It was all so fitting.
The seniors coming through on senior day, the extra-inning thriller to decide the likely Northwest Conference champion and the Lions’ coming from behind, using football coach Curt Kramme’s “setback, comeback” mentality ingrained in all Lynden teams headlined the crazy Friday afternoon, May 8, at Lynden High School.
It amounted to a 5-4 win for Lynden (16-1, 10-0 NWC) in eight innings, as the Lions secured a third NWC title in four years barring any setbacks in the final two conference games.
“It’s great,” Lynden coach Steve Petersen said. “Before this group of seniors got here, we weren’t winning district titles.”
And the senior class of six showed why they’ve been so successful the past four seasons numerous times throughout the game but nothing was more important than their play in the bottom of the eighth inning, which senior Jenna Bonsen perfectly described as “crazy.”
Bonsen led off the inning with a single to right field and moved to second on a fielder’s choice before Morgan Black pinch ran for her.
“I was really happy she came in for me,” Bonsen said. “She hasn’t been able to play a lot this season and it was awesome to see her score the winning run.”
Black moved to third on senior Sara Collins’ base hit up the left side.
With runners on first and second, Elisa Kooiman hit a bouncer to the Anacortes (12-5, 7-2) pitcher, Brooke Writer, who looked down the speedy Black at third, leaving herself no time to throw out Kooiman, loading the bases for arguably Lynden’s best hitter, senior Mandy Warner.
Warner promptly delivered a line drive just over the glove of the outstretched third baseman, as the Lynden benches cleared to celebrate the victory.
“It was so exciting. We were all jumping up and down,” Bonsen said. “I think all of the seniors stepped up today.”
The six seniors went 8 for 22 on the day with three RBI, including Bonsen’s home run to make it 2-0 in the fourth inning.
After Bonsen led off with a double in the fourth, two deep flyouts brought her home.
Once the bases were cleared with two outs, Bonsen drove the ball well past the left-field wall, her first home run as a Lion.
“I was a little nervous going up to bat, because it was senior night and a close game,” Bonsen said. “But it was awesome. I didn’t even know it went over at first.”
The Lions, however, didn’t lead for long. In an uncharacteristic inning in the circle for Benson, who struck out five on the day, the Seahawks picked up four hits, got two base on balls and scored four runs via singles and stolen bases.
Lynden hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a game since March 21, so the outburst from Anacortes was very unexpected in the lengthy inning, as the umpires spent several minutes discussing whether there was a foul tip or not when Rachel Nelson took third as a pitch hit the backstop.
The umpire seemed to say it was a foul ball but allowed the runner to stay on third. It was just one of several controversial calls in the game — another resulted in Anacortes coach Tom Swapp protesting the game in the top of the sixth. The protest will be decided by league officials and if the league rules in favor of the Seahawks, the game will be replayed from the sixth inning.
Lynden picked one run back up in the bottom of the fifth but still trailed 4-3 going into the bottom of the seventh. The Lions’ never seemed in doubt, though, and Bonsen admits they weren’t.
“It’s just having confidence in yourself,” Bonsen said. “Setback, comeback.”
So when Ally Dahm blasted a one-out homer in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game it came as no surprise to Lynden, which has persevered in close games with Sehome, Ferndale, mount Baker and Burlington-Edison during the 16-game win streak.
The big knock would have won the game if Warner hadn’t been called out on the previous play when she rounded the base after her single before Anacortes threw to first and tagged her. The umpire ruled she didn’t get back in time, but Petersen thought otherwise, intensely arguing the call to no avail.
The Lions ended up not needing it, as Benson retired the side in order in the top of the eighth, leading the way for Warner’s game-winning hit.
Lynden will conclude the season with a doubleheader against Sedro-Woolley and a game against Squalicum as the Lions try to close out the conference title.
Lynden 5, Anacortes 4 (8)