Western Washington University’s baseball team left Oregon this weekend as Northern Pacific Regional Champions after winning three games to take the tournament.
The Vikings first beat the University of Montana 9-4, then took on Idaho State University with victories of 7-3 and 2-1. The final game didn't come easy, though.
Western was forced to defeat Idaho by a squeeze bunt from the championship MVP, senior shortstop Pete Carlson.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the score was 1-0 with Carlson up to bat and Head Coach John Barney on third base. Assistant coach Rhett Richards, the third base coach at the time, explained the play.
“Pete looks down at me at third base with these wide eyes,” Richards said. “This told him Pete wanted to go for the bunt. So I gave him the sign.”
The next few moments were tense for the entire team as they stared on with their hope of going to Florida handing in the balance. Just one play stood between the Vikings and their second regional tournament championship in the last three years.
“Pete ‘The Cowboy’ Carlson picks this beautiful bunt down, it rolls soft and tenderly on the grass,” Richards said. “And Barney, being the ostrich that he is, just goes in there, almost takes out the catcher and scores the go-ahead run making it 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth.”
Carlson also had an RBI single, batting in both runs in the second game against Idaho. He also had several RBIs in the previous game, Richards said.
“We all work together as one,” he said. “But Pete, when it comes down to it, was just a pure executioner.”
With the regional title under its arm, the baseball team plans to head to the World Series in Tampa, Fla. for the game against the University of Illinois on May 24.
The team went to the World Series two years ago and left as the No. 5 team among the 220 teams in the country, Barney said. At the time, the team was just happy to be there, but it will be different this year, Barney said.
“We’re happy to win regionals but we are not satisfied,” Carlson said.
As long as the team plays up to their potential, he said they have a real chance to win the World Series.
Much like the rugby team, baseball's main obstacle is now to raise the $10,000 needed to make it to the World Series.