Lynden sophomore James Marsh had good reason to seem as calm as he could be during nerve-wracking sixth and seventh innings with the Class 2A state regionals at stake.
How many other pitchers, besides those on his team, can say they have a defense good enough to help produce 10 shutouts and now seven other wins with only one run allowed?
“I have all the confidence in our defense,” Marsh (8-1) said after his 2-1 complete-game win over Anacortes in the Class 2A Northwest District semifinals Tuesday at Volunteer Field. “They put in a lot of extra work.”
With longtime Lynden coach Cory White’s fifth state spot in a six-season span assured, the Lions (19-2) will face Liberty – a 6-2 winner over Burlington-Edison – for the district title Saturday at 2 p.m.
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The Lions spoiled a superb pitching effort by Anacortes junior Lincoln Gilden with two runs in the bottom of the sixth after No. 9 hitter Trevor Abitia lined a shot to center to lead off the inning and Jared House executed a well-placed sacrifice bunt.
Two errors later, Abitia had scored and, with two outs, Marcus Vander Veen’s sharp single scored Dawson Ohligschlager for a 2-0 lead heading into the seventh.
Marsh threw only 61 pitches in the first five innings but needed 40 more in the last two innings, only four fewer than the new National Federation limit.
Marsh also shut out the Seahawks (14-7) in the sixth after shortstop Vander Veen received an ovation for a diving catch well into center field for the first out. First baseman House then hustled after an overthrow and threw to Vander Veen covering second base for the second out.
Leadoff hitter Ryan Campbell, Anacortes’ lone senior, then singled and Gilden walked to keep the inning alive. But Marsh coaxed a hard, long fly ball by Eamon Gilden that was snagged by Abitia for the third out.
A walk, a fielder’s choice for the first out and singles by Caden Cornett and Jacob South loaded the bases for Anacortes. But Marsh fielded a high chopper to the mound by Evan Rodriguez for the second out as Ty Saunders scored. Third baseman Jordan Holmstrom, forced to throw off the wrong foot on a high chopper, ended the game with an outstanding throw.
“We spend a lot of time on those wrong-foot throws,” said White, in his 24th season. “It sure paid off. We’ve never had so many pitching gems (with Lynden winning all 17) in one season, but that’s how we win, with pitching and defense.”
A GOOD SPORT
White and his young team – only three seniors – also played the role of good sports.
“Don’t forget to mention what an outstanding game their pitcher (Gilden) threw,” said White, who lauded Marsh’s poise, uncommon for a sophomore. “This was definitely a game no pitcher deserved to lose.”
Sophomore Jack Doolittle’s third-inning single was Lynden’s first hit.
“We’re a very close team,” said White, who guided his young guys to a 27-10 record and the state AA American Legion championship last summer. “Our guys really are dedicated to the work.”
After winning its season opener, Lynden played an amazing 18 games in only 38 days from March 22 to April 29. In many less weather-plagued parts of the nation, that would be unheard of, but it gave the Lions their chance to develop pitching depth.
“I think I have six or seven,” Marsh said with a grin, when asked how many of those 17 games with no more than one run allowed he had pitched. As far as how many outstanding plays have supported him, they seem countless at this point.