Friday’s 2A Baseball: Bearcats Storm Back to Claim District Title
District Champs: W.F. West Scores Seven Runs in Final Three Innings for 8-7 Win
By Jordan Nailon
VANCOUVER — Looking to secure their third-straight District 4 2A baseball title here Friday evening, W.F. West found itself in an unfamiliar and decidedly uncomfortable position from the get-go.
The Bearcats surrendered five runs in the first inning and wound up trailing 7-1 midway through the fourth after the Greater St. Helens 2A League champion Lumberjacks of R.A. Long knocked down the den door and set about raiding the pantry. As the home team, though, W.F. West was in no mood to play the part of gracious host and, little by little, wound up charging all the way back for an 8-7 walk-off win.
That victory was sealed by an infield single from Bearcat designated hitter Lane Douglass, which scored Drew Reynolds and sparked a spontaneous on-field celebration. Six innings earlier, though, when the Lumberjacks held a 5-0 lead, the Bearcats were licking their wounds and wondering what went wrong.
“I was not expecting that at all. I was little nervous, to be honest with you,” said W.F. West senior Tyson Guerrero. “Senior year, you want to win them all.”
In an effort to turn his desires into realities, Guerrero helped bring the Bearcats back to life in the sixth inning when he drove an offspeed pitch from R.A. Long starter Kaden Vanderwerf well over the right field fence for a two-run home run.
“I was sitting changeup, because that’s what he’d thrown in all of my other at bats,” said Guerrero, who finished the game with a double and two runs scored to go with his home run and two RBIs.
That longball spelled the end for Vanderwerf, the reigning GSHL MVP, who had managed to keep the Bearcats’ potent lineup off balance for the first four innings.
Signs of trouble first popped up for Vanderwerf in the fifth inning, though, when he gave up back-to-back doubles to Guerrero and Douglass that brought a run in to score. Nole Wollan then chipped in a single to score Douglass. Two batters later Brock Jones was hit by a pitch and then Leandre Gaines singled down the right field line on the ninth pitch of his at bat to score Jones and Douglass to cut the Lumberjacks’ lead to three runs.
The Bearcats weren’t out of the woods quite yet, as the Lumberjacks’ first two batters of the sixth inning, Alex Brady and Tyler Reece, found their way safely on base. That’s when Bearcat go-to reliever Brock Jones put the clamps on the Jacks by striking out their 2- and 3-hole hitters to bookend a clutch pickoff of the runner at first base.
“I thought that was a huge momentum builder for us, right there,” said W.F. West coach Bryan Bullock.
That momentum paid off in the bottom half of the inning when Max Miller singled to lead off the inning and then scored on Guerrero’s home run. Douglass then reached when he was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a passed ball before Nole Wollan singled to right field to tie the game at 7-7.
The Bearcats kept that momentum rolling in the final frame when Reynolds reached base on a walk and then stole second base before Josiah Johnson reached on a walk. A flyout by Guerrero that took the first baseman deep into foul territory then allowed Reynolds to tag up and advance to third base and set the scene for Douglass’ squibb hit heroics.
On a three-two count, with two outs the left handed swinging Douglass, cued a ball to the left of the pitchers mound and set off burning towards first. R.A. Long relief pitcher Conner Wallace was unable to negotiate the considerable English on the ball as it spun passed him and a throw by the hard charging shortstop sailed wide of first base as the Bearcats began to mob in celebration down the first baseline.
Douglass said once he realized the stakes of his at bat he was determined to send his team home victorious.
“It didn’t really click until I looked at the scoreboard and there were two out and I was the last hitter, and I just said I’m going to end this right now,” said Douglass. “We knew it was just a matter of time before our bats started clicking. It just took a little longer than we all thought it would.”
Bullock said he was proud of the way his team rebounded after falling so far behind. Patient at bats throughout the game were critical to tiring out Vanderwerf and getting into the Lumberjacks bullpen, he added.
“I think all of us, we stayed the course so the message they got from me was we’re just going to compete one inning at a time,” said Bullock.
The win means W.F. West will get to stay in the Twin Cities for the regional round of the playoffs next Saturday, against the No. 4 seed out of District 5/6/7 — which will be determined on Saturday.
“We were not only playing for a district championship but also that No. 1 seed, where we can stay at our own house and sleep in our own beds and really feel comfortable going out and playing a regional playoff game,” said Bullock.
Jones pitched three innings of shutout baseball with six strikeouts to earn the pitching win. He also had a double and scored two runs at the plate.
Douglass led the Bearcats offense, going 4 for 4 with two RBIs, two doubles and two runs scored. Wollan and Miller added two hits each.
W.F. West will play at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 19, at Ed Wheeler Field in the 2A regional playoffs. The winner of the 1 p.m. game will play another loser-out game, 45 minutes later, against the winner of the 10 a.m. regional matchup between the District 3 No. 2 seed and the District 4 No. 3 seed. The winner advances to the State 2A tournament in Yakima on May 25-26.
BEARCATS 8, LUMBERJACKS 7
R.A. Long 500 200 0 — 7 6 2
W.F. West 010 033 1 — 8 12 3
Batteries: R.A. Long — Kaden Vanderwerf, Conner Wallace (6) and Jacob Childers; W.F. West — Dakota Hawkins, Brock Jones (5) and Drew Reynolds