TACOMA — Elliott Loague was as focused on the weather as he was on his morning classes at Olympia High School on Friday.
The sky darkened. Large clouds loomed. Intermittent rain fell, leaving the campus soaked.
“You look outside,” Loague said, “and get disappointed.”
But after receiving a text message in his microbiology class around noon saying the Bears’ big game at Bellarmine Prep was still on, suddenly Loague turned letdown into intense focus.
Hours later, Loague and the Bears celebrated the school’s first seven-inning no-hitter since 2008, blanking Bellarmine Prep, 2-0, at Fuchs Field.
The win broke a tie atop the 4A Narrows League standings, giving the Bears (13-4 overall, 8-1 league) a sweep of the season series and the inside track agaionst Bellarmine Prep (11-4, 7-2) for their sixth consecutive league crown.
“Today was important,” Olympia coach Greg Creighton said, “but it doesn’t mean much if we don’t finish it out next week.”
Loague (seven strikeouts, 84 pitches) emerged the winner in a pitchers’ duel with Lions’ ace Harry Stenberg (three-hitter, seven strikeouts, 93 pitches) after Gabe Padukiewicz knocked in both runs on a bloop double to right field in the sixth inning.
“I told the kids, it is nobody’s fault,” Bellarmine Prep coach Rick Barnhart said. “We had been hitting pretty well, and had scored a lot of runs. For some kid to just go out and no-hit us, that surprises me a little bit.”
Through five innings, both pitchers were cruising, utilizing their breaking pitches to set up effective fastballs. Stenberg had walked one batter, and allowed a single to Jake Biscay; Loague had given the Lions nothing.
Olympia put its first runner – Biscay – in scoring position with two outs in the sixth. Leo Valenti walked on four pitches, bringing up Padukiewicz.
And Padukiewicz got enough of Stenberg’s outside slider to send a pop-up into no-man’s land between second baseman Jairus Richards and right fielder Paul Huiras. The two collided going for the ball, and Biscay and Valenti scored.
“Off the bat, I kind of knew that was trouble,” Padukiewicz said. “I saw both of them running in … and I was like, ‘This has the ability to be a big play in this game right now.’ ”
Given a 2-0 lead, Loague pumped a high fastball past Brandon Thompson for the first out of the seventh, got Andrew Patubo to pop out to first base for the second out – and closed the game out by striking out George Foley on another fastball.
Ever had a no-hitter before? Loague smiled.
“I threw one on ‘C’ team and one on (junior varsity),” said Loague, who had a perfect game ruined on an infield error in the sixth inning. “I had to get one at the highest level.”
Timberline 5, North Thurston 2: Sophomore Matt Mercer pitched a three-hitter as the Blazers extended their winning streak to 11 games in a battle of the 3A Narrows League’s only unbeaten teams.
Blake Nystrom went 2-for-3 with three RBI and two stolen bases.
Rams starter Tyler Ridgeway struck out eight in six innings but took the loss. Hayden Maliska had a two-run home run in the seventh for North Thurston.Staff writer Meg Wochnick contributed to this report. Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 firstname.lastname@example.org @ManyHatsMilles