Emerald Ridge High School baseball coach Larry Marshall thought he was out.
Snohomish coach Kim Hammons said safe.
Derrek Johnson said he never felt ER catcher Dominik Zombik tag him after spinning back and dropping to his stomach about eight feet from the plate. Zombik pleaded that he did.
The home plate umpire called safe. And that ultimately proved the difference.
Snohomish’s next batter drove one more run in on an infield single in that bottom of the fifth inning. And instead of Emerald Ridge escaping with the third out, Snohomish took a 2-0 lead it would hold from then on to end the Jaguars season in the first round of the 4A state tournament on Sunday at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma.
So this is what Sunday high school baseball is like.
“The bottom line was I saw the tag,” Marshall said. “I’m on that stuff. I make sure our guys are trained that if it’s a tag, I don’t care, go back and get him. We don’t’ do fake tags. We got him.”
“I didn’t feel anything,” Johnson said.
He was dead-to-rights when ER pitcher Chad Gideon got Johnson in a rundown on his pickoff attempt to third base with two outs.
Third baseman DeShawn Johnson ran the Snohomish centerfielder toward home plate before tossing to Zombik. And Derrek Johnson pulled a Houdini whirling dervish move as Zombik went for the tag before scooting to home plate.
Safe, the umpire called.
Hammons said it’s like Johnson was made to get out of pickles – he does so frequently in practice. Johnson said it’s why the team calls his DJ Wiggles.
“We practice run downs Mondays and Thursdays on non-game days,” Hammons said. “I have to kick him out of the drill because our guys cannot tag him.
“This has been all year. That was not a one-time deal. It was like he was made to have this move to get away from the tag and it was absolutely phenomenal.”
And Snohomish pitcher Jake Mulholland, an Oregon State University-bound pitcher, continued to shut Emerald Ridge down from there, throwing all seven innings with the no runs, four hits and six strikeouts.
“They knew that we are a first-pitch fastball team,” Marshall said. “Eight of the first 10 batters he threw breaking pitches, so we had to adjust. He threw well and came up with big pitches when they needed big pitches.”
On the other side, ER senior pitcher Chad Gideon, who will head to Pacific Lutheran next year, allowed just the two runs, which could have easily been no runs, in six innings.
“He fights and he fights and he fights,” Marshall said. “He’s been with us for four years and I love every bit about him.
“I told him the other day that I’m going to hold this job down until he graduates. He wants to be a teacher and a coach and he’s going to be the best. I’m going to retire when he’s ready to take over. There’s not too many guys better than him.”
“I’ve been playing with these guys for four years and it’s been an awesome time,” Gideon said. “I didn’t want that to end and I wanted to play next weekend and I wanted to go on past that. It sucks it had to end today.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677