The student news site of Everett Community College in Everett, Washington

The Clipper

The student news site of Everett Community College in Everett, Washington

The Clipper

The student news site of Everett Community College in Everett, Washington

The Clipper

Trojans win the North after split with Skagit Valley

Sam Whitney
Welter is now 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA over 36.1 innings.

For the third time in four seasons, the Trojans have secured a North Region title, and with it a trip to the NWAC Championship Tournament.

In a tense weekend series, the team’s first three games against Skagit Valley last weekend were decided by a grand total of three runs. The fourth went 12 innings.

In game one at Skagit Valley, Everett jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a second inning RBI single off the bat of freshman left fielder Cooper McBride.

Staked to an early lead, starting pitcher Mason Devinney was in cruise control for the first three innings, retiring the first nine batters he faced in order.

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That rhythm was broken up with a single to start the bottom of the fourth, and two batters later Skagit Valley’s Bryce Johnson put his team in the lead with a two-run homer.

Devinney and Brandon Brunette combined to allow just one unearned run over the remainder of the game, but the offense couldn’t get anything going and Devinney was saddled with a tough-luck 3-2 loss despite allowing only three hits.

The lineup again gave their starter a lead in game two, providing freshman lefty Callum Young a 2-0 buffer with a run apiece in the third and fourth innings.

Like Devinney in game one, Young got off to a good start, posting zeros in the first four innings. Unfortunately, like Devinney, his work came undone with one bad inning, this time the fifth, as Young allowed four runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter in the fateful frame.

Burns batted .450 (9-20) on the weekend with four RBIs. (Sam Whitney)

It looked as if the Trojans would go quietly again, but down to their last out, the offense finally broke through.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the ninth, third baseman Carson Burns drove a two-run single to tie the game. For Burns, delivering in the big moment came down to simply believing in himself.

“It’s all confidence,” Burns said. “It’s knowing that my stuff is better than his, and just wanting it more.”

AJ Hendrickson took the mound and kept the game tied in the bottom of the ninth, and then again in the tenth before the offense came through in the top of the eleventh.

With one out and runner on second, Micah Coleman swatted a go-ahead single.

Hendrickson remained on the mound for the bottom of the inning to close out the win and send Everett back to the playoffs.

The significance of the playoff berth was not lost on Burns. Being a sophomore, the opportunity carries even more weight for him than it might otherwise.

Burns said that at the beginning of the year, Head Coach Keith Hessler posed the question “Why are you here?” The team’s response was as resolute as it was unanimous.

“The conclusion was we wanted to win a championship,” Burns said. “We’ve got a chance now and we didn’t have that last year. It means that much more. We’ve got 40 guys to go compete their asses off. It means a lot.”

Back home at Funko Field on Sunday for sophomore day, freshmen and sophomores alike came up clutch in a game three win.

Freshman left hander Landon Welter allowed a run in each of his first two innings to put the Trojans at an early two-run deficit.

Then, thanks to some advice from sophomore righty Ethan Hubbell, Welter settled in to throw a season-high seven strong innings.

“(Hubbell) sat me down and said, ‘Just think pitch to pitch and execute. Just be you,’” Welter said. “He told me that I’m better than any hitter I’m gonna face and to trust myself. That’s what I did and it paid off.”

After the offense got a run back in the bottom of the seventh, McBride kept the Trojans in the game with two scoreless innings. In the bottom of the ninth, down by a run, the offense finally capitalized on their pitchers’ strong outings.

A leadoff walk followed by a single and a hit batter loaded the bases with nobody out for Axel Puls. Despite the big moment, he kept his approach simple.

Puls finished the regular season batting .285 with 23 RBIs. (Sam Whitney)

“All I needed was a base hit,” Puls said. “All I needed was to hit something hard to the outfield.”

He did just that, driving a double into the right center field gap to plate two runs and win the game in walkoff fashion.

While not a sophomore himself, Puls was glad to contribute on such a special day for some of his teammates.

“It means a lot. It’s a game we really wanna win,” Puls said. “We all want to win, and it’s big that we came through and got the job done.”

Looking for the series win in game four, the Trojans and the Cardinals traded blows the whole way, with the game tied at 5-5 after seven innings.

Everett struck for two runs in the bottom of the eighth for a 7-5 lead, but Skagit Valley punched right back in the ninth to tie it back up at 9-9.

The bats then went quiet on both sides until the top of the 12th, when the Cardinals broke out with a five-run inning that the Trojans couldn’t recover from.

Despite the tough finish, the team will look to carry their knack for performing in tight spots into the playoffs.

“Hopefully it carries over,” Hessler said. “We put ourselves in a situation this weekend where we needed that clutch hitting… I’m hoping to jump out a little better, a little quicker, in the playoffs, but at least we know we can do it.”

Hessler said to get right, the offense needs to simplify in the box.

“It’s just executing. We have certain jobs we do with runners in certain situations, and we have to give up those selfish at bats and do a job for the team.”

Next weekend, each region’s runners-up play each other to see who else will fill out the eight-team double elimination bracket that will determine the next NWAC champion.

The Trojans’ next game will come against one of those teams on Thursday, May 23 at 4:35 in Longview.

In the meantime, Hessler said he doesn’t plan to fix what isn’t broken as far as his practice plan.

“We don’t want to put too much pressure on the guys to perform just because now it’s the playoffs.”

Playoffs or otherwise, one thing is certain: There is no quit in this team. That much is evident to Hessler more than anyone.

“We seem to perform our best with our backs up against the wall.”

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About the Contributor
Sam Whitney
Sam Whitney, Managing Editor of Content
What is your dream job? My ultimate dream job would be to work as an analytical sportswriter for or FanGraphs, breaking down aspects of baseball and sharing my passion for the game with others. It would also be awesome if I could somehow work my way into a front office job with an MLB organization. When you aren't doing things for the Clipper, what can you be found doing? Away from the Clipper, I can often be found reading or watching anything baseball-related that I can find. Otherwise, I might be spending time with friends, playing with my dog Cashmere, or reading about history. And sleeping. Lots of sleeping. Which historical or fictitious figure do you most identify with?  The fictitious figure I like to identify with is Steve Harrington from Stranger Things. I may not always be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I have my moments, and I'm protective of those I care about and I'm there for them when it counts.

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