EVERETT — The Arlington baseball team simply wasn’t ready for its dream season to end.
It took a comeback for the ages to keep it alive.
The Eagles mounted a stunning four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, then walked off in the ninth to punch their ticket to state with a 5-4 win over Meadowdale in the Class 3A Northwest District tournament third-place game Saturday afternoon at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“These kids have had an amazing season, and they weren’t ready to let it go,” Arlington coach Scott Striegel said. “They just wanted to continue to play.”
With runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth, Arlington senior Gavin Rork hit a one-out grounder up the middle. Meadowdale’s shortstop fielded it and stepped on second base for the inning’s second out, but then sailed a throw over the first baseman’s head while attempting to complete the double play.
Arlington senior Nicholas Ferreira sprinted around third to score the winning run, and the Eagles (22-2) poured out of the dugout to swarm Rork in celebration of the walk-off victory and the program’s third consecutive state berth.
FINAL: Arlington 5, Meadowdale 4 (9 innings)
Eagles walk off in the bottom of the ninth to complete an incredible comeback and advance to state. pic.twitter.com/AdsnqZcFbq
— Cameron Van Til (@CameronVanTil) May 12, 2018
Arlington will face Eastside Catholic (16-7) in a 3A state regional next Saturday at Sherman Anderson Field in Mount Vernon.
The Eagles reached the 3A state quarterfinals each of the previous two seasons. Prior to that, the program hadn’t advanced to state since 1994.
“To go three years in a row is obviously extremely tough,” Striegel said. “It says a ton about what our kids have done to improve this program.”
Earlier in the week, Arlington was riding a 19-game win streak. But after Tuesday’s district semifinal loss to Edmonds-Woodway and six scoreless innings Saturday against Meadowdale, the Eagles’ season was on the brink.
Entering the bottom of the seventh, Arlington trailed 4-0 and had managed just two hits off Mavericks starter Tommy Dimmock.
But the Eagles refused to go down.
“Even though we weren’t scoring runs, (our players) continued to battle,” Striegel said. “They didn’t put their heads down (and) say, ‘Well, this season’s over because there’s three outs to go.’ They said, ‘Let’s go win this ballgame.’”
Arlington junior Jack Sheward sparked the rally with a leadoff double off the center-field wall. Three batters later, Trevor Kazen drove in Sheward with a one-out single.
Then after Chase Lindsay drew a walk to load the bases, Ferreira beat out a softly hit grounder to trim Meadowdale’s lead to 4-2.
“We were aggressive and put the ball in play and made them make plays,” Striegel said. “And because of that, we were able to be in a situation (to) go win a ballgame.”
Andrew Smith, the ensuing batter, hit a grounder to third and reached base on an errant throw to make it 4-3. Rork then drew a one-out, full-count walk to bring home the tying run.
“We didn’t want this to be our last game,” Rork said. “So in the seventh inning, we just sat down and said, ‘We’ve got to go.’ … Everyone just focused up, and everyone was getting the job done. That was just a great, full-on team effort.”
Dimmock, a senior, allowed three earned runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings for the Mavericks. Meadowdale posted 13 hits, but committed four errors.
“We gave a good team (extra) outs in the bottom of the seventh, and you just can’t do that,” Mavericks coach Bill Hummel said. “That’s going to end up costing you.”