Columbia High baseball earned its first State tournament berth since 2002 with a pair of victories last weekend at the Southwest District Tournament in Castle Rock.
The Bruins (18-5) edged Trico rival La Center 4-2 on Saturday in the consolation final to secure the district’s No. 3 State seed. (The top three teams from district will be playing this weekend in single-elimination regional tournaments.)
CHS’s most important win in 17 seasons followed a 4-0 victory over Castle Rock on Friday in the first round of consolation games.
All told, the Bruins won three of four district games. They shut out Forks, 1-0, on May 6 in the first round but lost to Hoquiam, 13-1, in a May 7 semifinal, both at Castle Rock.
Columbia is being sent to the Anacortes Regional, where it will play Cedar Park Christian (21-3) of Bothell at Volunteer Park, starting at 1 p.m. University Prep of Seattle and Warden, from eastern Washington, will square off in the first Regional semifinal at 10 a.m.
Two wins on Saturday and the Bruins will be going back to Yakima for the 1A Final Four.
Cedar Park Christian won the Northwest District championship, outscoring its three opponents by a combined score of 20-2.
“Obviously it was a very emotional, exhausting, and incredible week for Bruin Baseball,” Bruins Coach John Hallead said Monday. “Four trips to Castle Rock last week with three good close games can wear on you. Our boys really pushed through all of that and played the type of baseball we have all year: outstanding pitching, clean defense, and timely hit-ting.”
Columbia 1, Forks 0: Sophomore right-hander Garrett Hog-berg pitched five innings of no-hit ball and relievers Davis Koester and Dominic Raether completed the no-hitter. Raether got the final two outs for the save.
Hogberg struck out four and worked around three walks in his first career post-season start. His relief allowed one walk and struck out three in two innings.
CHS tallied the game’s only run in the bottom of the third. Trenton Howard scored on a squeeze bunt by Koester.
Howard singled, stole second, and advanced to third on Payden Webster’s bunt single.
Columbia finished with five hits. Howard had two of them.
Webster, Sean McMahon, and Trevor Cooper each had one hit.
The Bruins left seven runners on base and stranded five in scoring position.
Howard eliminated one scoring threat by the Spartans in the third when he threw a runner out trying to advance from second to third on a stolen-base overthrow with two outs.
Hoquiam 13, Columbia 1: The Evergreen League’s No. 2 entry scored five eared runs in the top of the second off Koester and never trailed again.
The Bruins scored first when Howard came home on Koester’s RBI bunt single with no outs. Howard reached on Hoquiam’s only error, stole second, and took third on a wild pitch.
The Grizzlies, who outhit the Bruins 12-6, tacked on five runs in the sixth on three hits (one a three-run homer to left field with one away), a walk, and two errors. They added three runs in the seventh on three errors, a wild pitch, and a hit.
Koester went 2 for 3. Webster, McMahon, Cooper, and Hogberg each had one hit.
Hogberg left the game after injuring a wrist while diving for an errant throw at first base. Hallead said Hogberg suffered a broken wrist and is done for the year.
CHS loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first but couldn’t capitalize. Hoquiam got the last two outs when it turned a bunt in the air into a double play.
Columbia 4, Castle Rock 0: Kolby Riggleman, Koester, and Raether combined to throw a five-hit shutout with six strikeouts and three walks.
Howard and Cooper each had two of CHS’s seven hits. One of Cooper’s hits was a triple. Howard and Webster each tallied an RBI.
The Bruins scored single runs in the fourth and fifth, then tacked on two runs in the sixth to boost their lead to 4-0.
Columbia 4, La Center 2: Koester pitched a complete-game four-hitter with eight strikeouts and scored two of the Bruins’ runs.
The Bruins notched the go-ahead and winning runs in the bottom of the sixth on a one-out bases-loaded walk to Raether (in a nine-pitch at-bat) and an ensuing balk.
Koester had two of CHS’s three hits. Cooper scored two runs and logged the Bruins’ only stolen base.
CHS trailed 2-0 before plating two runs in the fourth with two outs. Koester and Cooper came home on an errant pick-off throw to first base.