutive wins to end their regular season in what Lynden's Kody Ames called "playoff atmosphere games."
Now in the playoffs, the Lions again rallied late, this time in the top of the seventh, to earn a 4-2 Class 2A Bi-District Tournament opening-round win against Granite Falls on Saturday early afternoon, May 10, at Volunteer Park in Anacortes.
Lions catcher Carson Smith executed a suicide-squeeze play to score Dalton Ohligschlager from third to give Lynden a one-run lead, and Anthony Garcia delivered a clutch two-out RBI single to cap the two-run seventh inning.
Lynden pitcher Lucas Petersen sealed the game, pitching the seventh and earning a save with a 1-2-3 inning.
"It's huge," said Ames, who earned the win on the mound, throwing six innings of two-run ball. "We had Ferndale and Sedro-Woolley and those were some playoff atmosphere games. We came into this game thinking the same thing, and we got the job done, so I couldn't be happier right now."
The win advances Lynden to the Bi-District Tournament semifinals where it'll meet Anacortes at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, at Volunteer Park.
Christian Mouat led the Lions with three hits, Ohligschlager was 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI and Cameron Wainwright also drove in a run.
However, Lynden's bats were held at bay by Granite Falls starter Riley Larson most of the game until the top of the fifth inning when the Lions began offering at first-pitch fastballs.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead with a run in the fourth before Jordan Wittenberg sparked a fifth-inning rally that sent eight batters to the plate.
Wittenberg and Mouat hit back-to-back singles before Petersen bunted them over to second and third. Ohligschlager and Wainwright then hit consecutive singles to score both runners, pushing Lynden in front 2-1.
"We met after the fifth, sixth and the seventh and the thing we talked about is this is when we have been winning the games lately," White said. "The thing was getting guys on base, whether it was a walk, hit-by-pitch, basehit, however. That's what we were able to do, and once you get guys on base, you can execute some small-ball and put the bat on the ball that way."
Both Ames and White admitted Lynden hasn't had the most success playing small-ball this year, but that wasn't the case Saturday. The Lions executed brilliantly with three or four sacrifice bunts. None was more important, though, than Smith's suicide in the seventh.
"I think we were a little too relaxed the first four innings or however long it took us to get started," Ames said, "but then we picked it up, got some runs and started clutching up at the right times."
Lynden and Anacortes have played twice already this spring. The Seahawks won 9-7 early in a non-conference game, and the Lions won 3-2 in a league game back on April 19. The winner of Tuesday's meeting will advance to the bi-district title game and earn an automatic state berth.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
LYNDEN 4, GRANITE FALLS 2
Lynden 000 020 2 - 4 10 1
Granite Falls 000 110 0 - 2 8 3
WP: Kody Ames. LP: Riley Larson. S: Lucas Petersen Highlights: LYN - Christian Mouat 3-4, R; Dalton Ohligschlager 2-4, RBI, R; Cameron Wainwright 1-4,RBI; Anthony Garcia 1-4, RBI.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.