An 8-3 loss to University Prep in the State 1A baseball quarterfinals last Saturday ended Columbia High’s season.
The Bruins finished 19-6 in their best season since 2002. That was the last time CHS played in a State baseball tournament and made it to the Final Four in Yakima.
They put themselves in position for another Final Four appearance with a 4-0, nine-inning win over Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) at Volunteer Park in Anacortes, in the round of 16.
CHS needed two victories last Saturday to qualify for the Final Four.
In the round of 16 game against Cedar Park, junior right-hander David Koester turned in one of the all-time great CHS pitching performances. He pitched eight innings of shutout baseball in which he yielded seven hits and one walk. He struck out seven and threw 73 of 106 pitches for strikes.
“Davis did what he has done all year and pitched one of the best games I’ve coached in,” Bruins Coach John Hallead said. “He was very effective with our scouting report on their hitters and did a great job of mixing location and keeping their batters off balance.”
The Bruins finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the ninth with one out.
Senior Dominic Raether led off with a single and took second on an errant throw from the outfield. He went to third on junior Kolby Riggleman’s sacrifice bunt, then scored when senior Jordan Trout’s flyball to short right field got misplayed into an error.
Senior Trenton Howard walked and junior Payden Webster reached on a bunt single to load the bases.
Trout stole home on a wild pitch on a planned suicide squeeze to make it 2-0, while Howard and Webster each moved up a base.
Koester swung away after the wild pitch and hit a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Howard.
Webster scored on senior Sean McMahon’s two-out single that gave CHS a 4-0 lead and kept the rally going.
Senior Trevor Cooper and sophomore Austin Charters followed with walks to jam the bases full again. A strike-out ended the uprising.
“We had a little bit of luck on our side, to be honest,” Hallead said of the ninth-inning rally.
The Bruins preserved a 0-0 game in the seventh after the Eagles’ lead-off man reached on an error and stole second. He got doubled off second base by Howard after Howard caught a liner to center field. The runner failed to tag up and Howard threw to second for the force out.
CHS turned a 6-4-3 double play in the first inning to thwart the Eagles, and Koester worked out of a jam with runners on first and third with two out in the third.
The Eagles had a man on third with two out in the eighth only to have Koester induce another inning-ending fly out.
Raether pitched a perfect ninth with one strikeout to nail down the win.
CHS outhit Cedar Park, 8-7, and stranded 12 runners on base. The Eagles left six aboard.
A 45-minute break preceded CHS’s quarterfinal game against University Prep (Seattle), on a hot, sunny day in Skagit County.
The Pumas held the Bruins scoreless in the top of the first, then broke into the scoring column with a lead-off home run off Raether. That led to a 3-run inning.
CHS trailed 7-0 before ushering home three runs in the top of the fifth on two-out RBI singles by McMahon and Cooper.
The Bruins left the bases loaded, just as they did in the fourth.
“We had built a lot of momentum in those innings,” Hallead said. “We had players in positions to step up and do some damage but we just faltered in that area all day.”
The Bruins left nine men on base compared to six for the Pumas, who outhit CHS, 10-6, and capitalized on five Bruins errors.
“I really felt that the long duration of Game 1, couple with the long trip Friday, zapped our boys of the energy they needed to knock off University Prep,” Hallead noted. “We looked tired and made uncharacteristic errors in Game 2. It was an emotionally draining game as well.”
McMahon and Webster both had two hits versus the Pumas. McMahon also collected two hits (one was a double) against Cedar Park, as did Koester.