EVERETT — Olympia High’s Michael Fairchild jumped all over a 1-2 pitch and his teammates sprinted out of the home dugout Saturday at Everett Memorial Stadium in jubilation after they saw the ball soar out of the park.
At a movie theater a two-hour drive south of the field, Todd McDougall, accompanied by his wife Julie, Capital High principal and good friend Chris Woods and others, just finished watching “42,” the film about Jackie Robinson, when he received news that the team he coached since 1993 rallied to tie defending Class 4A state champion Kentwood in the bottom of the seventh inning.
His wife replied to a text from Laurie Creighton, the wife of Olympia interim coach Greg Creighton.
“Todd just out (of) movie, gives a fist pump!” Julie McDougall texted.
Todd wanted to see the 4A state quarterfinal game in person, but the malignant tumor discovered in the center of his brain in early December wears on him and the trip would have been too hard on the coach.
Olympia trailed by five runs in the sixth inning before the Bears rallied, capped by Fairchild’s home run.
Kentwood broke the game open in the eighth inning, thanks to scintillating catcher Reese McGuire, to end the Bears’ roller-coaster season with a 13-7 decision in extra innings.
The Bears finish one game away from a trip to Pasco for the state semifinals.
“This would have been really special if we could have pulled this off,” said Greg Creighton, who filled in for Todd McDougall at the coach’s request. “With everything that’s happened this year, it would have been pretty special. It would have been a fairy tale.”
The Bears trailed Kentwood in the bottom of the sixth, 6-1.
Olympia scored four runs – all with two outs, including Joey Knight’s three-run homer – to trail by a run and set up Fairchild’s home run the next inning.
But McGuire, a University of San Diego commit who is projected to be a high first-round pick in June’s MLB draft, brought home the go-ahead run on a double before getting caught in a rundown between third base and second.
Olympia then had Michael Cianco in a pickle between home and third, but Cianco scored on a throwing error as Kentwood took an 8-6 lead.
“Instead of being sad about (Olympia’s comeback), I think everyone just got a little (mad),” said McGuire, who went 3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and four RBI while making several key defensive plays. “We said, ‘Let’s go get it back.’ ”
His double would be the second of a string of eight consecutive Kentwood hits that led to seven runs in the eighth inning.
McDougall was Olympia’s inspiration this season.
The Bears beat Lake Stevens, 12-1, earlier in the day to advance to the tournament quarterfinals for the third time in school history.
“They left it all on the field. I think,” said Creighton, who paused because he was overcome with emotion.
“What they’ve had to deal with … with Coach out … we were good.”
While McDougall could not make it to the state games, he made a surprise visit at the team’s “Walk of Fame” at the school on Friday to send the boys’ golf and baseball teams off to state. McDougall entered just as the golf team finished its walk down the hall and the baseball team was about to start.
McDougall was front and center after Gabe Padukiewicz pushed McDougall’s wheelchair down the hallway and a group of five or six players lifted it down the stairs.
McDougall couldn’t make it to the game, with Creighton saying his friend, who was named the Narrows League coach of the year, is “not good right now.” But Creighton relayed another text from Julie McDougall as the team huddled after the game.
“Todd said to tell them they did a great job this season and he is proud of their effort and attitude,” said the text from Julie McDougall to Laurie Creighton.
“Our initial goal for this season, from day one, has been around honoring him,” Greg Creighton said. “I hope we did what we wanted for him. I’m going to have to take some time to sit and reflect on this season. It’s been such an emotional roller coaster. Where do you start?
“Just from me coming in and feeling totally inadequate to fill his shoes, to maneuver and get through different parts of the season and just trying to get the kids in the best position they can to be successful. … I don’t know what I’m going to take from this season. But I’m pretty emotionally, physically exhausted and I’m sure our coaching staff and our players are as well.
“It would have been sweet, unbelievable had we moved on. The thing is that Todd will be the overriding theme of the whole season. I just hope we honored him.”TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677 email@example.com @Cotterill44