EVERETT — Eyler Anderson sparked the Everett baseball team’s sixth-inning outburst with a go-ahead squeeze bunt.
Aaron Robertson provided the knockout punch soon after, clobbering a three-run triple to break things wide-open.
Using a mix of small ball and heavy hitting, the Seagulls continued their breakthrough season with a milestone victory.
And now, the long-struggling Everett baseball program is on the doorstep of its first state berth in nearly a quarter-century.
The Seagulls exploded for a six-run sixth inning and earned their first postseason win in nine years with an 8-4 victory over Meadowdale in a Class 3A Northwest District Tournament quarterfinal Saturday at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“They expect to win, and that’s (a) big thing,” Seagulls coach Alex Barashkoff said. “In the previous years, I don’t think they expected to win, but they would’ve been highly disappointed if they would’ve lost today. … That makes my job a lot easier when kids expect to win — not just want to win, (but) expect to win.”
The victory advanced Everett (16-5) to Tuesday’s district semifinals, where the Seagulls will face Edmonds-Woodway (13-8) at 6 p.m. at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium. With a win, the Seagulls would secure their first state tournament berth since 1995.
“It feels great,” Robertson said of Saturday’s milestone postseason victory. “Honestly, I’ve been kind of dreaming about this for a while now, especially for the seniors. Everyone here on this team wants it, and we showed it today and we deserved it.”
With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Everett’s Nick Mardesich led off with a high-arcing double to left field. Jonathan Murphy followed with an infield hit, and later stole second to put a pair of runners in scoring position.
That set the stage for the pivotal squeeze bunt, one of baseball’s most exciting — and riskiest — plays.
The Seagulls had only begun practicing the do-or-die play earlier this week. But with the go-ahead run 90 feet away, Barashkoff gave No. 9-hitting Anderson the sign.
“My heart was beating fast,” Anderson said. “I didn’t want to be the guy that went up to bunt and missed it and got my teammate out. But I just stayed right in the box, laid it down and it worked out.”
With courtesy runner Corbin Weitenhagen sprinting home on the pitch, Anderson laid a well-placed bunt down the third-base line. Weitenhagen, who was nearly all the way home by the time Meadowdale’s pitcher fielded the ball, scored easily to give Everett a 3-2 lead.
“The squeeze was huge momentum,” Barashkoff said. “… That kind of opened the floodgates there.”
Meadowdale’s pitchers then combined to hit three consecutive batters, bringing home another run for the Seagulls.
The cleanup-hitting Robertson followed with the dagger, launching a bases-clearing triple over the center fielder’s head to make it 7-2. Robertson then scored on a balk to give Everett a six-run cushion heading into the final frame.
Robertson finished 2-for-3 and drove in four runs on a triple and a double. The hard-hitting lefty junior is batting .426 this season with 12 doubles and a triple.
“He’s had such a great season,” Anderson said. “That (triple) was a shot. Every time he comes up there, we always expect a base hit out of him. He’s been playing great all year.”
Mardesich started on the mound for Everett and pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and seven hits.
It was the eighth consecutive victory for the Seagulls, who are enjoying their first winning season in more than a decade. Everett has won 11 of its last 12 games and is 14-2 since being swept by unbeaten Arlington at the start of league play.
“A lot of people didn’t really expect us to be that good,” Anderson said. “We brought up a lot of guys from JV, so we weren’t expected to do much, but it’s just wild. We’ve had a great season. It’s been fun.”
Mason Vaughn went 3-for-4 for Meadowdale, which dropped to the loser’s bracket with the loss. The Mavericks (11-10) will host Lynnwood (10-12) in a loser-out game at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Meadowdale needs two consecutive wins to earn its first state berth since 2013.
“It didn’t go our way at the end,” Mavericks coach Bill Hummel said. “They’re good. I’m impressed with (Everett’s) ballclub. They really swing it well. … It’s about survive and advance at this point.”