ARLINGTON — The stakes weren’t quite as high this time, but the drama certainly was there.
In their first meeting since last year’s 10-inning thriller in the Class 3A state quarterfinals, the Arlington and Edmonds-Woodway baseball teams engaged in another riveting clash Wednesday afternoon.
The Warriors began a wild seventh inning by scoring three runs on four pitches to take a 5-3 lead.
But the Eagles answered with a three-run rally of their own.
Cameron Smith capped a seesaw seventh inning with a walk-off two-run single, lifting Arlington to a thrilling 6-5 win over visiting Edmonds-Woodway in a Wesco 3A showdown.
“That’s just our team,” Smith said. “We all have each other’s backs.”
The victory avenged Arlington’s heartbreaking loss to Edmonds-Woodway in last year’s quarterfinals, when the Warriors prevailed 8-7 in extra innings to punch their ticket to Safeco Field for the semifinals. That was the second consecutive state quarterfinal loss for the Eagles, who were seeking their first-ever semifinal berth.
“This win meant so much to me,” said Arlington junior Jack Sheward, who scored the winning run in Wednesday’s rematch. He was on last year’s team with his older brother, Tristan, whose high school career ended with the quarterfinal loss to the Warriors.
“Not only did we beat Edmonds-Woodway, but I felt like (we) won the game for (last year’s seniors),” Sheward said. “I just wish my brother was here to see it. It meant a lot to us.”
Trailing 5-3 with one out in the bottom of the seventh, senior Gavin Rork kickstarted Arlington’s rally with a bunt single and advanced to third after the pitcher’s throw sailed past the first baseman and into right field.
Michael Tsoukalas, a freshman, followed with a hard-hit infield single to score Rork and make it a one-run game.
Then after Sheward lined a double into left field to put runners on second and third, Edmonds-Woodway intentionally walked Owen Bishop to load the bases.
Smith then lofted the walk-off single over the shortstop’s head and into shallow left field to score the tying and winning runs.
Sheward, who scored the winning run from second, rounded third hard before briefly losing his balance while trying to stop and head back to the bag. After a split-second of hesitation, he sprinted home and slid around the catcher’s tag.
“(I) thought we were in trouble, but Jack has good speed,” Arlington coach Scott Striegel said. “He’s a good, athletic kid and was able to beat the throw and get around (the tag).”
The Eagles then converged on home plate for a spirited celebration.
“It was a lot of happiness, because the game in the playoffs last year was a big loss for us,” Smith said. “(Edmonds-Woodway) was the only team that we couldn’t beat last year. And so this was … just a good feeling.”
Arlington led 3-2 in the top of the seventh, but Edmonds-Woodway quickly surged in front with a three-run rally.
With runners on the corners and one out, the Warriors missed a bunt on an attempted safety-squeeze play. With Edmonds-Woodway runner Ian Michael well off the third-base bag, Arlington’s catcher attempted to throw him out. But the throw sailed into left field, allowing Michael to score the tying run.
Two pitches later, Jalil Marinez lined a go-ahead double into the right-center field gap to give the Warriors a 4-3 lead. The ensuing pitch bounced in the dirt and ricocheted away from the catcher, allowing the speedy Marinez to score from second base for a 5-3 lead.
But Arlington refused to cave.
“Both teams competed until the end,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Dan Somoza said. “Arlington is a really good team. We thought we had them, and they pulled it out on us. It’s early in the year, so we’ll learn from it and go from there.”
Bishop allowed three earned runs and scattered six hits in 6 1/3 innings pitched for the Eagles (4-1 overall, 4-0 Wesco 3A). The sophomore struck out six batters and walked two.
“He was a man on a mission,” Striegel said. “He was pounding the strike zone, working ahead in the count. Everything you ask every pitcher to do, he was doing it. He changes speeds real well and has that bulldog mentality.”
Edmonds-Woodway senior Julian Kodama allowed one earned run and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched.
Arlington jumped to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Rork doubled and came around to score for the game’s first run. Sheward then hit a grounder to third that turned into a Little League home run on a pair of Edmonds-Woodway errors.
After the Warriors (2-3, 1-1) scored in the second and fifth innings to tie the game at 2-2, Bishop grounded a two-out single up the middle in the bottom of the fifth to score the go-ahead run.
That remained the score until the dramatic seventh inning.
“I’m still tired from that epic game last year,” Somoza said. “(Arlington) is a great team and we enjoy playing them. … It always turns out to be a really good game.”
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