The Mavericks earned a berth in the state tournament and the 3A District 1 championship game with a 4-3 victory over Glacier Peak on Tuesday.
Meadowdale entered district playoffs with a sub-500 record after losing nine of its past 11 games. But after two games in districts, the Mavericks have defeated the No. 1 seed from the Wesco North and the No. 2 seed from the Wesco South to even their overall record at 11-11. The Mavericks will make their sixth appearance in the district championship game in the last seven years on Saturday.
"When we are good we are very good and we can beat anybody," Meadowdale head coach Bill Hummel said. "When we get solid pitching and we execute our offense, we can play with anybody. When we don't get those things it is awfully hard to win."
Hummel said his team came into the tournament loose even though they were the lowest seed from the Wesco South.
"We kind of approached these two games as having nothing to lose," Hummel said. "There is just no pressure on us. We are a four seed coming into this tournament, nobody expects us to do anything. The pressure is all on the other side of the dugout. We just have to go do what we do best -- hit the ball and go play."
The Meadowdale offense gave its starting pitcher Moises Valadez a lift right away, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. The leadoff batter, Tyler McGuire, scored the game's first run on a throwing error by Glacier Peak catcher Mitch Pohrman after stealing third base. Two batters later catcher Brian Marty scored on an infield single by Ryan White to give the Mavericks a 2-0 heading into the bottom of the first.
The score remained 2-0 until the bottom of the third inning when the Grizzlies finally got on the board. First baseman Chris Watkins walked to lead off the inning and Pohrman followed up with a single to right field. Shortstop Branson Barnecut earned the Grizzlies' second walk of the inning to load the bases with nobody out. Watkins and Marcos Baruch, the pinch runner for Pohrman, would later score on a single by Austin Hines to tie the score at 2-2 after three innings.
Valadez pitched four innings, giving up three hits, walking three and striking out one.
"Moises gave us a gutsy effort," Hummel said. "I was really pleased with how well he competed tonight. He had some outings earlier in the year where he really didn't compete very well and so that was kind of a hurdle he needed to cross."
The Mavericks regained the lead in the top of the sixth inning. With one out, designated hitter Parker Coffey singled to center field. Hummel sent Justin Ridley in the game to run for Coffey and the next batter, Collin Costello, walked to give the Mavericks runners on first and second with one out. Moments later, Ridley and Costello advanced on a double steal. Ridley was called safe at third after a Pohrman throw -- the Grizzlies contested the call to no avail. Ridley crossed the plate without another pitch being thrown when Glacier Peak starting pitcher Mitch Eatmon was called for a balk. Costello scored on an RBI single by Phil Thomas to give the Mavericks at 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning.
Thomas finished 2-for-2 with an RBI for Meadowdale.
Glacier Peak threatened in the bottom of the seventh inning, getting runners on second and third with just one out. Second baseman Ty Deckwa scored on an infield single by Barnecut to cut the deficit to one run, but on the same play Watkins was picked off at second base. It appeared he had contemplated going to third, but then attempted to retreat to second. Two batters later, third baseman Tanner Braun grounded out to first base to end the game.
Costello picked up the save for the Mavericks.
The Mavericks might have lost nine of their past 11 regular-season games, but they proved they were still a threat with the two wins during that streak, handing Shorewood back-to-back defeats after losing seven in a row. They were the Thunderbirds only losses of the season.
"You really try to focus on what's in front of you," Hummel said. "In each of those seven losses we were in every game. They weren't 12-2 or 15-0. We were in every game and had opportunities to win lots of those ballgames. It's just a factor of having a young team. Young teams have a hard time figuring out how to win games. I think we have kind of crossed that hump and we found a formula that we can win.
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Meridian Park Fields
Meadowdale 200 0002 0--4 7 0
Glacier Peak 002 000 1--3 7 2
Justin Ridley, Reid Naughtin (5), Chace Diamond (6), Collin Costello (7) and Brian Marty. Mitch Eatmon, Christian Jarnagin (7) and Mitch Pohrman. WP – Diamond. LP – Eatmon. Records – Meadowdale 11-11, Glacier Peak 16-6.
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