YAKIMA – While the Sumner baseball team was making its first state semifinal appearance, it ran into a team loaded with big-game experience. Lynden has already won the Class 2A state football and boys’ basketball championships this school year.
Who says experience doesn’t pay dividends?
Even though Spartans starter Logan Christensen held the Lions to just two hits, four defensive errors and too many free passes proved too much to overcome, as Lynden won 5-1 on Saturday at Yakima County Stadium.
“I think the first three innings, the emotions of the game may have gotten away from us a little,” Sumner coach Casey Adcox said. “You can’t teach this atmosphere. I think the boys did a good job of gathering themselves and showed some calm in the late innings. Hopefully we can see more of that tomorrow.”
The Spartans will face Yakima East Valley in the 1 p.m. third-place game on Saturday as they will bring home the first state trophy in the program’s history.
Lynden, meanwhile, will be playing for the first football, boys’ basketball, baseball Triple Crown in the state’s history. By winning the 2A titles in football and boys’ basketball earlier, the Lions became the 23rd school to win two of the three championships in the same school year, but nobody has claimed all three.
All that stands in the Lions’ way is a 7 p.m. meeting with Archbishop Murphy.
Lynden has not shied away from what is at stake, as players started dreaming about it almost immediately after Lynden claimed the basketball title back in March across the parking lot at the Yakima SunDome.
“These guys have put the pressure on themselves,” Lynden coach Cory White said. “But they’ve answered the call. They’ve stuck out their chests, straightened their backs and pulled back their shoulders and said, ‘This is something we want.’”
Jordan Kreider provided them the opportunity to go out and get it, as he picked up his 10th win of the season on the mound.
He held Sumner to five hits and walked four while striking out eight. The Spartans weren’t able to get on the board, until Kreider’s wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the seventh allowed Brandon Boyd to scamper home.
“I really felt I overpowered them tonight,” Kreider said. “They didn’t hit my fastball all game. Most of their hits came off my curveball. But once again, it was my defense that stepped up and played a great game behind me.”
Christensen definitely couldn’t say the same, as he and his teammates struggled in the field.
The Spartans were lucky to enter the third inning in a scoreless tie, as Christensen put five runners on with four walks and a hit batter in the first two innings, but Lynden couldn’t pick up the hit to bring any of them in.
“It was good for us to get base runners, even though we didn’t get any runs,” White said. “We haven’t been hitting the ball all that well, so getting guys on was a good thing. We figured if we could just put the ball in play, they would struggle and help us out.”
In the third inning, that’s just what happened.
Back-to-back Spartan errors allowed Matt Meyer and Kreider to reach base. Zach Vis then laid down a bunt single, before Tanner Olson drew a bases loaded walk to push across the first run of the game.
Another error on a ball hit by Matt Boulette allowed courtesy runner Shane Treloar and Vis to race home to make it 3-0.
“That’s a good team over there, and you can’t keep giving them opportunities,” Adcox said. “We usually pick it pretty good. Defense is what got us here. But we definitely gave them too many extra opportunities tonight.”
The Spartans gave Lynden a few more freebies that turned into a couple of insurance runs in the top of the seventh, when Olson and Boulette drew two-out walks. Shindruk singled in Olson, before Sumner’s fourth error of the game allowed Boulette to score.
Christensen, who threw 132 pitches, walked nine, but only one of the five runs he allowed was earned.