Tumwater 3, Archbishop Murphy 2
W F West 8, Clarkston 2
(Yakima, WA) Minor league baseball has been played in Yakima for more than 20 years and during that time there were only 2 games ever rained out. Mother Nature was at her worst on Friday the opening day to the 1A and 2A Baseball Final Four’s set to be contested at Yakima’s County Stadium but torrential rains on Thursday and Friday wiped out play on Friday. Thanks only to a dedicated volunteer crew from East Valley of Yakima High School was there any hope of playing on Saturday.
By 9am Saturday morning it was clear the scheduled 1A games at 10am and 1pm were not going to happen at County Stadium. Crews were digging up the base paths, applying diamond dry and kitty litter to the field trying to soak up the moisture. By 3pm after sunshine, light breezes, propane torches and constant raking the field was ready for play. After all that, it would seem somewhat of a let down if the first game played had been a yawner….well it was not.
In the 1st semi-final the defending State Champion Archbishop Murphy Wildcats were looking to repeat as Champions for the 1st time since Sehome did it in 2007 and 2008. They were facing a Tumwater team more known for their 5 State Football Championships than their prowess on the baseball field, in fact prior to this season in the 50+ year history of the school the T-Birds were a mere 1-5 in State Play-off games. They had already become the most successful team in school history when they won their 2nd game at regionals and qualified for the final 4.
Head T-Bird Coach Jamie Weeks told his team the pressure is squarely on the Wildcats. They are the defending Champions. Tumwater had already set new milestones so everything else would be icing on the cake. From the 1st pitch it felt like the T-Birds were the looser squad, not playing tight and putting pressure on the Cats.
In the first 2 innings Tumwater threatened, made contact with ball but couldn’t score on starting pitcher Derrick Mahlum. In the 3rd it looked like Mahlum would be on his way to his easiest inning yet getting the first two batters on a strike out and pop-out. Mahlum then walked Garrett Terrell, Terrell then advanced to 2nd when Clayton Boze grounded to 3rd and Casey Dawes then booted the play. With runners on a passed ball or wild pitch advanced them to 2nd and 3rd and then Luke Hare grounded to short stop Trevor Morrison who could not handle the ball and threw it away scoring Terrell and Tumwater had a 1-0 lead.
Morrison made up for that mistake in the bottom half of the 3rd when with 2 out he belted a long ball into the left center gap and the ball rolled all the way to the fence. Morrison was flying around the bases and slid into 3rd safely, with the throw coming in getting past the 3rd baseman and into the AB Murphy dugout and Morrison was awarded home plate and the game was tied.
Murphy then took the lead in the bottom of the 4th when again with 2 out, Camden Buchanan walked, then on a hit and run was knocked in by Mahlum with an RBI base hit to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
It was another short lived lead as Tumwater got things started in the top of 5 with Justin Graham walking. Then with Anthony Correia at the plate there was a passed ball or wild pitch. Graham went to 2nd. Next pitch, another wild pitch and Graham goes to 3rd and yes a 3rd wild pitch or passed ball and Graham had scored the tying run. Correia and Terrell then both popped out when with 2 outs Clayton Boze hammered a double almost to the same spot Morrison had with his triple. Riley Owen then came in to pinch hit and skied a fly ball to left center where it appeared Steve Papagayo got a good jump and was going to make the catch but slowed down in the last few steps and the ball fell about 5 feet from him. It looked like Papagayo had lost it in the sun. Boze scored the go-ahead run on the Owen RBI single.
Both teams then went 3 up and 3 down until the bottom of the 7th inning. It was the Wildcats last chance and they needed one run to tie and two to win. Lead-off hitter Buchanan lined a shot into right field and Tumwater’s Richard Schmidt made a great grab for the 1st out. Schmidt could have easily allowed the ball to bounce in front of him to make sure it didn’t get past, but was able to make the difficult catch on the run to get the 1st out. Mahlum then walked and was replaced with a pinch runner Conner Longoria. Phillip Michael Feliciano then doubled and the Cats were in business with the tying run on 3rd and the winning run on 2nd with one out. Tyler Klaudt then grounded one to Correia who was playing in on the grass. Longoria for some reason took off for home and it was an easy out for Correia who threw it to Ian Sugrue, the catcher who tagged out Longoria for the 2nd out. Pitcher Garrett Terrell then dug deep one more time to strike-out pinch hitter Ryan Dorney and the T-Birds made school history again by becoming the first Tumwater baseball team to play for a State Title.
In the 2nd Semi-Final game, The W F West Bearcats were looking to advance to their 2nd Championship game in the past 4 years. The Cats were Champs in 2010 with an 8-1 win over R A Long. W F West has also finished 3rd at State in 2009 and 2011, so plenty of recent success. For Clarkston the Bantams also have had some recent success with a 4th place finish in 2011 and overall are 4-5 in State play-off games.
Clarkston got off to a good start in the top of the 1st inning when DePaul Blunt was hit by a pitch, Chris Cronican then tried to bunt Blunt over but a nice play by Bearcats starting pitcher Brady Calkins got the lead runner at 2nd. Calkins then walked Bailey Sinner and with runners on 1st and 2nd Connor Eggleston hit sharply into right field driving in Cronican and the Bantams had a 1-0 lead. Calkins was still in a jam with 2 on and 1 out but struck out the next two to limit the damage.
The two teams would trade good defense and pitching until the bottom of the 4th. The Bearcats have not been a team that kind of picks at you with a run here and there, but rather will come up with a big rally and big innings to get enough runs to win their games this season. Michael Forgione started off the bottom of 4 with a base hit but the next two batters would go out. Forgione was on 3rd with 2 out when Elijah Johnson smacked an RBI single to tie the game at 1. Dugan Shier then pulled one right down the 1st base line but it got past Chris Garrett and Elijah Johnson ended up on 3rd while Shier took 2nd on the error. Toby Johnson then lined a hard shot into the right-center gap to drive in both Elijah and Shier to give the Bearcats a 3-1 lead.
In the 5th inning, W F West had a chance to blow open the game but left the bases loaded however, they did score one when Ryan Steepy scored running for Calkins to make it 4-1. In the top of 6, the Bantams looked like they were going to make a run at the Cats when they loaded the bases with no outs. The go ahead run would come to the plate in Eggleston who had the only Clarkston RBI so far. Eggleston took a 3-0 count and felt it was a ball which would have forced in a run, but the umpire disagreed and called the outside corner strike. Eggleston then took another strike to run the count full. In the moment of the game a showdown between the Bantams best hitter and the Cats best pitcher, Calkins came in with a straight fastball and Eggleston swung over the top and missed for strike 3 and the 1st out. Cody Compton, the Clarkston pitcher to that point, then came in to hit for an ineffective DH and grounded one to short who threw him out at 1st. Blunt did score on the play making it 4-2 but now there were 2 outs. Calkins then struck out the next batter to minimize a potential huge inning for the Bantams.
It appeared the wind had been knocked out of the Bantams sail after blowing a great opportunity to get right back in the game. In the bottom of the 6th the Bearcats would take advantage and bat around scoring 4 insurance runs to make it an 8-2 lead. In the top of 7, Calkins would give up a base hit to Bruno Faust but then coax Terrell Sells to hit into a double play. Cronican then popped out to end the game. Calkins finished the game with 9 strikeouts.
So on Sunday, a day late the Evergreen 2A Conference will battle for the State Championship. It will be the same match-up in their District Title game that went to W F West 5-1. In fact the Bearcats have beaten the T-Birds 4 times this year, 1-0, 8-0, 7-4 and then the 5-1 District Title game. But Tumwater will be happy to trade all those defeats for a victory today while the Bearcats will look for their 5th win this season over one of their league rivals.
The Schedule for Sunday starts at 10am with Archbishop Murphy facing Clarkston for 3rd/4th in the consolation game and then the Championship game will go at 1pm. Join us for live play-by-play action for both games here on the Eli Sports Network.
Picture Library for both games…