Can anyone beat the Astoria Fishermen? Check back in June, and we'll let you know.

No one was able to do it in May, as the Fishermen capped an undefeated month with a big win over the Newport Cubs Tuesday at Aiken Field, a 7-6 victory that sends the Fish to a place they've never been before.

Astoria will play for a Class 3A state championship (1:30 p.m., tentative) Saturday at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer, where Sherwood will have the last shot to do what no team has been able to do since April 13.

Good luck, Bowmen. Astoria is on a 17-game winning streak and the Fishermen will be throwing their No. 1 pitcher - Matt Brause - who, incidentally, has not lost all year.

Nick Bredleau picked up Tuesday's win and Brause got the save as the Fishermen held off a tough Newport team down the stretch to clinch a trip to Keizer.

Shortly before taking a Gatorade bath, Astoria coach Dave Gasser said, "It's been quite a day. I'm trying to think of a semifinal game that was easy. By definition, they're not. It just works out that way.

"The teams that make it to the semifinals know how to come from behind, there isn't any quit in them, they hit through the lineup ... you just don't get to the semifinals unless you've got good pitching and good hitting."

Bredleau pitched five innings, striking out two with three walks. Newport finished with eight hits to Astoria's five.

"I can't say enough about the job that Nick did," Gasser said. "He went out after not throwing for 12 days, and gave us five really good innings. And there were all sorts of times where if he hadn't made a big pitch, the inning could have been a lot bigger.

"He competed very well. To think that he didn't even play baseball last year, and now he's the winning pitcher in a state semifinal game."

The Cubs came to Aiken Field with a 24-3 record on the season - a respectable mark, but one that didn't intimidate the Fishermen, who now sport a nice 24-4 record of their own.

"I don't think we were intimidated," said Astoria's Brendan Landwehr, one of Tuesday's heroes. "We had the longest winning streak coming in, and we've got a lot of momentum. We looked at them, and we're thinking it might be a tough game, but I knew that once we got Bredleau a lead, then he could just mow people down and we'd be fine with that."

Senior Kye Johnson has seen a lot of highs and lows of Astoria baseball over the last four years, and said, "I think the best thing coach Gasser brings to the table is that no matter who we're playing, it's not a concern of how good they are.

"The mentality coming into a game is completely different. It's almost like it doesn't matter who they put out there against us.

"We know we're going to do well and we know we're going to get the job done. And there it was."

Kevin Berry, another senior, said, "I was a little intimidated by the fact that (the Cubs) averaged 10 runs a game, but when you play teams like Toledo and put up 31 runs, that brings the average up."

And it was the Cubs who jumped on the board first, a solo home run by Matt Staffenson in the top of the first inning.

Astoria responded quickly, as Brent Culver drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first, then sprinted home on a double by Berry (see Play-by-Play in Scoreboard, page 6).

Then, with one swing of the bat, Landwehr put Astoria ahead to stay when the junior catcher sent a Chase Meister pitch over the left field fence for a three-run homer.

It was a "one-step-forward, two-steps-back" kind of day for the Cubs, who scored again in the second, only to give up two runs in the bottom of the inning. Brause drew a bases-loaded walk and Johnson reached on a fielder's choice to score Culver.

Astoria had just two hits through three innings, but led 7-3.

"That definitely didn't hurt," Berry said. "And Brendan Landwehr hitting one 400 feet didn't hurt, either."

One more Newport run in the third inning, one more answer from the Fish, as Landwehr belted a leadoff home run in the bottom of the inning.

Needless to say, the home runs were the two biggest swings of Landwehr's career to date.

"Definitely," Landwehr said. "Coming into this game, I had one home run all year. And the swing I put on both of those pitches felt great. The first one was awesome, the second one was unreal."

The Cubs didn't go without a fight.

Newport scored twice on three hits and two Astoria errors in the fourth, and Giovanni Barbers slapped a solo home run to left to start the fifth.

Bredleau managed to get out of the inning with the lead still intact, then gave way to Brause in the sixth.

And Brause did what Brause does best, setting down six of the seven batters he faced to end the game.

"We wanted him to throw about 25 pitches, and he came in and got six outs on 23," Gasser said.

Brause's battery mate, Landwehr, said, "It's kind of like Eric Gagne with L.A. - you bring him in and the game's done.

"He goes right after batters with fastballs and curve balls. It's hard to keep up with him sometimes, and it does hurt when I catch it right on the palm."

Berry said, "Once Matt comes in, it's over. That's the kind of the mindset we like to keep thinking. As long we make the plays behind him.

"I'm not gonna lie - it feels good to win," he added. "Especially when it's your last year ... you like to know that you're doing everything you can. We have one more game left, and that's all we can do."

And as the sun began to set on Aiken Field, it still hadn't dawned on the Fishermen that they will be taking part in a state championship.

"Absolutely not," Johnson said. "It will later, I'm sure."

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