By David Pan Weekly Herald sports editor
EVERETT — The Edmonds-Woodway baseball team never gives up.
Not even when trailing by four runs in the seventh inning against the No. 2 ranked team in the state.
The Warriors rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh inning to tie the score but then saw Lake Stevens push across the winning run in the bottom of the inning as the Vikings pulled out a 5-4 victory in the 4A District 1 championship game May 10 at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Both teams already had qualified for this week’s state tournament. Edmonds-Woodway (17-6) faces Kentwood 10 a.m., May 18 at Kent Memorial Park. If the Warriors win, they would play again at 4 p.m. in a quarterfinal contest.
Despite coming out on the losing end of Thursday’s game, Edmonds-Woodway coach Dan Somoza and his players seemed to be energized by their performance.
“This team never gives up,” Somoza said. “That’s one thing I love about my team. We have a great coaching staff that preaches ‘play hard all seven innings.’ These guys played hard all seven innings. Lake Stevens is a great team. I thought we had a chance. It was just a fun ball game. We just came up a little short today.”
Edmonds-Woodway pitcher Jorgen Arneson kept the potent Lake Stevens lineup largely in check, allowing only two runs, before being relieved by Ryan Budnick in the fifth inning.
Lake Stevens had scored 31 runs against Kamiak and Jackson in its two previous district contests.
“He was awesome,” Somoza said of Arneson. “He stuck to our game plan. He mixed his pitches well, I thought. He really held them back. … They’re a tough lineup.”
Lake Stevens added two more runs in the sixth to take a 4-0 advantage in the seventh. Viking starter Jake Nelson allowed only one hit in five innings of work. He was replaced by Brandon Kelliher in the sixth. Kelliher struggled and eventually was replaced by Kevin Lanto, who had a strikeout to end the inning with the bases loaded with Warriors.
It was the second time in the game that Edmonds-Woodway had the bases loaded but did not score.
“To win close games like this, you’ve got to get that extra two-out hit,” Somoza said.
In the top of the seventh, the Warriors regrouped and dismissed the frustration of not scoring any runs in the sixth.
“We just wanted to mash,” Arneson said. “We wanted to come up swinging. We weren’t going to go down without scoring. We needed to put up some runs.”
Edmonds-Woodway’s Mac McLachlan started off the inning by getting hit by a pitch. He moved to second on a wild pitch and then scored when a throw got past the Lake Stevens first baseman on a deep single to the shortstop by Tate Budnick.
After a strikeout, Edmonds-Woodway’s Alex Hull singled to right field to drive in the second run. Ryan Budnick then walked. Both runners moved up on a base during a ground out.
Arneson then stepped to the plate with two outs and the game in the balance.
“I was just looking for my pitch to hit,” he said. “I knew I needed to come up clutch with the hit. I got my pitch and I put it where I wanted it to go.”
Arneson smacked the ball deep in the outfield for a two-run double to tie the score at 4 and in the process he sent the Edmonds-Woodway crowd into a frenzy.
Lanto finally halted the Warriors’ rally with a strikeout to end the inning.
After the leadoff hitter was retired, Lake Stevens’ Christian Shouman hit a double and as he rounded second base he collided with an Edmonds-Woodway infielder.
The umpire rule interference and sent Shouman to third base over the protests of the Edmonds-Woodway coaching staff.
“The interference call I don’t understand,” Somoza said. “The guy wasn’t going to third and he barely hit our guy. He was two feet off the base. They did (make the call). Life moves on.”
Christian Gaska followed with a single to center field to score Shouman and give the Vikings’ the victory.
Edmonds-Woodway heads into the state tournament confident despite the loss.
“We’re capable of winning state,” Arneson said. “No doubt. If we keep up that intensity the same as the last inning, we can win state no matter who we play.”