Tumwater baseball coach Jamie Weeks figured his squad was due to break out of its recent hitting slump.
But going 8-for-11 with runners in scoring position and getting a double from six different batters?
Well, that’s significantly harder to forecast, no matter how gifted your lineup is.
“I don’t think we’ve ever done that here before,” Weeks said. “And certainly not in a game as important as this.”
The Thunderbirds smacked seven doubles, including four in a six-run fifth, to prolong their season with a 9-1 victory over Capital in the Class 2A District IV tournament in Chehalis on Saturday.
With the win, Tumwater, the regular season 2A Evergreen Conference champions, earn the district’s third and final berth into regionals.
The T-Birds (20-4) continue postseason play on May 24 in Chehalis. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m.
“We’re heading in as a three seed,” Weeks said. “I’m not sure we’re your typical three seed, but we’re happy to be going.”
Tumwater cruised through the regular season, consistently being ranked among the state’s top teams, but had stumbled offensively during its previous four games, combining to score just nine runs over the past 32 innings.
The T-Birds opened district play by defeating the Cougars, 3-2, in 11 innings.
Then they were bounced into the loser bracket following a 7-1 defeat to W.F. West.
Tumwater opened the day by knocking off R.A. Long, 2-1, getting a strong performance from pitcher Garrett Terrell.
Despite the win, the T-Birds’ bats remained relatively dormant.
Ian Sugrue woke them up in the first inning against Capital by hammering Tumwater’s first double in the first inning.
It was as if the catcher’s hit to the left-field wall opened the floodgates for the T-Birds, as everyone else in the lineup followed suit.
A Clayton Boze double drove in Sugrue, then Riley Owen hit a single to put Tumwater up 2-0.
“It was just contagious,” said Owen, who was one of the few T-Birds to not hit a double, but did add three hits and an RBI. “We’ve been relying on our defense the last few games. Today, everyone got involved on offense.”
An Anthony Correia RBI increased the T-Birds’ lead to 3-0 in the second.
The Cougars pulled within two runs on Mitch Dooley’s RBI in the fifth, but Tumwater answered by pushing six runs across in its half of the inning.
Tanner Angel opened up the offensive barrage with an RBI double before a Keenan Milligan single made it 6-1.
Milligan’s hit was the first of four straight for the T-Birds. The next three would be doubles — all of which drove in a run.
“We’ve been a little tentative with our hitting the last couple of games,” Weeks said. “We’re an experienced team. We made some small adjustments, but they knew it was eventually going to get better.”
Elijah Hill pitched a complete game, giving up four hits.
“Elijah was great. He pounded the strike zone and that’s what we wanted,” Weeks said. “Now we get a week to rest Garrett and Elijah. We’re very happy with our situation heading into next week.”
The loss ends Capital’s season, but capped a strong postseason run by the Cougars.
Entering the district tournament as the EvCo’s fifth-place team, Capital lost to Tumwater in the first round before defeating Mark Morris in extra innings in the first of three loser-out games.
The Cougars defeated Black Hills, 2-0, earlier in the day to advance to play Tumwater as senior Dane Klenk pitched a complete-game one-hitter against the Wolves.
“(Dane) showed exactly why he’s one of the top pitchers in the area. He was phenomenal,” Capital coach Jesse Elam said. “As a team we made huge strides at the end of the season. We were one game away from making regionals. It’s something to be proud of.”