Friday’s 2A Baseball: Bearcats Hold On For Win in Sloppy District Title Game
2A Baseball: Daniel Fagerness Answers the Call in Second Start of the Season
By Jordan Nailon
It was a district championship game with the muted look and feel of a preseason jamboree, as a dogged rain and cold wind blew through the Mint City Friday evening. Neither of the Evergreen 2A Conference’s top two teams threw their staff ace and the squads combined for an uncharacteristic nine errors — six of them for W.F. West alone.
In the end, though, the only stat that mattered was the score as the Bearcats earned their second straight District 4 2A Baseball Tournament championship over Tumwater with a 6-4 victory.
Starting just his second varsity game of his career, sophomore hurler Daniel Fagerness earned the win on the mound for W.F. West with a steady five-inning performance. While he notched only three strikeouts Fagerness also surrendered only two earned runs. The other two that came on his watch were unearned, thanks to a trio of those pesky errors in the third inning.
“I was really excited,” said Fagerness about his pregame state of mind. “I was a little nervous to start.”
Relying on his accumulated baseball gumption Fagerness refused to change anything about his preparation in the face of the biggest start of his prep career. After the game he tipped his cap to senior catcher Tysen Paul for helping him to keep his wits in the midst of the storm.
“He helped me out a lot. He’s an amazing catcher,” said Fagerness, who felt like he finally settled in around the third inning. “My goal was just to keep it low and outside and for a strike every time.”
The Bearcats offense helped Fagerness keep his mind right as well by scoring four runs in the first three innings and adding their fifth and sixth runs in the fourth frame.
Tyson Guerrero got the Bearcats out of gate with a leadoff triple in the first inning and then came home to score on a sacrifice fly from Dakota Hawkins. In the third frame Kolby Steen kicked things off with a single and Guerrero moved things along with a single of his own. That’s when the weather began make things interesting, as an errant throw from third on a Hawkins grounder allowed both runners to score and an overthrow from third on the next play allowed Hawkins to reach home.
In the fourth inning the Bearcats loaded the bases with no outs thanks to a pair of singles from Paul and Austin Emery and then another error from the T-Birds third baseman that allowed Steen to reach safely. A pair of back-to-back sacrifice flies from Guerrero and Drew Forgione scored Paul, and Emery and gave the Bearcats all the cushion they would ultimately need.
Guerrero led the Bearcats offense with a 2 for 3 performance that included the triple, an RBI, a steal and two runs scored.
“The first pitch is usually right down the middle for me so I just look for it,” said Guerrero. “I like to swing at the first pitch.”
It wasn’t all roses early on for the Bearcats, though, as a handful of base running errors served to compound their defensive woes. While Bearcat fans may have been left scratching their heads, Guerrero said the team never flinched in the wicked face of adversity.
“There was no talk. I think we just figure it out on our own. We didn’t have to say anything,” explained Guerrero, who came up with a clutch diving catch in centerfield in the bottom of the seventh inning with the tying run at first base. A lesser player, or perhaps one with less steeled resolve, may have let it drop and played it on a bounce. After all, if the ball had gotten by Guerrero the game likely would have been tied with the winning run in scoring position and just one out. Despite all those peripheral facts Guerrero said he never hesitated when it came time to leave his feet.
“I took two steps back and then I realized it wasn’t coming back, it was going in,” said Guerrero. “I always think about diving … It was a close call.”
Senior Adrian Boites earned the save in relief of Fagerness by tossing two innings of shutout baseball, but afterward all the talk was understandably about the surprising sophomore starter who pitched the Bearcats into position for the coveted district championship trophy.
“First off Daniel Fagerness was making his second varsity start and here it is a district title game and he performed better than expected. His teammates even made some mistakes behind him and he just responded in the right way,” said W.F. West coach Bryan Bullock. “We just kept reminding him between innings that he was doing exactly what we needed him to do.”
Bullock said that while the win may or not be beneficial to his team’s seeding for the regional round of the State 2A playoffs those sort of implications were far from the Bearcats’ minds.
“We try not to look at those things. We just said we want to win every game from here on out. It’s a momentum thing,” said Bullock.
The Bearcats will play at Centralia’s Ed Wheeler Field on Saturday, May 20, at 1 p.m. in the regional playoffs against the No. 4 team from District 3.
BEARCATS 6, THUNDERBIRDS 4
W.F. West 103 200 0 — 6 8 6
Tumwater 102 010 0 — 4 7 3
Batteries: W.F. West — Daniel Fagerness, Adrian Boites (6) and Tysen Paul; Tumwater — Bradley Jordan, Wesley Swick (6) and Jackson Davis