Prep baseball: Bearcats take Swamp Cup over Tigers in dominating fashion


Maybe it was a good thing. Or maybe it was just the hand the W.F. West High School baseball team was dealt for what seems like the umpteenth time this spring.

With their field still under construction, the Bearcats have no set home schedule and don’t know if they’ll play at Centralia College or go be the home team on another school’s diamond.

“We’re at four different places every week,” pitcher Miles Martin said. “We’ve been having to handle adversity.”

So a couple days in trying to reschedule and finalize a date and diamond for the second Swamp Cup meeting against Centralia didn’t faze an experienced Bearcat bunch.

Twice on Thursday night W.F. West batted around its lineup and racked up double digit runs for the second time in four games, cruising by the Tigers 14-2 in five innings to conclude Evergreen Conference play.

The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday and rain pushed it to Wednesday. Then Bob Peters Field needed to be used on Wednesday and Wheeler Field was off limits due to a light installation project.

“No big deal,” Bearcats head coach Jesse Elam said. “We’ll show up and play when they give us a field and we did that today. Looks like we had a lot of fun.”

Quarterfinals of the Class 2A District 4 tournament kick off on Tuesday and W.F. West (16-5, 10-2 EvCo) will face either Mark Morris or R.A. Long in a location and time to be determined.

Of course, that’s just par for the course for W.F. West.

“It was honestly like the story of our season,” Martin said.

The top motto for the Bearcats has been “Win in May” as it is attempting to defend the district title. So far, they’re 1-0.

After going down in order in the top of the first, they erupted for an eight-run second by sending 13 hitters to the plate and finding gaps in the outfield seven times.

Six of the runs came with two outs, the big blow a two-run single by Ross Kelley. Connor Coleman roped an RBI triple, his third in two games against Centralia.

“Our mentality was to hunt fastballs,” Martin said. “We wanted to bring our energy back. We lost it in the middle of the season and just be excited. We locked in.”

Six more runs crossed home in the fifth to put W.F. West in firm control of the contest. Three runs scored on RBI singles, two on fielder’s choices and one on two errors. Eight batters in its lineup notched at least one RBI.

Martin notched a team-high three hits for the Bearcats and scored three times.

“They got every break, we got nothing, but you also got to make some breaks and we didn’t,” Centralia head coach Jake LeDuc said. “We respond with three (or) four (runs), it is a whole different ball game.”

Elam called Thursday a “bullpen” game by using four pitchers. Coleman, Grady Westlund, Braden Jones and Martin combined for seven strikeouts and just three hits allowed.

All of the pitchers for the Bearcats will be available for the opening game of districts.

“Guys are pounding the strike zone and we have confidence in six, seven guys,” Elam said. “Connor and Grady haven’t thrown in a while; (Braden) Jones needs to keep his arm fresh and keep Miles fresh.”

The Tigers (6-13, 3-9) avoided the shutout with a hit-and-run that turned into a Landen Jenkins RBI double in the fourth that scored Brady Sprague. Cohen Ballard recorded an RBI fielder’s choice in the fifth, but the hole was too big to dig out of.

“I had a feeling he was going within the first couple of pitches because that’s Brady,” LeDuc said. “Broke up the no-hitter, broke up the shutout. I’m not unhappy with it.”

Centralia will play its final game on Friday against Hoquiam at Olympic Stadium. It will be the last game for 10 seniors that turned the program around from not sniffing the district tournament to being in the hunt until the very end.

“I really wish some of these seniors were around another year,” LeDuc said. “It is a tough group to lose. We need to put in the extra work and get ourselves where they’re at.”