Baseball: 'Cats score six runs with two outs in seventh for win

Incredible. Unlikely. A miracle.

Any way you look at Oak Harbor's 6-4 baseball win over host Arlington Wednesday, April 28, it was amazing.

The Wildcats scored six runs with two outs in the seventh inning to escape with the improbable win.

The victory was crucial in Oak Harbor's pursuit of a playoff spot. A loss would have pretty much dashed all hopes of reaching the district tournament; the Wildcats are still in the hunt for finishing fourth or fifth in the Wesco North with two games left.

Oak Harbor (6-8), Cascade (5-8), Arlington (6-10), Snohomish (4-9) and Stanwood (4-9) are all fighting for the final two playoff berths.

The top four North teams go directly to district; the fifth place team must play the South's fourth-place team in a play-in game for the final district spot.

Marysville-Pilchuck (12-1), Lake Stevens (11-1) and Monroe (9-5) have clinched the North's first three berths.

Oak Harbor finishes the regular season with two games with the state's No. 2 ranked team, Lake Stevens. The Wildcats go to Lake Friday, April 30, and then the teams meet in Oak Harbor Monday, May 3, at 4 p.m.

In Wednesday's wondrous win, Oak Harbor entered the seventh inning down 4-0. Arlington starter Justin Surber was pitching a six-hitter and in control.

Kian Mebane opened the inning with a double, but things looked bleak for Oak Harbor when pinch hitter Josh Evans flew out to right and Justin Counts grounded to short. Miraculously, the next eight batters reached base.

Pinch hitter Wade Burns started the string with an RBI single. Jay Stout singled. Sam Wolfe followed with his third hit of the day and second double; the two bagger plated Burns and Stout. Suddenly the tying run was in scoring position. Arlington replaced Surber with Carson Zednick.

Yale Rosen grounded to short and Arlington committed its only error, putting runners on first and third.

Pat Higbee, after facing a 1-2 count, battled back to lace a full-count RBI single to tie the game.

Higbee said, "I told myself, 'You're not getting me.' I give God all the credit. We struggle in pressure situations; it's something we need to work on." Not anymore.

Brad Farnum loaded the bases when he was awarded first on catcher's interference. Mebane, after falling behind 1-2, received the first walk of the game and forced in the go-ahead run. Evans followed with another walk and the rally was complete.

The game, however, wasn't over. Arlington, which had gotten clutch hits several times during the game -- the Eagles scored all four of their runs with two outs -- still had a shot.

Oak Harbor coach Tyson VanDam sent sophomore starter Gabe Clark back out to the mound to face the top of Arlington's order. VanDam had closer Ryan Byrne ready, but said Clark's "pitch count wasn't very high."

Clark got the big first out by K'ing Austin Baker, who had torched Oak Harbor for three hits, including two triples, in Tuesday's game. The next hitter was robbed of a base hit on a diving catch by Stout in right. Pinch hitter Tyler Wendland doubled and VanDam visited the mound to discuss their approach for the next batter, cleanup hitter Andrew Thomas.

Thomas was 3-for-3 with a double entering the at bat. VanDam said it would be Clark's last hitter and then he would turn to Byrne.

Byrne's services weren't needed as Thomas gounded out to Mebane at first who flipped to Clark for the final out.

VanDam, in discussing the big rally, said, "Every batter took the right approach." Right, indeed.

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