It’s never over until the last out is something every coach preaches, and Ferndale coach Donny Hennigs will be the first to admit a lot of times that’s just “coach talk.”
But Ferndale’s baseball team has bought into that cliche statement and that motto has the Golden Eagles in the Class 3A State Tournament after an 11-6 win over Marysville-Pilchuck in a loser-out, winner-to-state Northwest District Tournament game on Saturday, May 16, at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Down 6-2, with its back against the wall in its third loser-out game in a week, Ferndale’s mantra of ‘just keep playing; don’t worry about the scoreboard’ came through.
Following a groundout by Conner Erickson, Kyler Brudwick walked and Brady Shearer hit a single to right field and it was all the momentum the Golden Eagles needed.
“After we got a couple hits, it boosted morale,” Ferndale sophomore Matthew James said. “It only took a walk and a hit and we were on fire.”
Kyler Schemstad came through next with an RBI single to right field, causing Marysville-Pilchuck to replace starter Parker House before James really got things going with a deep RBI double to left field off reliever Zach Barker that scored two.
“I just was going up there expecting a first-pitch fastball and I got it where I liked it and hit it hard,” James said.
A walk and a bloop single by Ian Barnes loaded the bases again, making way for pinch-hitter Nate Carlson’s sacrifice fly to tie the game at 6-6.
But the Golden Eagles weren’t done yet.
Kyle Sandstrom was intentionally walked to load the bases and then Conner Erickson’s ground ball to short was fielded by Nate Anderson, who’s throw to first pulled Alex Aumick off the bag just for a split second, just long enough for Erickson to be called safe.
Aumick turned and fired to home when Barnes made a bolt for it amidst the commotion and sailed it high, making it 8-6 Ferndale.
A three-RBI double by Shearer two batters later gave the Golden Eagles an 11-6 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.
“It was all a blur. I don’t remember all the stuff that happened in there,” Hennigs laughed. “We compete and find a way. They made a mistake or two and we capitalized on it. That’s what we had to do.”
The five-run lead was enough for Carlson, who came on in the sixth inning and retired all six batters he faced, sending Ferndale to state as District 1’s No. 3 seed.
The Golden Eagles will face District 2’s No. 3 seed for yet another loser-out game on Saturday, May 23, at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon.
“It feels great,” James said. “We’ve worked hard for this all year and we finally accomplished our goal.”
Hennigs pointed out that the seniors, of which Ferndale has nine, have played roughly 200 games together and he’s just excited for them to get to experience state to cap it all off.
“This just shows how resilient this team is. They love each other; they want to keep playing,” Hennigs said. “It’s about the kids and an excellent week, from getting it handed to us last Saturday to this Saturday advancing to the state tournament.”
After losing 13-0 to Lynnwood, Ferndale topped Mountlake Terrace and Meadowdale in loser-out games on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, and came out swinging Saturday.
Sandstrom opened the game with a double to deep left center field, making use of the deep walls at the Everett Aquasox ballpark. A single by Erickson moved Sandstrom to third.
Erickson tried to steal second during the next at bat and was thrown out while Sandstrom took home to open the scoring.
The Tomahawks responded with two runs in the bottom of the first against Ferndale starter Corbin Puhan, who threw 4 1/3 innings, allowing 10 hits, six runs and striking out two.
Marysville-Pilchuck added one in the third, but Ferndale took one back in the fifth when James’ double was followed by a Cole Weidkamp single.
But once again, the Tomahawks had an answer.
In the bottom of the fifth, Marysville-Pilchuck had three straight doubles off Puhan followed by two singles, which scored three runs, before Hennigs was forced to relieve the senior. Puhan picked up the win after Ferndale’s big sixth inning.
“They’re a quality team and we get into these tournaments where teams are playing their third, fourth game of the week, that pitching starts to run down a bit and get tired, so offense usually scores some more runs,” Hennigs said. “That’s what I thought this game was going to be — a high-scoring affair.”
Miguel Mungarro came in and walked his first batter but forced Aumick to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Ferndale finished with 11 hits and committed zero errors.
Ferndale 11, Marysville-Pilchuck 6
WP: Corbin Puhan. LP: Zack Barker. Highlights: M-P: Landon Riker 2-4, 2B, 3 R, SB; Tristen Southard 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI, R; Nick Anderson 2-3, 2 2B, 3 RBI, R; Calvin Walker 2-3, RBI; Alex Aumick 1-3. Ferndale: Kyle Sandstrom 2-4, 2B, SB, R; Conner Erickson 1-5, 3 RBI, R; Brady Shearer 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Kyler Schemstad 1-3, R, RBI; Matthew James 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R; Kole Weidkamp 1-2, RBI, R, 2 BB; Nate Carlson 1-1, RBI.