It’s not often a high school baseball team can be held scoreless for seven innings in a row and still come out with a win, but that’s what W.F. West pulled off, going nine and beating Black Hills 3-2.
“Sometimes you play great and lose,” WFW coach Jesse Elam said. “Tonight we didn’t play great and won, and I’d rather be on that end.”
The Bearcats rallied for the go-ahead run when Joey Floyd — who had thrown eight strong innings already — plunked Avery Staloch to lead off the ninth. Isaiah Nachatilo-Smeltzer came in as a courtesy runner and immediately took second on a passed ball, and Evan Stajduhar brought him in on a single through the left side of the infield.
Gavin Fugate struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to seal the win, capping an eight-out appearance out of the bullpen to earn the win.
Weston Potter gave the Bearcats a lead right out of the gate, following a Deacon Meller single and a Fugate double with a two-run knock to make it 2-0. That scoreline held for three innings, before Black Hills loaded the bases in the fourth on two walks and an error, and tied the game up over the course of a crazy at-bat thanks to a wild pitch and an error behind the plate.
“You take out a couple of weird plays where we lost our minds a bit, and we’re out of there in seven,” Elam said. “But that’s why you play the game, and our guys battled.”
After the craziness tied the game at 2-2, Waylen Land came to the hill to calm things down for W.F. West, putting up 2 ⅔ shutout innings. All together, three WFW pitchers — Riggs Westlund, Land, and Fugate — combined for 19 strikeouts.
“We threw a lot of strikes tonight, so that was good,” Elam said.
Meanwhile, Floyd settled in after the first inning and held the Bearcats quiet for seven straight frames, finishing with four strikeouts.
Xander Shepler had a two-hit day for the Wolves, while Braden Jones and Potter both had a pair of hits for the Bearcats.
W.F. West is set to face River Ridge in a non-league game Friday, while Black Hills will take an extended break, coming back to face Rochester on April 7.