Anyone who follows the Selah High baseball team knew 2019 was going to be a good year for the program.
With dominant pitching, an airtight defense and a well-balanced lineup, all the Vikings needed to do was show up and they could reasonably expect to win every game.
That’s more or less how the season played out as Selah finished on a 16-game winning streak, capturing the program’s second state championship in the past four years.
The Viks (24-2 overall) were so formidable that they outscored their six postseason opponents 35-6, including a 7-1 victory over Fife in the May 25 Class 2A title game at Yakima County Stadium.
Starting pitchers Dylan Bishop and Payton Andreas carried most of the load in the district and state tournaments, while the defense committed just one error over the season’s final three weeks.
The Vikings’ playoff run was the stuff of legends, but don’t expect the players to talk themselves up too much. Winning the title was just business as usual.
“This season wasn’t a breeze, even though we won most of our games,” said senior relief pitcher/first baseman Nick Garretson. “We had to battle the whole year and we all worked really hard to get to this point. Winning state in our last high school game feels pretty unreal, but it’s even sweeter because we had to earn it.”
Andreas was on fire against Fife, striking out 10 and allowing only five hits. He also went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored, giving the Vikings plenty of breathing room.
“We knew we had a good chance to win, but with Payton throwing as well as he was, we were able to just relax and play baseball,” Garretson said. “Scoring three runs in the first inning helped us put the nerves aside, and Payton did the rest.”
Nate Gutierrez, Brandon Bruner and Bishop also drove in runs, while Caden Herbst was 2-for-4. Senior shortstop Carter Young, a Major League Baseball prospect, walked three times and scored a pair of runs.
His presence in the lineup will no doubt be missed.
“Carter plays a huge role in our offense because he always puts the ball in play and gets on base,” said Bruner, a senior second baseman. “Then we follow up with Payton and Nate, who can drive in runs and get on base. We’re pretty solid from top to bottom.”
Before taking down Fife with relative ease in the championship game, Selah dispatched North Kitsap (4-1), Ellensburg (5-0) and Archbishop Murphy (3-0).
Ellensburg had won the past two state titles, but the Vikings managed to topple the Bulldogs four times this season, including a 4-3 comeback win in the CWAC championship game on May 7.
“The past four years, it’s either been us or Ellensburg finishing on top, so that shows you how good our league is,” Bruner said, adding that winning state as a senior means even more because he’s been playing alongside his teammates since they were in Little League.
“It’s really cool to win with these guys because we’ve been playing together since we were 8 years old,” he said. “We would always talk about how we were going to win a state title when we got to high school, and to do it in our senior year is the perfect way to go out. It feels good to bring the title back to Selah.”
Also taking the field for the final time were outfielder Chase Ergeson, Young, Andreas, Garretson and Bishop, who pitched one of his best games of the season in the Viks’ semifinal win over Archbishop Murphy.
Underclassmen Wyatt Berriman, Dean Pettyjohn, Gutierrez and Herbst also played key roles down the stretch for the Vikings and will lead next year’s squad.
Despite losing such a solid core to graduation, Garretson believes the program is primed to make another run in 2020.
“We have good seniors move on every year, but Selah is always going to be in a position to win,” he said. “Nate, Caden and Wyatt will lead the team next year, and there are a lot of other guys coming up behind them.”