By Meg Wochnick
TUMWATER -- When the runs dont come early, thanks to quality pitching performances, small ball is in order to manufacture runs.
Thats what Tumwater did in its 3-0 shutout of previously unbeaten Black Hills in the teams Friday afternoon 2A Evergreen Conference baseball game that took a swift 1 hour, 26 minutes to complete at Tumwater High School.
In one of the nicest days of the spring came the best pitching outing of the season by sophomore Elijah Hill, according to Thunderbirds coach Jamie Weeks. The 6-foot-3 right-hander was in control all game, tossing a complete-game shutout, allowing just three hits and striking out six batters -- five of them swinging -- against an offense that averaged 8.8 runs a game and hadnt been shutout.
This was huge, said Hill, who improved to 3-0. It felt good to get into a roll before spring break started.
The T-Birds (6-3 overall, 5-3 2A EvCo) notched the win with steals, hit-and-runs, and good baserunning. Although they mustered four hits off Black Hills starter Austin Lee, who threw a gem in the loss on just 68 pitches, they made their hits count. Justin Grahams RBI single to right scored Richard Schmidt, a pinch-runner for Hill who notched the teams first hit in the bottom of the third. And in the sixth, still nursing a 1-0 lead, Tumwater put up two runs on a Anthony Correias single and a throwing error.
Lee did everything he could to keep the first-place Wolves (6-1 overall, 5-1 EvCo) in the hunt for the win. In addition to throwing a complete-game, four-hitter in the loss, he accounted for ⅔ of the Wolves offense with a single and a double in his first two plate appearances.
But mental errors on the basepaths hurt the Wolves offense. Three times, in the second, third and sixth innings, Black Hills runners were thrown out at third base, including a pickoff at third to end the sixth inning. Its best shot for run production came in the fourth when it had runners on second after catcher Kris OBannon doubled. But calmly, Hill worked his way out of the jam when he struck out Taylin Parr looking to end the inning.
Hes coming into form, Weeks said of Hill. He stepped up today. He is the perfect mentality pitcher. He goes out and does his job.
In spite the loss, the six wins by Black Hills already has equaled its win total from 2012 when it went 6-14.