By David Krueger Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — Better late than never.
It took seven and two-thirds innings for the Lake Stevens baseball team to get on the scoreboard, but the Vikings scored a pair of runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to complete a 2-1 victory over Marysville Pilchuck Tuesday night in their first game of the season.
“What I’m really, really proud of is we had a chance,” Lake Stevens head coach Rodger Anderson said. “It’s the bottom of the eighth, two outs, it’s cold and it would have been easy to just roll over. And they didn’t.”
Trailing by a run, Lake Stevens’ first two batters were taken care of by the Marysville Pilchuck defense. Then Jack Collins started the Vikings’ rally with a walk. Branden Kelliher followed that with the first of three-consecutive singles, including one by Cody Vigoren that scored Collins and tied the score 1-1.
“I was thinking, ‘What better guy to have at the plate?’” Anderson said of Vigoren. “You’ve got a guy that just won a state championship (at 195 pounds) in wrestling. It’s not going to faze him. I’m thinking we’re in perfect shape.”
After Vigoren’s RBI single, Taylor Shea was the next Lake Stevens batter to the plate. Shea hit a hard groundball into the hole at shortstop.
The Tomahawks’ defender slid over to get a glove on the ball, but didn’t have a play as Kelliher crossed the plate for the game-winning run, triggering the Vikings’ celebration.
“I was actually more excited,” Shea said of going to the plate with the game on the line. “I didn’t really feel a lot of pressure. … I just tried to stay cool and calm under pressure. It worked out. I play for those pressure situations and moments. That’s what it’s all about.”
Anderson was proud of his team’s resilience late in the game after surrendering the lead to Marysville Pilchuck in the top half of the eighth inning.
“I was just hoping that we can put the ball in play and make something happen,” Anderson said. “That’s the character right there coming out on this team. That’s why I think this team’s pretty special.”
The Vikings’ coach was especially pleased with Shea, who he said had some offensive struggles last season. Anderson is happy to see Shea get his senior year off to a great start with a game-winning hit.
“I’m really happy for Taylor Shea because he struggled last year at the plate,” Anderson said. “… He worked really hard in the offseason. He spent a lot of time in the cage and it paid off right there. That’s what hard work does for you.”
The Vikings had to come from behind thanks to a big hit by Landon Riker in the top-half of the eighth. Marysville Pilchuck, which had been held without a hit in the first seven innings, got a leadoff single by Andrew Alvis to start the extra inning. After a sacrifice bunt, Riker hit an RBI double to score the game’s first run and give the Tomahawks the lead.
“Morale kind of took a hit there,” Shea said. “But as a couple runners got on, it kind of picked back up, especially when that one run scored. Something kind of clicked and we knew that we were going to win it and pull it out.”
At the start of the bottom of the eighth, it looked like that lead might hold after a groundout and a foul out got Lake Stevens down to its final out. But that’s when the rally began and the Vikings knocked off their former division rival.
“We’ve had this rivalry when we were both in the same league. I don’t know how many seasons it came down to us and Marysville Pilchuck in a league championship game, or district championship,” Anderson said. “We’ve played a lot of big games. It’s really fun to keep this rivalry alive. They’re a very, very good team.”
Nick Hoskins pitched the final two innings to earn the win for the Vikings (1-0 overall), who made it to the first round of the 4A state tournament last season. Kelliher and Shea also pitched in the game for Lake Stevens.
“You don’t see very many playoff games that are that clean, and for the first game of the season … both teams were great,” Anderson said. “That was a fun high school game to watch. People definitely got their money’s worth today.”
At Lake Stevens H.S.
Marysville Pilchuck 000 000 01 – 1 2 1
Lake Stevens 000 000 02 – 2 9 0
Cody Anderson, Alex Gray (4), Colin Holeman (7) and Ben Northrup. Branden Kelliher, Taylor Shea (4), Nick Hoskins (7) and Matt Delfante, Cody Vigoren (5). WP–Hoskins (1-0). LP–Holeman (0-1). 2B–Landon Riker (MP). Records–Marysville Pilchuck 0-1 overall. Lake Stevens 1-0.