Sehome pitcher Felix Zavisubin’s objective was two-fold against city-rival Squalicum during the inaugural game Tuesday, March 31, on Joe Martin Field’s new turf.
Not only were the Mariners calling on their sophomore to stifle Squalicum’s talented lineup, Zavisubin was squaring off against David Stealy, one of the best pitchers in the Northwest Conference.
“Felix matched him,” Sehome coach Gary Hatch said. “He matched him pitch for pitch.”
Zavisubin propelled the Mariners to their second league win in as many days and threw a gem in the process. He mixed speeds, hit his spots and kept the Storm off-balance during his complete-game shutout. Zavisubin gave up five hits, struck out two, walked one and induced 10 ground balls.
And Zavisubin got just enough help from senior shortstop Jake Albert.
A half inning after Albert made the defensive play of the game on a bouncing ground ball he had to lay out for before throwing the runner out at first, the senior hit a clutch two-out, run-scoring single in the top of the sixth to help Sehome earn a 3-0 NWC win over the Storm.
“This win was huge,” Zavisubin said. “New field, first game, it feels really good to get the win against a city rival, and just playing against those kids that we knew, it was a lot of fun. It was a great win today.”
Zavisubin stayed out of trouble most of the game. The Storm didn’t advance a runner to second until the fifth inning when a spell of rain tested Joe Martin’s new turf for roughly 20 minutes. Squalicum didn’t get a runner to third the entire game.
Hatch credited catcher Owen Wright for the game he called, and the Mariners coach liked the way Zavisubin attacked an equally aggressive Storm team.
“He changes his speeds really well,” Hatch said. “He uses his change-up I think as well as any guy we got on staff, but his fastball has a little movement, too. ... He hit the black part a lot. Just overall he was in pretty good command out there today.”
Zavisubin and Wright kept Squalicum from executing on the base paths when they did get runners on. Zavisubin picked off Ernie Yake in the first inning, and Wright threw out runners trying to steal second in both the second and third.
Zavisubin got the win for the Mariners (5-5, 2-1 NWC), but Stealy’s engineered a strong outing, too. The senior also went the distance, giving up one earned run on eight hits. He struck out five and walked three.
“David was fine,” Storm coach John Inge said. “He didn’t have his best fastball. He had his good curveball but had some trouble locating. When he has both going, he’s top-notch. He is really virtually unhittable, but when he doesn’t have one or the other, you got a chance against him.”
And Sehome capitalized on its chances for the most part.
Neither team got anything going offensively after Sehome’s Kealohi Grondin was thrown out at home plate in the top of the first trying to score from second on a two-out Albert single.
Finally in the top of the sixth the Mariners got their breakthrough.
Aaron Nichols led off the inning with an infield single and was moved over to second with a sac bunt from Gage Bull. Grondin grounded out to shortstop, and with two outs on a 0-1 count, Albert drove a ball through the right side of the infield to give Sehome a 1-0 advantage.
“He’s the right guy,” Hatch said. “He’s the right guy at the plate for it. He’s the guy you want. Albe has been swinging the bat really well for us, and he was the right man and in the right spot today.”
Sehome added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Zavisubin and Cameron Titpon, who went 2 for 2 with a double and reached base all three at-bats, hit back-to-back singles to give the Mariners runners at first and second with one out. Two batters latter, Nichols reached first on a wide throw to first, and Zavisubin and Tipton each came around to score.
Squalicum’s Josh Holcomb and Tim Lann recorded consecutive singles in the bottom of the seventh with one out, but Zavisubin got Bunji McLeod to line out and Drew Segren to ground out to first, ending the game.
The loss marked the first time Squalicum (7-2, 1-2 NWC) has been shutout this season.
Sehome 3, Squalicum 0
WP: Felix Zavisubin (2-0). LP: David Stealy (2-2). Highlights: Squalicum: Ernie Yake 1-3; Carter Nickelson 1-3; Tim Lann 1-2, BB. Sehome: Jake Albert 2-3, RBI; Cameron Tipton 2-2, 2B, BB, R, SB; Aaron Nichols 1-3, R; Felix Zavisubin 1-3, R.