SPOKANE — The seniors on Toledo’s baseball team had won 10 games in their career heading into this season. While the season ended here Saturday at Shadle Park High School at the hands of Chewelah, by a 15-4 score, it was an achievement because it took place in the regional round of the 2B state playoffs.
“I don’t think a lot of people expected us to make state,” Toledo coach Mack Gaul said. “Hats off to our four seniors. They really turned Toledo baseball around and we couldn’t ask for a better group of kids.”
Toledo came into Saturday’s game with a 16-8 record and the No. 14 seed in the state bracket, facing off against a Chewelah squad from the NE 2B League that only had one loss all year to another 2B squad.
Chewelah showed why it was a No. 3 seed, quickly jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second with a roster of track athletes around the base paths. They added five more runs in the top of the second inning and seemingly had control of the matchup.
“If that had happened at the beginning of the season, that probably would have been it and we would have rolled over but it was great to see our guys battle,” Gaul said.
In the top of the third inning, pitcher Caiden Schultz helped his own cause by singling to drive in a run. Chewelah, however, would score two more runs in the bottom of the stanza and Rogan Stanley came in as the Riverhawks pitcher.
Down 10-1 in a rare eastside rain storm, things were looking rather dreary but the magic Toledo found this year once again was pulled out of its hat. Carson Gould and Kaven Winters, Zane Ranney each singled. Justin Filla then doubled to drive in two runs and Conner Gilreath reached on an error to bring home two more runs for Toledo.
The four-run, four hit inning was followed by a scoreless Chewelah bottom of the forth and momentum felt like it was shifting away from the state tournament’s No. 4 seed.
Chewelah, however, wouldn’t be denied and notched a three-hit, four run bottom of the fifth to put the game out of reach.
“They are a well-coached team and we just didn’t execute,” Gaul said, referencing Chewelah's speedy, small-ball approach to the game. “We knew they were gonna come out and bunt, we just didn’t expect it to happen five times in the first two innings.”
Had Chewelah not put in that late four-run rally, the scrappy Toledo squad expected some late-game heroics to make it further in the bracket.
“When we had that comeback and stopped them we really felt like we were going to make a comeback,” Gaul said. “But that rally of theirs pretty much stopped that.”
Rain made the artificial field wet for most of the game and Gaul said that was a factor for both teams.
“But we can’t use that as an excuse as a team from Western Washington where it always rains,” Gaul said with a laugh. “I mean we come over here and it's raining while it’s apparently sunny and seventy back home.”
Schultz took the loss for Toledo, going just two and two-thirds innings, striking out two, giving up seven hits and nine runs. Rogan Stanley pitched 2 1/3 innings, giving up four runs and striking out four, while Kaven Winters pitched the final inning.
Toledo actually out-hit Chewelah 11-10 but four errors hampered the Toledo baseball team as they had speedy Chewelah baserunners to contend with, requiring quick throws in hectic situations.
Justin Filla, Mason Miller, Geoffrey Glass and Carson Gould each had two hits in the game.
Chewelah’s Zach Bowman picked up the win, throwing 107 pitches, striking out six and allowing just one earned run.
Shade Krausz finished the game with four RBI for Chewelah, while teammate Thomas Dowding drove in five runs.
Chewelah went on to defeat Okanogan 5-1 in the state quarterfinals and will face off against Brewster in the semifinals next weekend in Ridgefield.