Bearcats Walk Off Over Monarchs to Advance to Semifinals


Six innings into its first-round matchup in the 2A district tournament against Mark Morris, the W.F. West baseball team decided to get its postseason run going.

Just in the nick of time, too.

Entering the seventh inning down by two runs, the Bearcats (15-6, 10-2 2A EvCo), found themselves down to their final strike before storm back with the bats, and Evan Stajduhar sent all of Chehalis home happy with a walk-off single to punctuate a 5-4 win.

“We didn’t give up,” WFW coach Jesse Elam said. “That’s a very big positive there.”

Trying to line up its pitching for the rest of the tournament, Mark Morris kept ace Stephen Hammergren in the bullpen until the sixth inning. In the seventh, he walked Hunter Niemi to lead the frame off, then plunked Deacon Meller with one out, and the Bearcats started to realized he didn’t have his best fastball command.

After a strikeout put two down in the inning, Braden Jones battled for six pitches to a full count, and hammered the payoff slider deep. Niemi scored from second, and when MM’s throw in went wild, Meller scored to tie the game and Jones rolled into second.

The Monarchs intentionally walked Weston Potter to fill the open base. Having done his homework, Stajduhar went up ready for the first-pitch slider, and ended the game quickly in walk-off fashion with a single to right.

“Evan had a day,” Elam said. “I told him to look for it, and he found it.”

Stajduhar finished the day 2 for 3 with a walk; he drove in W.F. West’s only two runs before the seventh inning on a 2-RBI double in the fourth. Jones went 2 for 2, and Meller, Gavin Fugate, and Potter all added knocks.

Hunter Lutman — W.F. West’s LCC-bound arm opposite Hammergren — went six innings in the start, striking out seven and allowing three runs on five hits and three walks.

“He pitched great,” Elam said. “He battled and did what he was supposed to do.”

After Lutman hit his pitch count, Riggs Westlund came on for the seventh and gave up a run on a walk, a sacrifice, a wild pitch, and a knock, but limited the damage to just one and ended up earning the win for his efforts.

W.F. West will head south for the district semifinals Wednesday, taking on 2A GSHL champions Ridgefield. The Bearcats run-ruled the Spudders last year in the first round of the district tournament. 

“I feel like we’re just starting to come together,” Elam said. “I’m not going to talk about momentum or anything like that because it’s baseball. But we’re feeling good. I think we’re gaining confidence at the plate, and hopefully we continue doing that."