After making it to the regional round of the Class 2A State Baseball Tournament three years in a row, Lynden failed to qualify in 2015.
The Lions set it as their goal to get back this spring, but four or five games in, things just didn’t seem to be heading in that direction.
“We were playing all right, but just weren’t on all cylinders,” coach Cory White said. “It was a weird feel. We sat with the seniors individually and threw some expectations out at them. We said, ‘You guys are holding the wheel and you need to steer us in the right direction.’ ... They really took that and made the adjustments and the changes that needed to be made.”
Those adjustments landed Lynden back in the regional round on Saturday, May 21, and after beating defending state champion Centralia 8-1 in the first round, the Lions were just one win away from advancing to Yakima.
But the unfortunate thing about the format of the regional rounds is teams don’t get long to celebrate their successes, and Fife was more than willing to spoil Lynden’s celebration with a 2-1 loss in the state quarterfinals.
“We had to beat two good teams today,” White said. “We just didn’t quite get it done.”
The Trojans’ Jalen Cope, who two innings earlier demonstrably protested being called out on a bang-bang play at home plate, raced home from second base on Chase Anderson’s double to break a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning, and Cole Connolly scattered six hits over six strong innings to make the lead stand.
Lynden’s best chance to tie the game came in the sixth, when Trevin Hope’s and Anthony Garcia’s two-out singles and a walk by Dalton Ohligschlager loaded the bases, but a strikeout ended the threat.
“No regrets, no looking back,” White said. “We’d just love to get a chance to play ’em again.”
Mid-season move pays off
In addition to its early-season talk with the four seniors it listed on its state roster — Jordan Wittenberg, Ohligschlager, Garcia and Austin Jones — the Lynden coaching staff also decided to move Ohligschlager to left field from third base, where he was a two-year starter.
White said the move made an immediate impact, allowing the team to insert Jordan Holmstrom in the lineup, and it paid off in both games Saturday.
In the quarterfinal, Ohligschlager fired a dart to to catcher Cole Marlowe after catching a fly ball, and Marlowe was able to tag out Cope to keep the game tied 1-1 in the second.
First round domination
The Lions used their four hits, plus two Centralia errors, four walks and a wild pitch to push across six runs in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back in the first-round win earlier in the day.
Holmstrom’s bases-loaded double, which brought in all three runners, was the biggest hit of the rally.
Hope and his defense took care of the rest. Hope scattered seven hits and three walks and relied on the players behind him, who turned five double plays.
Lynden 8, Centralia 1
WP: Trevin Hope. LP: Christian Peters. Highlights: Centralia: Riley Christensen 2-2, R; Garrett Hicks 2-3. Lynden: Jordan Wittenberg 2-2, 3 R, SB, 2B; Marcos VanderVeen 2-4, 3 RBI; Jordan Holmstrom 2-3, R, 3 RBI, 2B.
Fife 2, Lynden 1
WP: Cole Connolly. LP: Anthony Garcia. S: Eli Graham. Highlights: Lynden: Jordan Wittenberg 1-3, R, 2B; Trevin Hope 2-3. Fife: Chase Anderson 1-1, 2 RBI, 2B, Eli Graham 1-3, R.