T-Birds remain unbeaten in league, hand Bearcats first league loss


Early on in Monday’s EvCo matchup, Tumwater and W.F. West went blow-for-blow.

Luke Overbay opened the scoring with an inside-the-park home run, but W.F. West immediately responded with an RBI single from Connor Coleman.

Eddie Marson tripled home a run in the top of the third, but Coleman threw him out at the plate for an inning-ending double play two batters later.

The energy from both sides was palpable, and though it was listed on the schedule as a typical league matchup, the environment at Bob Peters Field resembled that of a state postseason game.

As the game wore on, Tumwater’s Liam Karlson dialed in on the mound, and as the game wore on, he shut down the Bearcats and prevented them from closing the gap.

An insurance run in the fifth and three more in the seventh were more than enough for the Thunderbirds, who came away with a 6-1 win to become the last unbeaten team in the EvCo standings.

As Karlson figured out what worked best for him on the mound, the Tumwater offense did the same.

After Eddie Marson singled to lead off the fifth, he stole second and scored on an RBI single from Jimmy Womach. That marked the end of Braden Jones’ day on the bump, and W.F. West coach Jesse Elam brought in Grady Westlund out of the pen.

At first, the T-Birds (12-3, 9-0 2A EvCo) struggled against Westlund, who was touching as high as 83 miles per hour with his fastball.

As they started to see him more, though, they began to see him more effectively and began grinding out longer, more effective at-bats.

“Once we started taking advantage of what was given to us, I felt like we kind of honed it in,” Overbay said. “In high school sometimes, that takes three or four innings … Not a lot of high school teams, one through nine, can do that. It’s very encouraging.”

That led to the big seventh, where they pieced together three hits, including a two-run single from Landon Roy and an RBI single from Charlie Crawford. With each hit, the Tumwater dugout became more and more elated, and every player that reached immediately looked at the dugout to celebrate after.

“We need to have that intensity,” Overbay said. “We’re a very good team … We're a much better team when we do that.”

That energy helped propel Karlson on the mound, as he retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced to finish off a complete game. He allowed just four hits and one run while walking three and striking out four.

That doesn’t mean W.F. West didn’t have its chances early on. The Bearcats (11-3, 6-1 2A EvCo) stranded a pair of runners on base in the second and third. After that, only one more batter reached base.

“We had our opportunities early, and we didn’t take advantage,” W.F. West coach Jesse Elam said. “That’s what it comes down to.”

It was W.F. West’s first league loss, leaving Tumwater as the last remaining unbeaten team in the league. The Bearcats will have the chance to repay the favor on Wednesday, when they’ll head to Tumwater for the second matchup of the two-game set.

“They’re gonna come hard at us (Wednesday),” Overbay said. “This is what I love about this. It’s playoff baseball … It’s getting us prepared, and I think they’re getting prepared for it too. It’s gonna help us down the line.”