By Meg Wochnick
YAKIMA -- As the Tumwater High baseball team exited the visitors' clubhouse at Yakima County Stadium, the sting of the state championship loss fresh on their minds, the Thunderbirds were welcome with rousing applause and congratulatory hugs.
The players had a lot to be proud of, parents, coaches and fans said. A second-place finish after a 12-0 five-inning loss to W.F. West during Sundays all-Evergreen Conference Class 2A state title game was nothing to hang their heads about.
Coaches made sure players looked at the big picture: their overall accomplishment. A runner-up state trophy, a first for Tumwater baseball, which ended its season at 18-8. No other team in program history earned a state trophy in five prior state appearances. Baseball joins Tumwater football, volleyball and boys track teams as second-place finishers during the 2012-13 school year.
No one thought we would get this far, said junior outfielder Garrett Terrell, who threw a complete-game, four-hitter in Saturdays semifinal win over Archbishop Murphy. This is a big step for our program, especially us making it this far. I think it shocked everyone once we got here, but with the experience the next couple of years, we may be able to scrape out a few wins over here."
Terrell was the only T-Bird to have success offensively off W.F. West starting pitcher Keylen Steen, accounting for two of the teams three hits, including a first-inning double.
The Bearcats (24-3) pounded out 14 hits, and scored runs in every inning. Batters got to Tumwater starter Elijah Hill early, tagging the 6-foot-3 sophomore for six runs on eight hits and exited after 1-plus innings following Tanner Guellers 3-run no-doubt-about-it homerun to left field that had an estimated distance of 380 feet for a 6-0 lead. Hill did get out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the first, preventing further damage as he struck out the 7-8-9 hitters.
But Gueller, the No. 3 hitter, finished 2-for-4, both hits for extra-bases, with five RBI and also added a sacrifice fly in the third, pushing the lead to 9-0. The Bearcats top three hitters -- Dugan Shirer, Toby Johnson and Gueller -- had four plate appearances through four innings and were a combined 9-for-12 with seven RBI.
W.F. West continued its rich tradition of baseball in the state playoffs, winning its second state title in four seasons, and the first state title for first-year coach Tommy Elder. The program has now won state trophies in four of the past five in what some considered to be a rebuilding season for the program with the retirement of longtime head coach Tom Zuber and loss of multiple starters due to graduation, including 2012 league MVP Mitch Gueller. Instead, it claimed the 2A EvCo regular-season title, District IV title and first state title since winning it all in 2010.
We definitely believed in ourselves, said Tanner Gueller, a junior.
Our coaches said the first day (of practice) that we would win state, Steen added, and we didn't look back.
After the T-Birds 3-2 semifinal win Saturday, confidence was high for the title game and facing a familiar opponent for the title game. Of Tumwaters eight losses, five came to W.F. West -- 1-0, 8-0, and 7-4 during the regular season, 5-1 in the May 10 District IV title game and Sundays game.
On April 17, Tumwater was 7-6 overall, fourth in the 2A EvCo standings, and in the midst of a three-game losing skid. From there, it won 11 of its next 13 games to reach its first Final Four.
Everyone buckled down and got the job done, Terrell said.
Said Tumwater coach Jamie Weeks: Theyll start remembering those good things as the days go on.".
Tenino takes third: The Tenino Beavers earned their second state trophies in the last three seasons with a 6-5 eight-inning win over Cascade of Leavenworth in the Class 1A third/fourth-place game at Richland High School. The Beavers placed second in 2011.
In the eighth, Tenino led off with back-to-back doubles by Zeb Chamberlain and Kellen Miller. It was Millers RBI double that scored Chamberlain for the eventual game-winning run.
Chamberlain finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Ben Peterson picked up the win in relief, pitching 4 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up three hits.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473