LONGVIEW — The Everett Community College baseball team needed only one win in two games Monday to earn its first Northwest Athletic Conference baseball championship since 2013.
The Trojans couldn’t get it done.
Lower Columbia College beat Everett 2-0 to win its third consecutive title and fourth in five seasons, and did so at its home park. Story Field, on the LCC campus, hosts the double-elimination tournament.
The winner-take-all championship game was required after Lower Columbia beat Everett 10-2 earlier Monday.
Everett coach JoJo Howie handed the ball to Gabe Smith for the championship game, despite the fact that the sophomore from Sumner had thrown a total of 82⁄3 innings all season, and never more than two in any one outing.
Smith responded by giving the Trojans (39-11) six innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs — one each in the fourth and sixth innings. He struck out one and didn’t walk a batter.
The Red Devils (40-9) countered with Justin Solt, a regular starter for Lower Columbia throughout the season. He was brilliant, allowing only one single in seven scoreless innings, striking out three and walking two. Even though Solt had only thrown 77 pitches to that point, he was lifted for Rance Pittman to start the eighth.
Pittman worked around a hit batsman to get through the eighth unscathed, while Howie turned to top starter Zach Boswell out of the bullpen to keep the game at 2-0.
Boswell worked three scoreless innings of relief Monday after throwing eight innings of one-run ball while matched up against Solt in the Trojans’ 2-1 win over Lower Columbia on Friday.
The freshman from Snohomish skirted danger in the top of the ninth, as Lower Columbia loaded the bases with two out. Boswell got an inning-ending groundout to give Everett a chance in its final at-bat.
After a groundout to start the inning, leadoff man Charlie Larson walked, and advanced to second on a double by Sam Linscott. But with one out and runners on second and third, Austin Hauck grounded out to first and Larson was doubled off third to end the game.
Everett beat Yakima Valley 5-2 on Thursday, Lower Columbia 2-1 on Friday, Tacoma 8-0 on Saturday and Spokane 11-6 on Sunday to get to Monday unbeaten.
In Monday’s first game, DeShawn Johnson went 4-for-5 with three doubles, three RBI and scored twice as the Red Devils blew open a 2-2 game with three runs in the bottom of the third inning and added runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh.
Linscott went 3-for-4 with two RBI for the Trojans, whose four pitchers allowed 14 hits and eight earned runs.
Mitch Lines pitched six innings of four-hit ball for Lower Columbia, and Alex Brady worked three scoreless innings to close out the Trojans and force the deciding game.
This marked the third time in the last four seasons that Everett has finished as the NWAC Tournament runner-up, alongside second-place finishes in 2016 and 2017.