By David Rasbach The Bellingham Herald
ANACORTES — Despite cobbling together just three hits, the Archbishop Murphy baseball team overcame a gritty pitching performance by Sehome’s Josh Zavisubin to beat the Mariners 3-2 on Tuesday in the semifinals of the Class 2A District 1/2 Tournament at Daniels Field.
With the win, the Wildcats advance to play Sedro-Woolley in Saturday’s championship game with a state berth already in hand. Sehome drops into the consolation bracket and faces Granite Falls in an 11 a.m. loser-out game on Saturday. The winner of that game will play the winner of Lynden-Lake Washington later in the day for the district’s final state berth.
Archbishop Murphy (20-2), which lost in the district semifinals last year, is just happy to avoid that mess, especially in a year only three teams move on from the district.
“Winning this year and not having to go through the back door, especially with the three berths, is really refreshing and rewarding,” Murphy coach Stan Taloff said. “We felt this was the biggest game we’ve had all year to this point. Our guys came out and battled. Sehome will battle you right to the end. They are so well coached. They got guys that play with heart.”
That heart looked like it might be enough early on.
Sehome grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Jacob Manson and Tyler Knutsen hit back-to-back doubles. Daniel Goebel reached on an error and stole second, but he and Knutsen were stranded in scoring position.
Even though it didn’t turn into a big inning, it still gave Zavisubin the shot in the arm he needed to retire the first eight batters he saw. After he walked Matthew Buerger with two outs in the third, catcher Forrest Longanecker was able to end the inning by catching Buerger off first base on a pick off.
But the Wildcats finally got to Zavisubin in the fourth, when Casey Dawes picked up a one-out single and Alex Galgano followed with a walk. Both scored on Derrick Mahlum’s single back up the middle.
Sehome responded in the bottom of the fifth, when Forrest Longanecker turned a leadoff walk into a run on a ground ball hit by Jake Albert to knot the score at 2.
“(Alexander Clouse) didn’t have his best stuff today, but he gutted through it, and we got the hits we needed to help him out,” Taloff said.
That big hit came in the form of a leadoff single from Dawes, who went 2 for 3. Camden Buchanan, Mahlum and Phillip Michael Feliciano did the rest by not moving the bats off their shoulders, as they drew three straight two-out walks to force in Dawes with what proved to be the winning run.
Sehome had a shot to tie it up in the seventh, when Zavisubin ripped a one-out double into right-center field, but Clouse responded by picking up his eighth and final strikeout of the day.
Taloff then visited him on the mound to discuss the potential final out.
“Basically that he needs to concentrate on every pitch and worry about the guy in front of him and not on anybody that is back behind,” Taloff said of the conversation on the mound. “Those guys are going to do what they’re going to do, but you’ve got to work the batter. We want to make sure we don’t give them anything for free.”
Clouse didn’t, as two pitches later, he got Manson to ground out to third base to end the game.
“Doggone we just let them off the hook,” Hatch said. “I thought our kids did a great job, but we missed some opportunities.”
At Daniels Field
Sehome 100 010 0—2 6 2
Archbishop Murphy 000 201 x—3 3 2
Josh Zavisubin and not reported. Alexander Clouse and Alex Galgano. WP—Clouse. LP—Zavisubin. 2B—Zavisubin (S), Jacob Manson (S), Tyler Knutsen (S). Records—Sehome 16-6 overall. Archbishop Murphy 20-2.