SEATTLE — The grass was perfectly manicured, the dirt meticulously raked and the chalk lines exquisitely precise.
The massive center-field video board offered novelties — such as instant replay, a dance cam and the popular hydroplane race — that went far beyond the typical high school baseball experience.
But for the Edmonds-Woodway baseball team, it was the cavernous backdrop of 47,000-plus seats that stood out the most while playing Sunday afternoon at T-Mobile Park.
“You’re just kind of in awe,” Warriors senior Ian Michael said of playing in the major-league stadium formerly known as Safeco Field. “The biggest thing is that everything just looked so much bigger, because the stadium is so big. There’s just no words when you walk out.”
The opportunity to play in the Seattle Mariners’ home ballpark was a rare and special experience in itself.
And to cap it by winning in walk-off fashion? That was the cherry on top to an afternoon surely none of Edmonds-Woodway’s players will soon forget.
Dominic Farley scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Warriors a 4-3 walk-off win over Mount Si in a non-league contest at T-Mobile Park.
“You grow up watching the Mariners, and to have a chance to play on the same field that they are is pretty special,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Dan Somoza said. “And then to win on a walk-off, … it was a lot of fun.”
The game was part of the 13th annual High School Baseball Classic, which provides a select number of prep baseball teams the chance to play at the Mariners’ ballpark during the spring.
Somoza said the Warriors were on a waiting list for several years before finding out last summer they’d been selected to play in the event this season. As part of the agreement, participating teams sell tickets to a certain Mariners home game.
“We put in a lot of work with the fundraising stuff just to get here, so I think that kind of made it so much better because of all the work that went into getting us here,” Michael said. “And then just the experience playing at a big-league ballpark was amazing. … You kind of get a glimpse of what MLB guys see every day.”
For the handful of remaining players who were part of Edmonds-Woodway’s 2017 state semifinal team, this was their third time playing in the Mariners’ ballpark. During the final two rounds of the Class 3A state tournament two years ago, the Warriors played a semifinal game and a third-place contest at what was then Safeco Field.
Yet for those playing there for the first time, Somoza said the sheer size of the stadium was a bit intimidating at first.
“They were in awe,” he said. “… They had big eyes.”
“It’s just such a huge field,” said Edmonds-Woodway senior Tommy Oda, who had two of the Warriors’ four hits. “I think everybody, when we first went on the field, it was a little nerve-wracking just how big it was. But at the end of the day, it’s still a baseball field. So after a couple innings, we settled in.”
With it being a non-league game, Somoza substituted early and often to get every Edmonds-Woodway player an at-bat and playing time in the field. The Warriors (3-6) used six different pitchers over the seven innings.
“To have this experience where everybody gets to be a part of it, I think is really important,” he said. “It really was a team win today. It was just really cool to see the bench guys that haven’t played a lot really get in and contribute to this game. … It was a giant jigsaw puzzle, but we did it.”
Edmonds-Woodway fell into an early 3-0 deficit, but responded with three runs in the bottom of the second inning — all with two outs. The two-out rally was kickstarted by a pair of hit batters and a Karsen Tjarneberg single. The Warriors then scored two runs on a throwing error by Mount Si (4-7), and another on a first-and-third steal play to tie the game at 3-3.
That remained the score until the bottom of the seventh, when Farley led off with a soft one-hop liner that took a tricky bounce past Mount Si’s second baseman. Farley then stole second and took third on a wild pitch before sprinting home on another wild pitch for the winning run.
After crossing home plate, the Edmonds-Woodway sophomore was mobbed by his teammates as they celebrated the walk-off victory.
“I just saw it go past (the catcher) and ran hard and got there,” Farley said. “… It was crazy. To come into the game, be able to get a chance to hit, get on base in the last inning and then get a chance to score for the winning run, it felt good — really good.”
It’s been a difficult start to the season for the Warriors, who reached the 3A state semifinals each of the past two seasons. But they’re hoping this victory will provide a spark.
“We’re hoping this will kickstart a new trend for us,” Somoza said. “Any little thing we can do to get us going again.
“More than anything,” he added, “this is a great experience these kids will (remember) forever.”