Predicted to finish fourth in The Herald's preseason coaches poll, the defending Wesco South 4A champions did what nobody apparently expected them to do.
They won another Wesco South championship.
The Warriors defeated second-place Cascade 1-0 Monday afternoon at Cascade High School to clinch their second consecutive league title.
"Winning the Wesco South is always fun," said Edmonds-Woodway head coach Dan Somoza. "It was one of our goals this year. We were picked to finish fourth at the beginning of the season. They worked hard."
Edmonds-Woodway was able to claim another league title thanks in large part to a triple by Chantz Justice in the fifth inning. With one out, Justice hit a fly ball to right field. The Cascade outfielder made a diving attempt but was unable to make the catch.
The ball rolled behind the Bruins' outfielder and Justice ended up on third with a triple. After Austin Holmes (1-for-1) was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game, Justice scored on an RBI groundout by Joey Reese.
Cascade head coach Scott Stencil said he had no problem with his right fielder laying out to try to make a play on the ball hit by Justice.
"You can't fault the effort," Stencil said. "We want to see them dive for the ball."
Pitcher Tate Budnick made sure the run held up for Edmonds-Woodway. Budnick scattered five Bruins' hits and struck out seven to lead the Warriors to victory on Cascade's senior day.
"Tate Budnick pitched great," Somoza said. "He came out and competed against Cascade, which is a tough, good-hitting team."
Budnick said that there was a little bit more pressure with a league title on the line, but he was eager to help his team claim back-to-back championships.
"(I felt) a little bit of everything," Budnick said. "I was excited being on the mound able to clinch. I was a little nervous, but more excited."
The junior agreed with his coach about his team being somewhat surprised by their projected finish. Budnick, who went 1-for-1 with two walks, said it served as a little extra motivation as the season went along.
"We just didn't agree with it," Budnick said. "At the start of the season, seeing 'fourth place' we were like, 'What? We were league champs last year.'"
Budnick kept the Cascade lineup in check throughout the game. He was in trouble once, in the bottom of the fourth inning. An error helped load the bases with one out. But Budnick got the next two batters to fly out to end the threat.
The only other time Cascade got a runner in scoring position was the fifth, when Austin Pinorini led off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Budnick struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning.
"I figured it'd be close," Stencil said. "A day like this, with the wind blowing in (toward the infield), I knew runs would be at a premium."
Pinorini led Cascade, batting 2-for-3.
Stencil said he isn't worried about his team responding to the loss when the two teams face off in the final game of the regular season today. The Cascade coach said his team will be ready for the Warriors.
And whoever their opponent is in the first round of the district tournament, which starts Saturday.
"We're 0-0 going into Saturday," Stencil said. "They know what they need to get done. We're obviously disappointed we didn't win the league, but you've got to tip your hat to (the Warriors)."
At Cascade H.S.
Edmonds-Woodway 000 010 0--1 4 2
Cascade 000 000 0--0 5 2
Tate Budnick and Cody Edwards. KJ Brady and Michael Mazza. WP--Budnick. LP--Brady. 3B--Chantz Justice (EW). Records--Edmonds-Woodway 12-2 league, 15-4 overall. Cascade 10-4, 14-5.
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