For six and a half innings, the Meadowdale Mavericks baseball team looked like they were headed to the state 3A tournament. They scored two runs in the first, added a third in the second inning, and an insurance run in the top of the seventh to take a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh, needing just three outs to secure the third seed from District 1 to State.
Aided by three walks and a Mavericks error, the Eagles from Arlington plated four runs in the inning to force the game into extra innings. Two innings later, Arlington scored one more in the bottom of the ninth on a Meadowdale throwing error to end the game, 5-4 in favor of the Eagles.
Meadowdale got the day’s scoring started the way they have so often the past couple weeks, when Tommy Dimmock singled on a line drive to center field, scoring Will Schafer who had led off the game with a single of his own. Mason Vaughn then scored on an error by the Eagles first baseman, giving the Mavs an early 2-0 lead.
In the second inning, sophomore Cutter Buchea doubled down the line to left field with two outs. Buchea scored when Schafer followed up by stroking his second single of the day into left field.
Dimmock, Meadowdale’s starting pitcher, appeared unhittable for much of the afternoon, allowing just one hit over the first six innings.
That one hit, a double by Arlington’s third baseman Andrew Smith, generated the Eagles best scoring chance in the early innings. His hit moved Nicholas Ferreira to third with just one out. The next hitter, Gavin Rork, hit a sharp liner to Meadowdale Centerfield freshman Parker Cumberland.
Cumberland caught the ball on the run and threw a strike to catcher Travis Hagen. The catcher made a great tag on a diving Ferreira, who had tagged up and was trying to score, for the double play, ending the threat.
Entering the bottom of the seventh, things looked good for Dimmock and the Mavericks. Having just added an insurance run in the top of the inning, they had a commanding 4-0 lead.
Eagles catcher Jack Sheward doubled off the center field wall to lead off the inning.
Dimmock followed that by walking the next hitter, Owen Bishop, but then coaxed the first out from the third hitter, Cameron Smith, who flew out to right field, allowing Sheward to tag and move over to third base.
Senior second baseman Trevor Kazen singled to center on the next at bat, scoring Sheward while Bishop advanced to second.
Dimmock was pulled mid-way through the following at-bat against left fielder Chase Lindsay. He was replaced by freshman Cole Nelson, who walked Lindsay to load the bases.
Ferreira hit a little dribbler toward third base that Dimmock fielded bare handed, but he couldn’t throw out the speedy runner and the RBI infield hit scored Bishop and left the bases loaded for the Eagles, who were trailing 4-2.
Andrew Smith followed with a grounder to third that Dimmock threw wide of first baseman Finn Wendt. Wendt came off the bag at first to catch the errant throw, but was unable to reach back and tag Smith. The throwing error allowed Kazen to score, pulling the Eagles within one run, 4-3.
With the bases still loaded, Nelson walked Rork, forcing in the fourth and tying run before ending the inning with a strikeout and a pop out, sending the game to extra innings.
The two teams played a scoreless eighth inning, and the Mavs failed to score in the top of the ninth.
In the bottom of the inning, Meadowdale pitcher Mason Vaughn got the lead-off hitter to ground out to short on the first pitch of the inning, before surrendering a sharp single to center by Ferreira.
The third Eagle hitter in the inning, Jacob Burkett, topped an apparent double-play grounder to second baseman Cutter Buchea, only to have Buchea bobble the ball for an error, resulting in both base runners safe.
Gavin Rork came to the plate next, and hit a hard grounder up the middle. Senior shortstop Will Schafer scooped it up, stepped on second for the second out, but his throw to first base was over first baseman Finn Wendt’s head. Instead of an inning-ending double play, the throwing error allowed Ferreira to round third and score the winning run, ending the Mavericks’ season and state tournament hopes.
“That’s a painful way to end a terrific season…a memorable season.” Mavs Coach Bill Hummel right after the game. “It often boils down to pitches you don’t make, and plays you don’t make. We gave a good team five outs in the bottom of the seventh, and you just can’t do that. It’s just going to end up costing you. I’m not second guessing the moves we made on the mound. Cole Nelson’s been terrific for us all year long. Bottom line, we probably shouldn’t have been in that situation. They’re (Arlington) good. Give them some extra outs, and they’re going to take advantage of it.”
Hummel went on to reflect on his starting pitcher Tommy Dimmock, and the team’s season.
“Terrific game from Tommy. He executed our game plan exactly the way we asked him to. What can you say about him? He drove in about 40 runs this year, and got us this close to the state tournament. He was amazing this year. Just amazing. He had a season to remember forever. If we did a league MVP in our league, he’d be the guy, hands down.”
Hummel also had praise for his other seniors. “Travis Hagan was terrific this year, Will Schafer was terrific,” he said. “Great group of seniors. Great leadership and great performances. I just can’t say enough about the leadership that these guys gave to the younger guys on our team. It was just impressive. We’re really proud of them.”
“We were a terrific ball club offensively this year,” Hummel continued. “We scored more runs this year than we have since I’ve been at Meadowdale. I’m just really proud of how these kids worked to improve, and they got better and better as the season went on. It just ended on a sour note, unfortunately.”
Will Schafer, Mason Vaughn and Aaron Chester ended the day with two hits each for the Mavericks.
District 1 Boys Baseball Tournament
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Meadowdale 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 12 5
Arlington 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 1 5 7 1
Meadowdale finishes the season 17-7
— Story and photos by Scott Williams