You couldn’t have asked for a better finish to the CWAC baseball district championship game. At least if you’re a Selah fan.
The Vikings trailed two-time defending state champion Ellensburg 3-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning, but managed to chip away little by little to come away with a 4-3 victory May 7 at Yakima County Stadium.
Sophomore Caden Herbst delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning and senior reliever Payton Andreas shut the door in the top of the seventh to give Selah its second straight district championship.
More importantly, it was the Vikings’ third win over their rivals this season.
“Ellensburg is a super-strong team that always gets better as the year goes on,” said senior pitcher/third baseman Dylan Bishop, who threw the first four innings. “We knew we couldn’t let off against them and we just made it work.”
Carter Young, Brandon Bruner and Andreas also contributed RBIs, while junior Nate Gutierrez pitched well in two innings of relief. The Vikings also turned two double plays late in the game to get themselves out of trouble.
“Anytime you can beat a team like that three times in one season, it’s a big deal,” said head coach Mike Archer, whose team swept the Bulldogs on March 30. “The kids played well and they earned it.”
The district title game likely won’t be the last time the Viks and ‘Dogs face off this season. If both teams win on Saturday in Ephrata, they will play each other for a fourth time in the Class 2A quarterfinals the same day.
“We’ll probably see them again at state, but we’ll be ready,” Bishop said.
The Vikings will have had almost two weeks off when they take on North Kitsap in the round of 16. But Archer believes his players — winners of 12 in a row — are prepared for any challenge that might come their way.
Selah (20-2 overall) is looking for redemption after getting bounced in the first round of state last season, losing 7-1 to Liberty.
“The key to winning at state is pitching and defense,” he said. “But you also have to hit well or you might get knocked off like we did last year. We’re going to be leaning on every single guy.”
Fortunately for Archer, he has a roster full of senior leaders, including first-team all-leaguers Bishop, Andreas and Young (also the league’s co-MVP).
Bruner was named to the all-CWAC second team, along with Gutierrez. Senior Nick Garretson received honorable mention.
“We had a lot of guys selected, and every one of them is deserving,” Archer said. “We have a great senior class, but we’re going to be leaning on everyone at state, not just the seniors.”
Bishop and his teammates are hoping to finish their high school careers with a bang. Most of them have been playing together since they were in elementary school.
“The big thing for us is our tradition of excellence — we expect to do well,” Bishop said. “We have fun, but we push each other because we want to be the best.”