Fire and rain conspired to keep the Class 2A Southwest District baseball championship game from being a pretty sight.
With W.F. West and Tumwater combining for nine fielding errors and a bundle of base-running gaffes, the Bearcats’ 6-4 victory won’t be used as a baseball training video, but with both teams’ competitive flames on high the game went down to the final out.
Rain had fallen for most of the day, and only W.F. West’s unusual accessory for a high school field — a tarp — let the game get underway just a few minutes late. Though the infield dirt appeared to be game-ready, wet grass and showers that fell intermittently throughout had an effect.
As did both teams’ refusal to treat the game as if it was just for the Southwest District 4 trophy. A win or loss would also determine seeding in next week’s state regional round.
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“Right from the first pitch, both dugouts were very amped up and that’s not usually our style,” said Bearcats coach Bryan Bullock. “But we knew it was single elimination after today and wanted to focus on winning every single game going forward.”
W.F. West will meet the third seed from the District 1 / 2 tournament on May 20 at Wheeler Field in Centralia, while Tumwater travels to Auburn to play the fourth-seed from its own district, to be determined this Saturday.
Tumwater coach Clay Hill echoed Bullock’s philosophy.
“Sometimes you can use a loss for motivation,” he said, “but in the postseason its all about winning. Period. You want to be at your peak this time of the year.”
The T-Birds fell behind early, but stayed in the game to the end.
Down 6-4 entering the bottom of the seventh inning — the game was played at W.F. West, but Tumwater batted last because of a coin flip — the T-Birds brought the potential winning run to the plate with one out after Noah Andrews reached on an error and Logan Hayes beat out an infield single.
Jackson Davis, who drove in a pair of runs earlier, smoked a line drive that Bearcats’ center fielder Tyson Guerrero caught off his shoe tops running in toward the infield. Had the ball gotten past Guerrero, the game would have been tied with Davis in scoring position.
“They’re a heads-up, scrappy group,” said Hill of W.F. West. “They’re a disciplined hitting team. But we battled.”
The Bearcats took an almost immediate lead when Guerrero opened the game with a fly-ball triple off the center field fence and scored on a sacrifice fly — one of three W.F. West would collect on the day — by Dakota Hawkins. Tumwater tied it in the bottom of the first when Andrews, who would score three of the T-Birds’ runs, led off with a single, stole second and scored on a throwing error.
W.F. West took control in the third when a double by Kolby Steen and a single by Guerrero were followed up by back-to-back throwing errors by Tumwater.
The T-Birds cut their deficit to a run in their half of the third when a single by Noah Sirkel and a double by Davis, combined with three Bearcats errors, brought home two runs. A Davis groundout in the fifth drove in Andrews for the final run.
Daniel Fagerness pitched five innings to get the win for W.F. West, scattering six hits and striking out four. Adrian Boites moved from third base to the mound to pick up a two-inning save. Landon Jordan took the loss for Tumwater despite striking out five, and Wesley Swick pitched two innings of scoreless relief.
“For the conditions, Landon held them down pretty good,” said Hill. “We needed to back him up a little better than we did.”