LACEY — The Timberline Blazers have been shown up by their younger counterparts the past five games, and they weren’t too happy about it.
Timberline’s junior varsity and “C” baseball teams have pulled off double squeezes to perfection game after game, only to see the varsity squad fail to execute.
As coach Matt Acker said, “If we’re going to be in tight games, we have to be able to execute stuff like that.”
So when the Blazers had runners at the corners in the third inning with one out Monday at North Thurston, Acker called the double squeeze with Blake Nystrom, the team’s No. 4 hitter, at the plate.
Nystrom put down the bunt, which brought home Chris Roy and Matt Mercer before a fielder’s choice throw to first base.
Those runs were enough for starter Cobi Beal and relievers Zach Owens and Tony Ortiz in a combined two-hitter as the Blazers beat North Thurston, 2-0.
The win clinched the 3A Narrows League title for the Blazers (15-2, 10-0) and the No. 1 seed at next week’s league tournament at the Regional Athletic Complex.
The Blazers still have games against Shelton on Wednesday and Friday.
It’s Timberline’s fifth league title in the past six years.
Timberline and North Thurston (11-5, 8-2) entered last Friday’s game undefeated in league play before the Blazers pulled off a 5-2 win behind Mercer’s pitching. Before that, the Rams hadn’t lost since March 20. The Blazers, meanwhile, are on a 12-game winning streak.
Monday’s outing was a battle of pitchers Beal (Timberline) and Riley Storedahl (North Thurston).
Storedahl allowed the two runs — both earned — on five hits and struck out six over 6 innings before Ryan Mets entered in relief.
Timberline got its fourth and fifth hits of the game when Roy (2-for-4) and Mercer (1-for-4) each singled to begin the third.
With one out, Nystrom’s bunt brought around Roy. Mercer was a few steps behind.
“I slid and popped up, and (Mercer) was right there,” said Roy, the Blazers’ sophomore left fielder and leadoff hitter. “I was nervous. I didn’t 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 Thurston’s hits were singles by first baseman Hayden Maliska.
“We didn’t swing the bats at all,” North Thurston coach Lance Baker said. “With two hits, you can’t win too many games.”
W.F. West 6, Capital 2: Alex Cox went 2-for-2 with a triple and two runs scored for W.F. West.
Keylen Steen scored twice in the Bearcats’ victory over the Cougars in 2A Evergreen Conference play.
Kameron Minor went 2-for-2 and also scored a run for the Cougars.
Olympia 14, Stadium 4: A nine-run fourth inning helped the Bears win their third game in a row and stay atop the 4A Narrows League.
Leif Hansen struck out five batters in four innings for the win.
Leo Valenti and Cameron Frost had two hits apiece and combined for four RBI for the Bears.
For Timberline-North Thurston baseball game photos from staff photographer Steve Bloom, go to:
www.theolympian.comMeg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org @megwochnick www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports