In sports, you can't beat destiny. And the Warrenton Warriors definitely have destiny on their side in 2019.
In fact, the Warriors might as well put a big “D” on their hats and “Destiny” on their uniforms.
Because at this point, the Class 3A baseball state title appears to be theirs for the taking.
Warrenton's latest victory, a 7-5 decision Tuesday at Santiam Christian, will send the Warriors to the state championship game for the first time since 1998. Warrenton will play La Pine at Volcanoes Stadium on Friday, with game time still to be determined.
The Warriors will be taking nothing for granted.
“The thing that we're trying to keep in mind now, is that nothing is a given and we're taking nothing for granted,” said Warrenton coach Lennie Wolfe. “We have two days to get better for La Pine. That's our focus now. We're excited as can be about Friday, but we're going to focus on tomorrow.”
With Clatsop County's other two contenders (Astoria and Knappa) both going down in their respective semifinals, Warrenton will be this year's county representative in Keizer.
Baseball teams from the North Coast have played in a state championship game nine of the last 13 years.
Up until now, it just hasn't been Warrenton.
But with wins over No. 2 seed Brookings-Harbor and No. 3 seed Santiam Christian, the Warriors have clinched their spot in the final. They will face No. 4 seed La Pine — more proof that destiny is on Warrenton's side, as the Hawks knocked off No. 1-ranked Pleasant Hill in Tuesday's other semifinal.
“The kids feel good about their achievements,” said Wolfe, whose last state title came in 1994. “And again, such a big part of it is that they know they've earned it.”
The Warriors never trailed in Tuesday's game, as they tallied two runs in the second inning on a run-scoring single by Alec Herrera and an RBI double from Kale'o Kapua to give starter Devin Jackson a quick lead.
Warrenton added a run in the top of the third before Santiam Christian answered with two runs in the bottom of the third, but that's as close as the Eagles would get.
A three-run fourth inning for the Warriors was highlighted by one-out singles from Ethan Caldwell and Gabe Breitmeyer.
Caldwell scored on a fielder's choice by Jacob Morrow, and Morrow scored on an error, one of five by the Eagles.
That was more than enough for Jackson to work with as the junior left-hander
scattered seven hits over five-and-a-third innings, with five strikeouts and two walks.
Jackson eventually gave way to Warrenton's top-notch closers, Dalton Knight and Breitmeyer, who gave up one hit each, although the Eagles scored three runs over the final two innings.
“Devin gave us a great five-and-a-third innings, but he tweaked his ankle warming up in the sixth, and he got into a little trouble,” Wolfe said. “Dalton had 25 pitches, and he used them all. But Gabe was able to finish it out.”
The Eagles had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, before Breitmeyer retired the final batter on a full-count pitch.