Wildcat bats keep rolling, Westview beats Beaverton
Outwardly, it feels like Westview doesn't have a glaring weakness.
The Wildcats' starting pitching rotation runs deep with three ace-like arms in Willie Weiss, Ben Braukmann and Jacob Cox. The defense is undivided and dependable.
But maybe above all what makes this Westview team most vicious is its starting lineup. The Wildcats have trotted out great batting orders before with players who are now starring at the highest level of collegiate baseball. But not many Westview rosters of yesteryear have been so balanced or risky for the opposing pitcher. There are no loopholes, no assured outs, no selected targets to go after and gameplan for.
And when Westview is raking collectively, watch out. The Wildcats pounded out 17 team hits and 14 runs against rival Beaverton on Tuesday, rolling to a 14-2 win at Westview High School in the first of a two-game series.
"When we're on we're the best hitting team in the state and nobody can stop us," Westview senior catcher Carter Sakamoto said. "It was just one of those days where we were all seeing the ball great and making (Beaverton's) pitching pay for mistakes."
Beaverton, on the heels of manhandling Jesuit 9-0 on Monday and nearly knocking off of the Crusaders on Friday in a 5-4 defeat, dug itself a 10-0 hole going into the top of the fourth against Westview and never responded.
"Unfortunately I don't think we were quite there mentally," Beaverton sophomore Kellen O'Connor said. "We weren't necessarily ready to play and it showed on the field. Westview is a really good team, so it's tough. Next time we just need to start off strong in the first inning and ride that wave of momentum and carry it on. We'll get the energy up."
In a heralded rivalry that's swung the balance of power in the Metro League back and forth over the years, Westview had the firm upper hand in round one with the second game of the series slated for Thursday at Beaverton.
"Beaverton always has a great team and brings the game to you," Sakamoto said. "There's a lot of tension in-between the lines. Thankfully we came out on top today, but we have to bring it Thursday."
Junior Connor Patrick and sophomore John Oleson both had an RBI in the top of the fourth for Beaverton. O'Connor led the Beavers with two hits including a single to lead off the first inning.
Every Wildcat regular collected at least one base knock with Weiss, Braukmann, Cox and Evan Williamson each bagging two hits while Sakamoto, senior Mante Woods and freshman Mason Guerra both had three apiece. Westview batted around in the bottom of the second with Guerra opening the floodgates with a two-run single. Weiss, Woods and Braukmann all added RBIs as Westview opened up a 6-0 lead. Josh Moreno walked with the bases loaded in the third, then Braukmann and Woods brought home runs to go up 10-0. Everybody mashed, everybody ate. Breadwinners like Weiss, Woods and Sakamato are doing their part at the plate, but it's been the continued emergence of Moreno, Braukmann, Guerra, Williamson that's rounded out the order and made Westview even more formidable to face.
Westview (10-3, 3-0 in Metro), ranked No. 2 in the latest Class 6A power rankings, has won five of its last six. Braukmann continued to shine on the mound, throwing six innings of two-run ball against Beaverton.
"Benny was spotting up today, all of his pitches had movement and he was throwing all of them for strikes," Braukmann said. "He's always had good command, but today it was extra."
Weiss is Westview's opening day starter atop the rotation, but Braukmann and Cox have pitched potently as the Wildcats' second and third starters. When it's their turn to take the bump, both seniors have excelled, giving Westview a rarefied three-headed succession of reliable right arms to go to.
"(Braukmann and Cox) could honestly be the No. 1 guy at another high school," Sakamoto said. "(Weiss) is the best pitcher in the state and then to have those two guys pitch the way they have, man, that's tough to beat. It's fun for me to catch, I'll tell you that. All three of those guys gives us a chance to win."