AUBURN — The Bearcats didn’t do a lot of celebrating here Monday, even after their belated 10-2 win over Kingston sealed a trip back to the State 2A baseball semifinals.
They won’t have anything they feel like celebrating until Saturday.
W.F. West got a 13-strikeout pitching performance from Mitch Gueller and knocked 16 hits here in a state quarterfinal matchup with the Buccaneers, improving to 24-0 and two games away from a second straight state title.
“Our goal wasn’t to make it to Yakima,” senior Brennan Casteel said. “It was to win state. We’re just one step closer.”
One long step closer. The game was started Saturday afternoon in Chehalis and postponed after the first inning, then rescheduled for Monday at Auburn Mountainview High School’s turf field.
“It was an expectation from the first day of practice,” Bearcat coach Tom Zuber said, of being one of the final four teams playing in Yakima. “But we’re not finished. These guys are not content now. They want another title.”
W.F. West scored its first run in the third inning. Erik Forgione started things off with a double and scored on a long fly to right field from Gueller. The Cats added 4 runs in the fourth, on consecutive hits from Yasser Khan, Michael Forgione, Erik Forgione, Brennan Casteel and Robert Pehl. They pushed the lead to 9-0 with another 4 runs in the sixth, highlighted by a 2-run single from Justin Wilson, and tacked on the final run in the seventh when Erik Forgione led off with a triple and scored on a single by Pehl.
“I’d say we played our game,” Casteel said. “We didn’t hit a home run — that’s weird — but we did the little things.”
Erik Forgione went 4 for 4 at the plate, with 4 runs and two doubles. Casteel went 2-3 and was hit by a pitch twice — his third and fourth free base in such a manner in two games — and Pehl went 3-5. Wilson and Keylen Steen each added two hits.
Gueller worked 6⅓ innings over the three-day contest, not allowing a run until Josh McLoud launched a 2-run homer to right field in the final frame.
“He was just overpowering,” Zuber said of Gueller, who, over the first four innings, struck out 10 batters and allowed just one hit — which was a hard line drive that actually ricocheted off the pitcher’s leg.
“That’s the best game, all year, from him,” Casteel offered.
W.F. West will now advance to the semifinals, where it takes on Sehome at 4 p.m. on Friday at County Stadium in Yakima.