CHEHALIS — Brady Calkins was on cruise control from the mound, but just to be on the safe side, he did some damage with his bat as well.
Calkins pitched a five-hit complete game, striking out four, while driving in a pair of runs to help W.F. West claim the Class 2A District IV baseball championship with a 5-1 victory over Tumwater on Friday.
“I just felt really confident in the batter’s box today,” said Calkins, who overcame a shaky first inning to notch his third victory over the Thunderbirds this season. “That’s about as good as I’ve felt all year. I think it was the warm weather.”
Tumwater, which entered the title game having won eight consecutive games, trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning but could not find the tying run despite having the bases loaded with one out.
“That was the turning point in the game right there,” said Tumwater coach Jamie Weeks. “For the last three weeks we’ve been getting big hits in those types of situations. Tonight we weren’t able to come up with one. It’s a tough loss, but we’re still playing. I told the team we now need to start a new streak.”
Despite the loss, the T-Birds (15-7) advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2007.
While Tumwater will be making its first state tournament appearance in six years, W.F. West (19-3) has made a habit recently of deep postseason runs as the Bearcats earned their sixth consecutive trip to state.
Few teams have been more successful in the past four state tournaments than W.F. West, which has posted an 11-3 record in state tournament games since 2009, securing a state title (2010) and two third-place trophies (2009 and 2011).
Both squads open the regional round of the state tournament on May 18.
Tumwater will travel to Yelm High School, where it will play the No. 1 seed out of the West Central District.
The Bearcats get to stay home, hosting the fifth-seeded West Central District team. Both games will be at 1 p.m. Winners advance to the state quarterfinals, which will take place on the same day at 4 p.m.
“That’s huge for us, staying at home,” Calkins said. “We love playing here. ... We know where all the hops are.”
The bounces, however, seemed to go Tumwater’s way in the fifth with Justin Graham following Riley Owen’s single and Tyler Oberg’s double by drawing a walk to load the bases with one out.
“All I was focused on was that next out,” Calkins said.
The Bearcats got it when Anthony Correia popped out to shallow center field.
Calkins then eliminated the threat by striking out Garrett Terrell, the T-Birds No. 3 hitter.
“(Terrell) has been stroking the ball. He had some big hits against Mark Morris (in the district semifinals),” Calkins said. “I just felt relieved when we got out of that inning.”
W.F. West answered with two runs in the fifth inning and a run in the sixth as it notched its eighth consecutive victory, its last loss coming on April 18 to River Ridge.
Tumwater led 1-0 in the first after Clayton Boze drove in Terrell with a single.
Both teams finished with five hits, but the T-Birds were charged with four errors and seven walks.