EVERETT — Earlier this week, the Jackson High School baseball team came through with its back against the wall.
To reach state, the Timberwolves will have to do so again.
No. 2 seed Jackson mustered just four hits and suffered a 6-2 loss to ninth-seeded Bothell in a Class 4A District 1/2 Tournament winner-to-state consolation game Friday at Funko Field.
The Timberwolves get another chance to clinch a state berth Saturday, when they face top-seeded Mount Si in a loser-out contest at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue.
That elimination clash will feature the tournament’s top two seeds battling for the bi-district’s final ticket to state.
“You have to have a real, real short memory,” longtime Jackson coach Kirk Nicholson said. “We’re trying to accomplish tomorrow what we tried to accomplish coming into this district playoff — which is go to state.”
It’s been an up-and-down postseason for the Wesco 4A champion Timberwolves.
Jackson (17-7) opened the bi-district tournament with a 1-0 loss to 10th-seeded Skyline in the quarterfinals last Saturday.
That sent the Timberwolves to a loser-out game against sixth-seeded Newport on Tuesday. Jackson fell into an early 5-0 hole and trailed by a run in the bottom of the seventh, but rallied for an 8-7 walkoff win in eight innings to keep its season alive.
But the Timberwolves weren’t able to replicate that success on Friday against Bothell (12-12), which clinched its first state berth since 2017 with the victory.
“Our kids played hard,” Nicholson said. “It just didn’t work out for us.”
Senior ace Carson Burns got the start for Jackson. He entered the game with a 1.30 earned-run average in 43 innings pitched, with 40 strikeouts and just three walks.
But against the Cougars on Friday, Burns allowed five earned runs and 10 hits in six innings. He finished with one strikeout and no walks.
Bothell senior Maxwell Paterson went deep in the second inning, crushing a three-run homer over the tall center-field wall to give the Cougars a 4-1 lead.
In the sixth, Bothell junior Charlie Meyer hit a single that bounced past Jackson’s left fielder and rolled toward the fence. That allowed Meyer to race all the way around and score on a collision at the plate, stretching the Cougars’ lead to 6-2.
Bothell finished with 11 hits.
“They outhit us,” Nicholson said. “They swung the bat really well against us today. … And it was against my guy that’s pretty good and has had a great year. So you’ve gotta tip the cap and say, ‘They beat us.’”
Jackson, meanwhile, struggled to capitalize on opportunities at the plate. The Timberwolves left 10 runners on base, including six in scoring position.
In the first inning, Jackson put runners on second and third with no outs. But Bothell sophomore starter Sawyer Wickstrom limited the damage, allowing only one run.
In the fourth, the Timberwolves again put runners on second and third with no outs. But Wickstrom kept Jackson off the board, escaping the jam with two groundouts and a popout.
In the fifth, the Timberwolves loaded the bases with one out. But Bothell senior reliever Jonah Shull came in and retired the next two batters to limit Jackson to one run.
And after the Timberwolves put runners on the corners with one out in the seventh, Shull struck out the final two batters to seal the victory.
“A couple of balls that we hit with guys in scoring position were right at guys,” Nicholson said. “(But) you know what? It’s baseball. And they hit the ball better than us today.”
Meyer and Shull each had three hits for Bothell, while Paterson and senior Asher DeLeo added two hits apiece.
Wickstrom pitched 4 1/3 innings for the Cougars, allowing one earned run and three hits while working around five walks and a hit batter. Shull added 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief, with four strikeouts and no walks.
Burns led the Timberwolves with two hits. Jackson senior standout and University of Oregon signee Dominic Hellman reached base in all four plate appearances — twice via walks and twice via hit by pitches.
The Timberwolves look to bounce back and keep their season alive in Saturday’s winner-to-state elimination game against Mount Si. Like Jackson, the the KingCo 4A co-champion Wildcats (15-7) have lost two of their three games in the bi-district tournament.
“It’s a different day,” Nicholson said. “And that’s what great about baseball. … Tomorrow is the start of the state playoffs for us. You either win or go home, and that’s the rest of the way.
“Hey, we’ve won 17 games. Let’s go get the 18th tomorrow, right? So that’s all it is. That’s the message.”