There was no doubt Wednesday that the Timberline Blazers were ready for the baseball postseason.
The Blazers, the regular-season champions of the 3A Narrows League, haven’t exactly been swamped with games lately. Wet weather last week forced the cancellation of the league championship game against Yelm, meaning that Timberline entered its 3A West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament Wednesday against Enumclaw having played just two games in two weeks.
The Blazers’ bats quickly ended any thoughts of the team being rusty, roughing up Enumclaw’s pitching in the first four innings of an 11-2 win at Auburn Mountainview High School. The victory took just 1 hour, 41 minutes and clinched a spot at the state tournament for the Blazers.
“We’re really good mentality-wise right now,” Timberline coach Derek Weldon said. “Our guys have answered the bell in big games. They tend to play better in the bigger situations and relish opportunities at the plate in bigger games.
Timberline (13-5), which clinched its third state berth in four seasons, will face Columbia River in a bi-district semifinal at 10 a.m. Saturday at Auburn Mountainview.
Enumclaw grabbed a 2-0 lead against Blazers freshman starter Matt Mercer in the top of the first when Hornets center fielder Tyler Carlton launched a two-run home run. But Timberline answered with runs in each of the first four innings.
After scoring one in the first, Timberline senior Charlie Hinson capped a five-run second inning with a three-run home run to right field to make it 6-2.
An inning later, with the bases loaded for David Padilla, he took a 1-1 pitch off reliever Shayne Sanborn deep into center field for a three-run double to give Timberline a 9-2 advantage. The drive was just short of being a grand slam.
“I thought it was out,” said Padilla, who finished with four RBI.
Enumclaw (10-9), which plays in a loser-out game Saturday, went through four pitchers in five innings.
Mercer, meanwhile, settled down after the first inning. The right-hander gave up only more two hits before exiting after five innings.
4A WEST CENTRAL/SOUTHWEST BI-DISTRICT
Rogers 9, Olympia 3 (loser out): A seven-run fifth inning by Rogers of Puyallup broke open the game in Kent, sending the Rams to state and ending Olympia’s season at 17-3.
Rogers’ Jeff Nelson pitched a four-hitter and struck out seven, including two in the bottom of the seventh with two runners on base.
Olympia, the 4A Narrows regular-season champion, was 17-1 before losing Tuesday and Wednesday. Leo Valenti (2-for-3) and Leif Hansen (1-for-3) drove in all three Bears runs. Nelson, Hunter Nasinec, Heath Dempsey and Gage Gervacio combined for 10 of Rogers hits and six RBI. In the fifth, the Rams seven runs came on four hits, two bases-loaded walks and an error.
2A DISTRICT IV
North Thurston 5, Centralia 1 (semifinals): Sophomore Ryan Mets pitched a two-hitter in the 2A District IV semifinals to lead North Thurston to Friday’s district title game.
North Thurston will face 2A Evergreen Conference champion W.F. West in the district title game at 6 p.m. Friday at Bearcat Stadium in Chehalis. The Bearcats topped Aberdeen, 13-5, in the other semifinal.
North Thurston used a four-run fifth inning to break a scoreless tie. Tyler Ridgeway jump-started the Rams’ offense with a two-run single, and Matt Zeutenhorst followed that with another two-run single. The Rams (14-6) finished with 10 hits.
Tumwater 3: Hockinson 0 (loser out): With the teams locked in a scoreless tie in the seventh inning, Tumwater’s Colton Turner hit a two-run single with one out, and Jayden Croft added an RBI double to keep the Thunderbirds alive
Tumwater sophomore Garrett Terrell pitched a complete game, striking out six and allowing just four hits. He also went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored a run in the seventh.
The T-Birds will face Centralia in another loser-out game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Bearcat Stadium in Chehalis. The winner plays for the district’s third and final state berth at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Yelm 1, Capital 0: Megan Mendonca struck out seven to help Yelm end the regular season with a shutout.
Yelm, the No. 2 seed from the 3A Narrows League, begins tournament play with a loser-out game against Foss at 3 p.m. today at South End Recreation Area in Tacoma.
Capital, the No. 3 seed from the Narrows, will play the winner of today’s Timberline/Lincoln game at 12:30 p.m. Friday, with the winner playing another game that will determine the second and third seeds to next week’s district tournament.
W.F. West senior pitcher Mitch Gueller and Northwest Christian senior Nick Mailhot were named the baseball MVPs of the 2A Evergreen Conference and Pacific 2B League, respectively, on Wednesday.
Gueller, a WSU signee, had an unbeaten record on the mound with a 0.42 ERA in 33 innings during the regular season.
Mailhot, a four-year starter, helped NWC to the 2B District IV tournament this week.