Since the death of the school’s legendary football coach last month, the Lynden baseball team has adopted one of the favorite mottoes of Curt Kramme, who also coached the Lions’ freshman baseball team for a number of years – “Setback, comeback.”
Catcher Cole Marlowe even had the phrase penned on the tape on his left wrist for Saturday’s Class 2A State Tournament first-round game against Tumwater at Auburn High School. But Marlowe wasn’t just wearing the words – he and his teammates did their best to live up to them.
Four times the Thunderbirds got the leadoff man in an inning on base, and all four times the Lions erased the would-be threat at second base.
But it was the fifth time – the threat that began when Lynden had already recorded an out in the inning – that ended up biting the Lions and sending them to a 2-0 season-ending loss. Logan Hayes sent a hard-hit bouncer toward third base that took an artificial turf bounce over an outstretched glove and into left field, allowing Austin Pullar and Noah Andrews to score from second and third in the bottom of the sixth for the only runs of the game.
“A lot of people don’t realize how big a difference there is playing on turf vs. grass,” Lynden coach Cory White said. “It’s totally different. But we’re not making excuses. ... We got great pitching and defense all year long, and it wasn’t pitching or defense that let us down today.”
What did let the Lions down was their offense, which for the second straight game failed to generate a run. In fact, for 6 2/3 innings, Lynden’s bats didn’t produce a hit.
Before Jack Doolittle broke up Tumwater pitcher Logan Chase’s no-hit bid with two outs in the top of the seventh, the only Lion batter to reach base was Jared House, who drew a pair of walks and was hit in the head in his three plate appearances.
“He did a good job of keeping us on our heels,” Marlowe said of Chase, who had nine strikeouts. “He had a good slider, and he developed confidence in it early on. He would throw it for first-pitch strikes, and then it makes it difficult to figure out what he’s going to throw next.”
Fortunately for Lynden, Trevin Hope was nearly as dominant. He limited the Thunderbirds to four hits and one walk while striking out five.
And the few times Tumwater did get a runner on base, Hope and Marlowe were able to erase them. The T-birds got the leadoff runner on base in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings. But three times Marlowe threw out runners at second base on failed sacrifice bunt attempts or on a straight steal, and the fourth time Hope picked off a runner at second.
“We knew they had pretty good speed, so we challenged Cole to slow them down this week,” White said. “He really answered that challenge.”
Marlowe credited Hope for throwing good fastballs to help him make the throws but said working on getting his pop-up time under two seconds during the week also made a big difference.
Unfortunately for Lynden, no sooner hard Marlowe thrown out his third base runner of the game, than Pullar and Andrews ripped back-to-back singles through the Lynden infield. Hope struck out Noah Sirkel, but that’s when the turf bit the Lions on Hayes’ bouncer to bring in the two unearned runs.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed to see the season come to an end, but I thought these kids did a great job with all the weight and expectations that were on their shoulders,” White said. “To win the Legion state title last summer put a lot of expectations on them. But I thought the kids did a great job of handling it. They used it as confidence that they could play with some pretty good teams, and I think we showed that today. Finishing 19-4 is a heck of an accomplishment.”