By Meg Wochnick
LACEY – In the midst of a 37-minute second-inning rain delay, Timberline starting pitcher Brandon Olson kept loose in more ways than one. A long-sleeved shirt kept his arm warm, and his Blazers teammates kept the dugout’s spirits happy-go-lucky, too.
“They make it pretty easy,” he said.
Olson didn’t need much run support after the Blazers put up a two-spot in the first inning of Friday’s 3A Narrows League baseball tournament title game. That’s because he took a perfect game into the fifth inning, and a no-hitter into the sixth in what was the Blazers’ 8-1 win over North Thurston.
The seeds to the bi-district tournament have significance for both teams: Timberline gets a first-round bye and plays in a winner-to-state game at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Tacoma’s Heidelberg Park, while North Thurston (15-5) has a tougher road to state. The Rams face the winner of Saturday’s Enumclaw/Hazen game at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Heidelberg in a loser-out contest.
Olson retired 13 straight batters, as Timberline (19-2) built an 8-0 lead through three innings. After surrendering two walks in the fifth, Ben Rood’s infield grounder ended the no-hit bid in the sixth. After North Thurston won both of the regular-season meetings against Timberline – both games 2-1 -- including last Saturday’s regular-season finale, the Blazers’ offense put up 10 hits; they combined for five hits in the two earlier losses to the Rams.
“They came out a lot more loose,” Olson said of the Blazers’ offense. “When they got ahead earlier, they couldn’t stop.
Benny Kaleiwahea and Blake Nystrom both had multi-hit games, each going 2-for-4. Kaleiwahea’s bases-clearing triple in the second put Timberline ahead, 5-0, and followed it up with an RBI single in the third off North Thurston starter Ryan Mets.
For the Rams, they were held to two hits, including one for extra bases (Hayden Maliska's lead-off double in the seventh), but committed a season-high five errors. Three of those errors came in the first inning.
“It’s the kiss of death in this game,” Rams coach Lance Baker said. “… You do that you have a tough time winning."