The Central Washington men’s baseball season came to an end Thursday night in the GNAC tournament semifinals when they lost to the Montana State Billings Yellowjackets ten to six.
The Wildcats had played earlier in the day against the Concordia Cavaliers, winning that game seven to one, and the Yellowjackets had lost in the game right before this one to the Western Oregon Wolves. The Wildcats finished the season one game over .500, with a record of 27-26.
The Wildcats fell behind early when the Yellowjackets scored six runs in the second inning on five hits and three errors. The three errors in the inning went on to hurt the Cats, because all six runs scored by the Yellowjackets in the inning were unearned.
The Cats fought back hard and scored two runs in the bottom of the second on singles by Seniors Chris Dalto and Ty Deckwa. CWU added another run in the bottom of the third on a solo homerun by James Smith.
Dalto was the only player not named Smith to have multiple hits in the game, because he kept finding ways to get on base for the Cats .
“I was seeing the ball well. We faced them a couple of times throughout the season and I had been hitting the ball pretty well against him,” Dalto said.
Montana State Billings added to their lead in the top of the fourth inning with two runs on four singles and one batter hit by a pitch. The Cats tried to answer back in the bottom of the fourth, but were able to score only one run on a Smith triple.
On Thursday Smith, a Senior, was hitting the cover off of the ball. He had three extra hits including a homerun and 3 RBIs on the day as well. Smith said that the Yellowjacket pitchers did a good job mixing up their pitches, but “if I saw a fastball, I would make them pay.”
“They like to mix it up a lot. Early on there would be a lot of curveballs and change ups,” said Smith. “But if they left something over the plate or if they gave me a fastball—my favorite pitch to hit—I would just try to drive it somewhere hard, and I found a couple of gaps that worked in my favor.”
Central was able to add one more run in the bottom of the seventh to score their sixth run of the game. Neither team scored in the eighth or the ninth inning, despite Central getting a runner into scoring position in both innings.
Losing in the semifinals was a tough way for the Wildcats’ season to end, but Head Coach Desi Storey was proud of the way his team fought to get back into the game.
“That’s good character. We made a mistake. We dropped a ball and we kind of opened the door for them in the second inning, but we didn’t quit,” said Storey. “They dug down and found ways to score runs and stay in it. We came up a couple of hits short in the end. I was proud of them.”
Smith agreed with his head coach and felt that the team’s never-give-up attitude helped them make it as far as they did in the GNAC tournament.
“We never give up. Our fight is our best strength,” said Smith.
The returning Wildcats and Coach Storey will look to build on their success this year when they come back next year and try to win a GNAC championship.