The Edmonds-Woodway High School baseball team took the field Thursday having lost two of their four senior leaders to injury the day before in practice. Fortunately, the remaining two, along with an emergency catcher, came through in a big way, leading the Warriors to a dramatic 3-2 victory over Snohomish while earning the 3rd seed out of the District 1 tournament. Tate Budnick pitched a complete game, fellow senior Jason Smarr was responsible for all three runs batted in and Chantz Justice stepped in on short notice and not only caught, but made the last put-out of the game.
Leading 3-2 in the top of the seventh inning, the Warriors took the field knowing they were only three outs away from the victory. Budnick coaxed the first batter, Logan Baker, into a grounder that shortstop Joey Reese fielded cleanly for the first out. The next batter, Garrett Stich, lined a single to right and advanced to second on a passed ball. Brad Morgan then grounded it to Reese, who calmly tossed across to first baseman Cameron Sharpe for the second out, with Stich moving to third on the play. Budnick’s second pitch came in low and was partially deflected by the catcher. Stitch tried to score on the play, but catcher Justice chased it down and tossed it to Budnick covering home to tag Stich for the game’s final out.
“We got a little luck on the play, but we were owed some luck,” said Warriors’ coach Dan Somoza.
The bottom of the third started with the Warriors trailing 2-0 and yet to get a hit off Panther ace Ryan Sandifer. Sharpe changed that, lining a single to left field. One out later Dominic Marinez lashed a single to left. Matt Gerhardt moved the runners up one on a ground out. Smarr then took a two-strike pitch and hit a high-chopper that the Panther shortstop had bounce off his glove, scoring both Sharpe and Marinez and tying the game.
The Panthers’ fourth started with Haakon Lande walking. Budnick then picked him off first, which would prove critical as Nolan Smith hit a triple to right center. Budnick struck out the next two batters to end the threat. The bottom of the fifth started with a double down the line by Brandon Mitchell. Marinez walked and Gerhardt not only bunted the runners along, but reached first, just out-running the throw. With the infield in, Smarr took a one-strike pitch and hit it up the middle to score Mitchell, giving the Warriors the 3-2 lead. Marinez was thrown out at home on the play. The Warriors would end up settling for the one run as the next two batters struck out.
The top of the sixth for Snohomish had an eerily similar start, as the Panthers also saw the first two runners reach base. Snohomish also tried to bunt the runners along, but Budnick fielded the bunt and wisely got the lead runner at third. The next batter popped out and Budnick would finish off the threat, getting Andrew Conrad on a full count strikeout.
“It seemed like he was always stranding runners at third. Bend not break,” said Somoza.
With Budnick’s regular catcher Mac McLachlan having been lost to injury Thursday, the Warriors brought freshman Garrison Krohn to catch. In the top of the second inning, Krohn injured his hand and the Warriors turned to Justice, who hadn’t caught since his freshman year. “I brought my gear, just in case,” said Justice. “After the way Monday’s game ended it was great to get redemption and to once again be a part of the final play. It just felt great.” Said Somoza: “Chantz did an outstanding job behind the dish.” Asked about the crazy run of injuries, Somoza added, “You just never know what’s gonna happen. You just go with it.”
Budnick’s complete game saw him strike out six and scatter five hits over seven innings. “Tate pitched awesome,” Somoza said. “Gritty, got us playing for State.” Budnick noted: “It was different with Chantz catching, but good. He stepped up big.” Asked about playing for a state berth, Budnick responded, “We came through and we can do it again. This will be my third time (playing for state) in four years.”
The win sets up a showdown Monday at Warrior field against District 2 No. 3 seed Redmond. First pitch is at 4 p.m. with the winner going to the state tournament.
Snohomish 0 1 1 0 0 0 0-2 6 4
Edmonds-Woodway 0 0 2 0 1 0 x-3 5 2
— By Jeff Smarr