Golden Eagles third baseman Kyler Schemstad couldn’t stress enough the importance of getting back that winning feeling.
After reeling off seven straight wins to start the year, Ferndale was hoping to shake the sting of dropping two of its last three heading into a league contest against Meridian on Tuesday, April 7.
The Golden Eagles relied on what got them their hot start — pitching and defense — and engineered a late-game rally to earn an 8-3 Northwest Conference win against the Trojans at Ferndale High School.
“This win was everything to us, because we are just coming off a tough three games where we went 1-2,” Brudwick said. “That’s a good team. We faced good pitching. (Dalton Biehle) shut us down early, but we definitely needed that.”
Ferndale left-handed pitcher Schemstad picked up his third win of the season, throwing five strong innings before giving up three runs in the sixth, Brudwick drove in the game-tying and go-ahead runs with a two-RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, Kole Wiedkamp was 3 for 4 and Kyle Sandstrom was 2 for 2, reaching base all four of his at-bats.
The Golden Eagles’ defense was strong behind Schemstad, whose stuff wasn’t overpowering but very effective nonetheless. The lefty only struck out one, but with the help of his defense, didn’t get into trouble until the sixth.
Shortstop Corbin Puhan made a brilliant play in the third, diving to his left to stop a hard-hit ground ball before raising to his feet and throwing out Meridian’s Brady Moore at first. In the fourth, Ferndale threw out Devyn Holmes at home plate, and catcher Brady Shearer helped make two heads-up plays on bunts.
“Pitching and defense,” Ferndale coach Donny Hennigs said without hesitation when asked what sparked the Golden Eagles’ strong first-half play. “Pitchers aren’t walking guys, and we aren’t giving them free bases by kicking the ball around and our offense is doing just enough to be successful right now.”
Conner Erickson gave Ferndale a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, driving in Sandstrom with a single into left. But after a three-hit opening inning, Biehle, Meridian’s left-handed starter, settled in and kept the Golden Eagles off-balance.
Biehle held Ferndale scoreless until the bottom of the fifth when Matt James drove in Schemstad with a clutch two-out RBI double over the left fielder’s head to put the Golden Eagles in front 2-0.
But the Trojans answered in the top of the sixth.
Following a Tanner Tutterrow groundout, Derek Campfield, Holmes and Dakota Jones supplied three consecutive singles. Jones drove in Campfield, Dawson Phillips scored Holmes on a suicide squeeze and a Brenton Fox RBI single up the middle put the Trojans in front 3-2.
Then, as Meridian coach Steve Slesk put it, the implosion came.
Nate Carlson led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk, and with the bases loaded two batters later Brudwick, off new pitcher Holmes, drove in two with a single to right-center field.
“They persevere,” said Hennigs of his club. “We have a saying that is, ‘It’s tough to beat somebody that never gives up,’ and if you play hard all seven innings most of the time you’re going to end up on the right side of the scoreboard.”
Disaster hit Meridian when Schemstad laid down a bunt following Brudwick’s big hit. Two throwing errors on the same play resulted into two more runs scored, and before the inning ended the Golden Eagles had pushed six across to take a 8-3 advantage into the seventh.
“We didn’t cover first one one (error),” said Slesk, who felt his team didn’t come ready to play. “We threw it up the line for three runs. We just imploded.”
Ferndale pitcher Migel Mungarro threw the seventh, retiring Meridian in order.