Early optimism faded to a close-call, season-ending loss for the Eatonville Cruisers in the 2A state high school baseball regionals last weekend.
The Cruisers traveled to Centralia to take on the top-seeded W.F. West Bearcats and wound up having their season end by the slimmest of margins They jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead but were unable to fend off the powerful bats of their opponent from Chehalis and lost 8-7.
The regionals were a single-loss format. One defeat at any point ended the participants' hope of advancing to the state seminfinals and finals this week.
Eatonville reached the regionals by finishing among the top six teams in the West Central District playoffs. And the Cruisers' chances of advancing further were looking good in the early going against W.F. West.
Eatonville got on the scoreboard first in the top of the second inning when an error by a hit-by-pitch to Jay Brymer helped load the bases. Andrew Streich doubled down the left field line to score A.J. Goetz from third and Colin Streich from second.
Up 2-0, Eatonville kept coming in the top of the third inning when Zach Smith led off with a double and, after advancing to third base on a wild pitch, scored on a single by Joel Rodriguez.
Brooks Moeller singled to right to place runners at first and second. Daniel Fuller hit into a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch. The Cruisers now had runners on second and third with two outs for Colin Streich, who singled to score Wade Wikander (pinch-running for Rodriguez) and Brymer followed with a single to score Fuller. After Andrew Streich singled to load the bases, Justin Brandt coaxed a walk to score James Williams, a pinch runner for Streich. When the dust settled, Eatonville had a 6-0 lead.
That's when the West bats came alive against Colin Streich, Eatonville's starting pitcher. In the bottom of the third inning, a bases-clearing double cut the Cruisers' lead to 6-3. The Bearcats added one more run in the third and then tied the game in the bottom of the fifth with two more runs. They took the lead in the sixth inning with a two-run rally to push ahead 8-6.
Eatonville answered in the top of the seventh when T.J. Goetz scored on a single by Andrew Streich and loaded the bases before the rally and season ended.
West went on to on to win its second-round game, as well, beating Columbia River to head to Yakima for the final four.
Andrew Streich finished with a team-leading three hits and three runs batted in Eatonville's loss to the Bearcats.
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