LAUREL - Meridian appeared headed for a comfortable fourth-straight victory only 1/3 of an inning into the bottom of the first of its Class 1A Tri-District Tournament opener.
Six innings later, the Trojans were barley hanging on and more than thankful for their fast start.
Meridian scored all six of its runs in the first before its offense went into hiding, sophomore left-hander Derek Campfield threw 6 2-3 strong innings and the Trojans evaded elimination with a 6-4 win against Seattle Christian on Thursday, May 15, at Meridian High School.
The Trojans (12-12) now have two chances to earn a Class 1A State Tournament berth, starting with a game against Life Christian Academy at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 17, at Meridian.
"Going into this game we were prepared, and we have been peaking at the right time," Meridian shortstop Jacob Plagerman said. "We've been playing a lot more loose. Especially in that first inning, we were ready to go."
Meridian capitalized on an inning-opening error by Seattle Christian's shortstop, and the Trojans followed with back-to-back bunt singles from David Anderson and Tanner Tutterrow and three straight base hits from Davis Phillips, Plagerman and Dakota Jones.
Jamison Hodge's RBI single was Meridian's sixth and final hit of the inning, as the Trojans owned a 6-0 lead only 1/3 of an inning into the bottom of the first.
"We executed well, laid down some nice bunts and had some clutch hits that inning," Meridian coach Steve Slesk said. "Hitting is contagious, and they came out ready to go, and I was proud of them for that."
But what looked like a would-be quick, 10-run rule rout, turned out to be a much closer contest.
Meridian only logged one hit over the next five innings. A Josh Hosick fourth-inning walk and a fifth-inning Phillips single were the Trojans' only baserunners from the third to the sixth inning.
Fortunately for Meridian, Campfield put together a strong outing in a pressure spot, especially for a sophomore.
The big lefty struck out seven, walked four and didn't give up any earned runs over 6 2-3 innings. He got into trouble in the bottom of the seventh, and consecutive walks brought Devyn Holmes in to get the final out and the save.
"It was a good win," Campfield said. "If we lost, we were going home and nobody wanted to do that, so we just battled our hardest and came out on top. I thought I did good, more walks than I wanted to, but I thought it was pretty good."
Campfield worked his way out of jams in both the first and the fourth, but his defense made a costly error in the fifth inning, allowing one run to score on a botched play at the plate. The error prolonged the inning, and a base hit cut Meridian's lead to 6-2.
The sophomore got a huge boost of confidence from the early six-run lead, though.
"It's nice, because I can just focus on throwing strikes and not worry about anything else," Campfield said. "I can pound (the strike zone) more."
Campfield was one out from a complete game until Tutterrow couldn't hang on to a Plagerman throw from shortstop on a routine groundball. A run came across to trim Meridian's lead to 6-3 and back-to-back walks loaded the bases and evoked a pitching change.
Seattle Christian cut the lead to 6-4 with an RBI single before Plagerman made a nice play on a hard-hit groundball to barley get a force out at second to end the game.
"Jake made a hell of a play there on a bad hop," Slesk said. "That's how it's done - perfect fundamental play, ball comes up, he fielded it in front. A lot of kids field it to the side. He took it off the chest and was able to make the out. It was a great play by him."
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
MERIDIAN 6, SEATTLE CHRISTIAN 4
Seattle Chr. 000 020 2 - 4 9 2
Meridian 600 000 x - 6 7 2
WP: Derek Campfield. LP: Tyler Fox. S: Devyn Holmes. Highlights: Mer - Davis Phillips 2-3 RBI; Jake Plagerman 1-3, RBI, R; Dakota Jones 1-3, RBI, R; Jamison Hodge 1-3, RBI.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.