EVERETT – A friend told Arlington baseball coach Scott Striegel after a miraculous win over Meadowdale Saturday that he should go buy a lottery ticket.
It sure seemed like it was Arlington’s lucky day, as the Eagles came back from a 4-0 deficit in the seventh inning, then won the game in the bottom of the ninth after the Mavericks suffered three errors.
With the 5-4 win, Arlington advances to the state regionals and will play Eastside Catholic in Mount Vernon Saturday.
Striegel said he had never had a team come back from four down.
“I’m as excited as they are” about the win, he said.
For six innings, it certainly didn’t look like the Eagles would be going anywhere. They had just two hits off Meadowdale starter Tommy Dimmock.
But in the seventh, Jack Sheward left off with a double off the centerfield wall. Owen Bishop drew a walk and Sheward sent to third when Cameron Smith smacked a long fly ball to right for the first out.
Travor Kazen put the Eagles on the board with a line-drive single to center. With a two ball, two strike count on Chase Lindsey, the Mavs pulled Dimmock.
Lindsey ended up walking then Nick Ferreira beat out a slow grounder to third for an RBI to make it 4-2. Andrew Smith got on after an error, which scored another run.
With the bases loaded, one out, and top hitter Gavin Rork coming to the plate, it looked like Arlington might win it right there. Rork walked to knot the score at 4-4.
But Mike Tsoukalas struck out and Sheward popped to first to send the game into extra innings.
Freshman Jacob Burkett came in to pitch for the Eagles and blanked the Mavs for two innings.
Then, with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Ferreira hit a line drive to leftfield that was dropped. Burkett then hit the ball to second and in his rush to try to get a double play he bobbled the ball. Everybody safe.
That brought Rork to the plate. He hit a grounder to short, but in his rush for a double play he threw the ball wide of first, and Ferreira scored the winning run. The team rushed the field and swarmed Rork.
Striegel said the shortstop had to rush the play because of Rork’s speed.
“He knows all about Gavin,” the coach said of the Mavs infielder.
Arlington had not been to state since 1994, but now the Eagles have gone the last three years under Striegel. Eastside Catholic is the squad that knocked them out last year.
“To go three years in a row is obviously extremely tough,” Striegel told The Herald. “It says a ton about what our kids have done to improve this program.”
Striegel said this team never gives up.
“They didn’t put their heads down (and) say, ‘Well, this season’s over because there’s three outs to go.’ They said, ‘Let’s go win this ballgame.’”