By Aaron Swaney Herald Writer
STANWOOD — Every day at practice, hitters for the Stanwood baseball team practice what they call game-winners.
That extra work came in handy on Friday.
With score tied and one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Stanwood outfielder Henry Hedeen smacked a line drive to center field to score Drew McDonald from second base and give the Spartans a 2-1 win over rival Marysville Pilchuck and keep their hopes alive for at least a share of the Wesco 3A North title.
“End of (batting practice) we’re going to get our game-winners in and these kids work extremely hard at that line drive, line drive, line drive,” said Stanwood head coach Colby Knudson. “Just a hard hit ball somewhere.”
The win was Stanwood’s second straight extra-innings victory over Marysville Pilchuck — both by the score of 2-1 — and gives the Spartans the three-game series. It also means Stanwood earns the tiebreaker and will be the Wesco 3A North No. 1 seed if the two teams finish tied atop the league standings at the end of the season.
To finish tied, Stanwood (11-4 league, 13-5 overall) would have to sweep its final two games against Meadowdale and Shorecrest and Marysville Pilchuck (13-2, 15-3) would have to lose its final two against Glacier Peak and Shorewood.
Knudson is just glad his team rebounded after being no-hit and blitzed in the series opener on Tuesday. MP’s Cody Anderson struck out 17 in a complete-game no-hitter as the Tommies won 14-0.
“That’s a phenomenal baseball team over there,” Knudson said of MP. “They’re top of the league for a reason. It’s a great honor to be able to go out there and battle for a win over them.
“This was a district atmosphere today.”
After MP scored a run in the fifth to tie the score at 1, the two teams traded zeroes in the next two innings to send the game into extras for the second straight game. Stanwood starter Doug Knight, who is headed to Skagit Valley College next season, got the Tomahawks on three straight groundouts in the top half of the inning to send Stanwood back up with a chance to win.
Since giving up a pair of hits in Stanwood’s one-run third inning, Marysville Pilchuck starter Collin Holeman was unhittable, limiting the Spartans to one baserunner — on a walk — in four innings. But Spartans second baseman Drew McDonald led off the eighth with his second infield single of the game and was moved over to second on a nicely placed bunt by Connor Chitwood, bringing up Hedeen.
The Westmont College recruit hit a 1-0 pitch over the second baseman’s head and under the glove of a diving outfielder. The subsequent throw home wasn’t in time to get a sliding McDonald, who jumped up to celebrate with his teammates as they rushed him at home plate.
“We were thinking small ball; whatever we can do to get a run across,” Knudson said of his team’s mindset entering the eighth inning. “Connor Chitwood is one of our better bunters. I knew he was going to get the ball on the ground no questions asked.”
McDonald and Chitwood combined on the Stanwood’s first run of the game in the same fashion, with McDonald leading off the third with an infield single and Chitwood bunting him over to second. Tyler Givens was the hammer in the third, crushing a double to deep left field to score McDonald and give Stanwood a 1-0 lead.
Knight, who improved to 3-0 on the season, was solid on the mound for Stanwood, dancing around danger for most of the game but getting outs when he needed them. Knight allowed baserunners in the second and third, but got double plays to snuff out any ideas of a rally. In the fourth, Knight loaded the bases with a pair of walks, but the senior right-hander got MP’s Anderson to fly out to deep center to end the inning.
“Doug puts his head down and he battles through things,” Knudson said. “He just works hard and does the right things to get himself in a situation to be successful against guys like (MP).”
The Tomahawks scored their lone run in the fifth. with one out, catcher Ben Northrup hit a hard shot up the middle for a single. After a groundout by Jared Wade moved Northrup to second, MP outfielder Landon Riker crushed a double to score Northrup and knot the score at 1.
At Stanwood H.S.
Doug Knight and Maverick Larkin. Collin Holeman and Ben Northrup. WP—Knight (3-0). LP—Holeman (2-2). 2B—Tyler Givens (S), Landon Riker (MP). Records—Marysville Pilchuck 13-2 league, 15-3 overall. Stanwood 11-4, 13-5.