West Seattle’s Ben Wexler, #28, pitches during Saturday’s tournament against Lakeside. West Seattle won with a final score of 3 to 1.
SLIDESHOW: West Seattle wins tourney opener
By Tim Clinton
Pitching and defense paved the way as West Seattle put away Lakeside, 3-1, in a 1-hour, 11-minute Metro League baseball tournament opener Saturday.
Senior pitcher Ben Wexler threw a four-hitter for the Wildcats, striking out seven and allowing no earned runs.
"I just pitched to my defense, and that's how we get our wins," Wexler said after the action in Mel Olson Stadium at Steve Cox Memorial Park in White Center. "You got to pitch to your defense, especially against a team like that."
"You get a well-pitched game and you can win, and that's what we've been doing lately," said West Seattle head coach Velko Vitalich. "The last five games we've walked only one batter, and you saw our defense. If you get a hard hit ground ball you will get an out."
The Wildcats, who came in as the Metro League Sound Division champions after posting a 12-4 record, advance to play a 4 p.m. semifinal back at Mel Olson Stadium this coming Tuesday.
Tuesday's winner goes to the 7 p.m. Thursday championship game at the same site.
"I'm very happy for the boys," Vitalich said. "They have great enthusiasm, they're focused and getting better. We just keep showing improvement. It's nice to see us get better instead of staying the same."
West Seattle got the early jump on Lakeside in Saturday's fast-paced game, scoring one in the bottom of the first as Morgan McCullough hit into an error and Graham French brought him around with a double.
French also ripped a single to bring in the next run in the third.
The Wildcats tacked on an insurance run in the fifth inning.
Spenser Elder walked, advanced to second on a Cameron Slader sacrifice bunt, and scored on a base hit to left by McCullough.
Lakeside scored its only run in the top of the seventh and final inning.
Andrew Helean barged into the West Seattle first baseman just as the ball got there to knock it away to get a safe call.
BJ Dondoyano pinch ran and reached second on an Adam Hinthorne single.
Both runners advanced on a Ben Hinthorne grounder and Dondoyano scored as Tom Hutchison hit into an error.
But West Seattle got out of the jam and the game when McCullough snagged the ball at shortstop and flipped it to second with the relay to first in time for a double play.
French finished with a 2-for-3 game with two RBI and McCullough hit 1-for-2.
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