Arlington baseball team edged by Eastside Catholic in 3A state contest

MOUNT VERNON — The Eastside Catholic baseball team had to wait an entire year, but it exacted revenge on Arlington.

The Crusaders erased an early two-run deficit and went on to defeat the Eagles 6-5 in a loser-out Class 3A regional playoff game Saturday at Sherman Anderson Field.

The Crusaders victory avenged a 2-0 loss to Arlington in last year’s first-round regional contest at Skagit Valley College.

The Eagles, who were making their third consecutive 3A regional appearance, saw their season end at 21-3.

“We only have five seniors, but I give those seniors a ton of credit,” Arlington coach Scott Striegel said. “Baseball wasn’t real strong in Arlington for a handful of years, and this senior class made three trips in a row to the state tournament, and that’s a huge deal. I give those kids a ton of credit.”

Eastside Catholic junior Connor Niemann earned the win in relief of Will Armbruester, and drove in what proved the winning run with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the fifth inning to lead the Crusaders to the victory.

Arlington struck for two runs in the top of the first inning for the early 2-0 advantage against Armbruester.

However, Eastside Catholic tagged Arlington sophomore ace Owen Bishop for four runs in the bottom of the first. Nate Gelbrich’s two-out, three-run triple was the big hit in the inning.

“Unfortuately we gave up a few runs in the beginning,” Striegel said. “(Gelbrich) came up with a big clutch (hit) into the gap in that first inning. Give the kid credit — he looked for a fastball and hit it hard.”

Armbruester added to the lead with a solo homer in the third to increase the Crusaders’ lead to 5-2, but the Eagles scored three times in the top of the fifth thanks to two-run double by Michael Tsoukalas and a sac fly from Bishop.

Niemann’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the frame provided the difference as he retired the final seven Eagles hitters in order.

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