By Meg Wochnick
LACEY -- The Timberline Blazers were shown by their younger counterparts the past five games, and they werent too happy about it.
The programs junior-varsity and C teams have pulled off a double-squeezes to perfection, only to see the varsity squad fail to execute. As as head coach Matt Acker explained, If were going to be in tight games, we have to be able to execute stuff like that.
So when the Blazers had runners on at the corners in the third with one out in Mondays game against North Thurston, Acker called the double squeeze with Blake Nystrom, the teams No. 4 hitter, at the plate. Nystrom lay down the bunt, which brought home Chris Roy and Matt Mercer before a fielders choice throw to first base. Those two runs were enough for starter Cobi Beal and relievers Zach Owens and Tony Ortiz in a combined two-hitter for the Blazers 2-0 win over North Thurston Monday afternoon in a battle between the top two teams in the 3A Narrows League.
The win also secures the 3A Narrows League title for the Blazers (15-2 overall, 10-0 3A Narrows League) and the leagues No. 1 seed at next weeks league tournament at the Regional Athletic Complex regardless of the outcome on the final two games against Shelton Wednesday and Friday. Its the Blazers fifth league title in the past six years.
Last Friday, both teams entered the game undefeated in league play before the Blazers pulled off a 5-2 win over the Rams behind the pitching of Mercer. Prior to that, the Rams hadnt lost since March 20; the Blazers winning streak is now at 12 games.
Mondays Round 2 outing was a battle of pitchers: Beal for Timberline and Riley Storedahl for North Thurston. Storedahl allowed just the two runs -- both earned -- on five hits and struck out six over 6 1/3 innings before exiting in place of Ryan Mets. Timberline got hits Nos. 4 and 5 of the game to begin the third when Roy (2-for-4) and Mercer (1-for-4) each had singles. Thats when with one out, Nystroms bunt brought around Roy and right on his tail from first base was Mercer just a few steps behind Roy.
I slid and popped up and (Mercer) was right there, said Roy, the Blazers sophomore left fielder and lead-off hitter. I was nervous. I didnt know if (Nystrom) was going to get the bunt down, but he got it down. It was pretty awesome.
Beal tossed five innings of shutout ball for the win, striking out two. Beal, Owens and Ortiz combined to shut down the Rams in order in the second, third, fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Both of North Thurstons (11-5, 8-2) hits came from on singles by first baseman Hayden Maliska.
We didnt swing the bats at all, North Thurston coach Lance Baker said. With two hits, you cant win too many games.