But the second half of the equation is timely hitting, and that's where the Mavericks came up short in the Class 3A District 1 championship baseball game.
Despite having base runners in five of seven innings against Ferndale, and getting two or more runners aboard in four innings, Meadowdale hitters could never deliver a clutch run-scoring hit. The result was a disappointing 3-1 loss to the Golden Eagles at Meridian Park.
Meadowdale, which reached the title game with earlier district wins against Marysville Pilchuck and Glacier Peak, scored its only run in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly by Chris Tanner.
"When you have No. 1 pitchers going, you're not going to get too many opportunities," said Mavericks coach Bill Hummel. "When (Ferndale) had opportunities to score, they took advantage of them. But we just didn't take advantage of our opportunities.
"Late in the year, when you're playing for a district championship and in the state tournament, you're not going to get many chances, so you just have to take advantage of them. They did today and we didn't."
Case in point, Meadowdale had a runner at third with one out in the first, and later had runners at the corners with two outs, but failed to score. In the second the Mavericks twice put runners at third base, but again failed to score (the first runner was retired on a fielder's choice rundown). And in the fourth they loaded the bases with one out, but ended up with just one run.
Even in the final inning, Meadowdale had two runners on base with two outs. Clean-up hitter Garrett Walsh gave his teammates a moment of hope with a long fly ball to right field, but it came down just short of the warning track for the game's final out.
The offensive struggles wasted a strong performance from starting pitcher Elliott Reece, a right-handed sophomore. He gave up three runs (two earned) in six innings with seven hits, two walks and a strikeout.
"He absolutely pitched well enough to win," Hummel said. "I'm very proud of him."
The good news for Meadowdale is that Saturday's game was strictly for a district trophy and for seedings in the upcoming state tournament. The young Mavericks -- they started two juniors and four sophomores on Saturday -- already knew they were going to advance, win or lose.
And as they prepare to take on the District 3/4 No. 2 seed in next Saturday's state opener, Hummel knows no one will be in awe of his squad. Reason being, the Mavericks have an 11-12 season record, the result of a mid-season losing streak of seven games.
"We're a team with a losing record going to the state tournament," he said with a smile, "so maybe people are going to look past us. But I think that's going to be to our advantage. So let's go jump up and bite somebody."
Even at the district tournament, he pointed out, "nobody expected us to do anything except us. We just got the kids to believe that they could accomplish this and that they could get it done. And they did."
At Meridian Park Fields
Meadowdale 000 100 0--1 5 1
Ferndale 101 010 x--3 7 0
Elliott Reece and Brian Marty. Brady Bauthues and Brady Shearer. WP--Bauthues. LP--Reece. 2B--Parker Coffey (M), Marshall Weston (F). Records--Meadowdale 11-12 overall. Ferndale 16-7.
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