Sehome baseball coach Monte Walton’s stomach was churning before Tuesday’s Class 2A Bi-District Tournament play-in game against Bellingham at Joe Martin Field.
A win, and his team would move on to the double-elimination portion of the tournament, but a loss would end the seventh-seeded Mariners’ season as suddenly as hitting a brick wall.
“These loser out games, and it’s against a rival – a city rival,” Walton said, “it was nerve wracking. Fortunately we had Even Kingma step up.”
Kingma was better than any over-the-counter antacid Walton could have taken, as he scattered six hits and two walks while striking out seven to shut out the Red Raiders 3-0 and lift Sehome to the first round of the bi-district tournament against Lynden Saturday at Anacortes.
Never miss a local story.
While Kingma was just what Walton and Sehome (13-7) needed, Bellingham coach A.J. Matthews, who has worked with the junior right-hander at Inside Pitch, knew his team had its work cut out for it when he saw the lineup card confirming Kingma would be on the mound.
“We have this thing called the Gold Class for pitching,” Matthews said. “When I saw him in that, I was like, ‘How are we going to beat this guy?’ We got six hits against him, but most of them were with two outs. He was great.”
Kingma actually got off to a little bit of a rough start, allowing three hits and two walks his first time through Bellingham’s order and using 44 pitches through the first two innings. In the second, the Red Raiders managed to load the bases with just one out.
But Kingma turned them away empty handed, recording a strikeout and a fly out while utilizing one of the tricks he learned at Inside Pitch – grunting.
“Coach Brandon Hunt down at IP said you can throw harder if you grunt,” Kingma said with a grin. “I took that into consideration and I went with it.”
With Kingma grunting his way through the Bellingham lineup, the biggest question remaining was whether he would be able to finish the game. He entered the seventh inning just 17 pitches shy of the 105 pitch limit. Two of the first three batters he faced in the frame took him to a full count, taking his count to 102.
“I said he’d have to throw three strikes to that last batter, or I’d have to come get him,” Walton said. “I’ve never all season come out and get a pitcher when he was facing a batter. I thought Evan deserved a chance to be out there, at least for three more pitches.”
Kingma kept his coach’s streak intact, getting a fly out for the final out of the game on his 105th pitch of the day.
Sehome gave Kingma the lead in the second when Dane Farris singled, stole second and scored on a wild pitch and error. Jack Carbee’s sacrifice fly plated an insurance run in the fifth, and Shane Jamison singled in another in the sixth to help end Bellingham’s season.
“This team came from a last season a four-win season no playoffs to this year having six wins and a (district berth),” Matthews said. “I told them out there to have a season like this where play against crosstwon rival where have whole team to root you on or against you, that’s a good season.”
Sehome 3, Bellingham 0
WP: Evan Kingma. LP: Lyle Dether. Highlights: Bellingham: Kyle Dether 1-2, 2B; Nathan Parsley 2-3. Sehome: Felix Zavisubin 2-3, R, 3B, SB; Shane Jamison 1-3, RBI; Alex Pitton 1-3, R, SB.