SPOKANE – With a team of only four players above the grade of freshman, the Brewster Bears defied the odds and opponents on older, more experienced teams to advance to the final round of eight in the state baseball championships at Spokane last Saturday, May 20.
On the strength of a 14-2 regular season record, CW2B League Championship, and 2-1 second place District 5/6 performance, the Bears faced Northwest Christian – Colbert in the first round of loser-out play at John Thacker Field at Ferris High School and ended the Crusaders’ quest with an 8-2 victory.
Northwest took a two-run lead in the top half of the first inning but the Bears knotted the contest in the bottom of the first and “pretty much controlled it from there,” coach Todd Phillips said.
Brewster added another run over the next two innings before “a nice little rally in the fourth,” said Phillips, when the Bears added four more runs. “I think that gave us a cushion.”
Northwest came into the playoffs with a 9-0 second-place ranking in the 2B Bi-County District, behind leader Colfax, but did not advance beyond the first round. The Crusaders converted six hits into two runs while Brewster squeezed eight runs from 10 hits.
“Jeff (Sonneman) pitched really well,” said Phillips of the sophomore’s performance on the mound.
“Colfax just beat us from the get-go,” said Phillips of the Bulldogs 14-4 win in round two Saturday afternoon.
In a scenario resembling the previous week’s back-to-back district games first against Kittitas and then Tri Cities Prep, Brewster played what Phillips called its best game of the season in the 9-2 win over the Coyotes.
In the second game, Tri Cities took advantage of errors and converted bases-loaded walks into scoring runs in the 12-0 win over the Bears.
Against Colfax, “we made a lot of errors again and found ourselves in a 4-1 box in the first inning,” said Phillips of the six-inning game. “It kind of snowballed from there.”
Colfax scored 14 runs on 16 hits while Brewster was a perfect 4-4 in hits and runs.
Freshman Kade Kelpman pitched the first three innings and Joe Taylor took over for the last three.
“We didn’t ever quit, just couldn’t get the job done,” said Phillips. “Colfax is a good ball club.”
Last weekend’s loss was the third consecutive time the Bears have made it into the state quarterfinals and the fourth year in a row that the team has qualified for state competition.
The Bears “have to get over that hump the next two years and then it will become something that we are used to doing,” Phillips said of his young team’s prospects.
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