Everett players celebrate their victory over Shorewood in the 3A District 1 Tournament championship game on May 11, 2019, at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium. The Seagulls won 6-0. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Everett players celebrate their victory over Shorewood in the 3A District 1 Tournament championship game on May 11, 2019, at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium. The Seagulls won 6-0. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Everett claims district baseball title

Nick Mardesich tosses a shutout in the Seagulls’ 6-0 win over Shorewood.

EVERETT—As members of the Everett baseball team congregated around the visitors dugout at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium on Saturday, senior left fielder Tyler Bates bellowed out a question, mostly in jest: “Who’s down to camp on the field tonight?”

As absurd of a proposition as that is, it prompted the response, “Actually?” among teammates.

Although there almost certainly wasn’t baseball players in tents on the turf at Funko Field on Saturday night, the Seagulls soaked in the moment the best they could after fourth-seeded Everett blanked third-seeded Shorewood, 6-0, to claim the 3A District 1 Tournament championship.

“Oh man, it was amazing,” senior pitcher Nick Mardesich said after second baseman Jonathan Murphy caught the final out, a shallow popup to right field. “I don’t even know how to explain it. I don’t know how words can describe that. (There were) butterflies in my stomach. It was crazy.”

Mardesich was on the mound for the Seagulls in one of the program’s biggest games in decades and he tossed a gem, a seven-hit shutout with four strikeouts and two walks.

Everett head coach Alex Barashkoff quipped that he rarely thinks of getting anyone up in the bullpen to warm up in Mardesich’s starts because he’s so adept at managing his pitch count. He executed that exceptionally well on Saturday, attacking the strike zone and effectively pitching to contact to go the distance.

“His offspeed was great,” Barashkoff said. “He’s a warrior. He wanted that game bad and he said he wanted to go the whole way.

“That helps keep his pitch count down so he can go complete games. We don’t really want him to strike people out, we want fly outs, ground outs in the bottom of the order so he can keep his pitch count down. These pitchers who strike a bunch of people out don’t last until the fifth inning because they’re out of pitches and they have to come out.”

There was no emotional letdown for Everett after a convincing 7-3 win over top-seeded Edmonds-Woodway on Tuesday to clinch the program’s first state berth since 1995. The Seagulls plated three runs in the first inning to provide Mardesich some run support early on.

The Seagulls did all of their damage with two outs in the first, as senior center fielder Ryan Tebatebai reached with a single to left field, then cleanup hitter Aaron Robertson followed with a two-out single to put runners on the corners for Casen Taggart, who poked a single through the left side of the infield to put the Seagulls up 1-0.

Mardesich followed by working a walk to load the bases, then Jonathan Murphy and Derek Soulier were hit by pitches to send two more runs across for the Seagulls.

The early lead helped Mardesich settle in.

“When you’re pitching with the lead, you can just go right at ‘em,” Mardesich said. “I felt real confident just trying to attack the zone and knowing that my defense was going to be there.”

Everett eventually plated three insurance runs in the seventh on Tebatebai’s RBI single and Caden Lockhart’s two-run double, plenty for Mardesich to work with.

The Seagulls enter the 3A state tournament as the No. 1 seed out of District 1. They’ll take on Skyview, the No. 5 seed out of the West Central/Southwest bi-district, at 1 p.m. next Saturday at Sherman Anderson field in Mount Vernon.

The Thunderbirds, the No. 2 seed into districts, will face Ingraham, the No. 3 seed out of District 2, at 10 a.m. next Saturday at either Curtis High School or Propstra Field in Vancouver.

Shorewood, which handed Arlington its first loss of the season four days prior in the district semifinals with help from deceptive southpaw Kenji Miller, was forced to use Miller on short rest early in the game after starting pitcher Bryce Lindberg lost control late in the first. The plan was for Lindberg to pitch one time through the order, then bring in Miller for a time around the order before Lindberg re-entered the game late, in order to provide a different look for Everett’s hitters.

Ultimately, the Thunderbirds recorded seven hits, but couldn’t find any timely hits to keep the game competitive.

“I told (my kids), we have to stop driving automatics and start driving clutch, so we can start coming up with some clutch hits,” Shorewood head coach Wyatt Tonkin said. “We just couldn’t put two or three together in a row, but give credit where credit is due, (Mardesich) threw a heckuva a game to us. He made his pitches when he needed to came with a nice rollover groundball.”

Minutes after the final out, former players began to funnel down to the field, shaking Barashkoff’s hand and congratulating him. He deflected the praise to the players, gleefully passing along the district championship trophy.

For the Seagulls, it’s not only a symbol for a championship, but unquestioned progress that’s helped turn around the program.

“We haven’t been this far in too long and having to work all four years, just working our butts off and finally it paying off our senior year, it’s great,” Mardesich said.

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