Justin Polzin has been Parker McFadden’s catcher for 10 years, so naturally he knows when the Yelm High School ace is spot on with his pitches.
For Polzin, he recognized it as early as McFadden’s warm-up sessions in the bullpen before the Tornados’ 4A Narrows League baseball opener against Timberline on Monday afternoon.
And a two-run first-inning was all the Tornados’ offense needed to give McFadden in their league opener: a 2-1 victory over the Blazers behind a nine-strikeout performance over five innings from the hard-throwing right-hander, plus a two-inning relief appearance from Polzin.
“It was the best start he’s had all year,” Polzin said. “He was on the whole game.”
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A hit-by-pitch at the game’s first batter, a Timberline throwing error and hits by Polzin (double) and Indy Keesler (single) led to both runs for the Tornados (6-1 overall, 1-0 4A Narrows).
That two-run cushion was enough for McFadden; the Washington State signee exited after five innings of two-hit ball on 82 pitches with a 2-0 lead. After the Blazers’ Chris Roy beat out the throw to first for a first-inning single, McFadden retired the next 12 batters, including seven strikeouts. His fastball topped out at 94 mph, sitting just below that, and kept the Blazers’ offense at bay.
“That kid was special today,” Timberline coach Mark Rubadue said. “It was a different velocity, for sure. Maybe he’ll make us better in the long run.”
Timberline’s hitters stayed aggressive, fouling off pitches and getting ahead in counts, leading coach Brady Hoover to pull McFadden in favor of Polzin, whom Hoover said has starting pitcher qualities as an all-league catcher.
That’s when the Blazers (5-1, 2-1) made their move offensively. With two one and one out in the sixth, Timberline’s cleanup hitter, Tony Ortiz, hit an RBI single to drive home Roy that made it 2-1 Yelm. The following inning, Polzin began the inning rocky — a hit-by-pitch for the second straight inning, this time to Jonathan Dowell, which put the leadoff man on-base — but Polzin struck out the side to win the game.
“I struggled with that first batter,” Polzin said, “but then I dialed in.”
Despite the early deficit, Timberline starter Zach Owens settled in, allowing one earned run on five hits, striking out four. The home-and-home series concludes at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Regional Athletic Complex.
Bri Bell’s 3-run home run in the top of the seventh inning helped Olympia to a 6-3 victory over South Kitsap in 4A Narrows League action. Pitcher Maddy Stensby had 15 strikeouts as well as an RBI double.
After going winless the past three seasons, River Ridge has won two straight games after its 10-4 nonleague victory over Lincoln, highlighted by Bri Attwood’s 2-home run.
Megan Porche, Grace Utto-Galarneau, Brooklyn Taylor-Sparks and Aundrea Temple had three hits apiece and combined for 10 RBI and 11 runs in Timberline’s 21-6 win over Stadium in 4A Narrows action. Ten of the Blazers’ runs came in the second inning.
Ashley Skillingstad and Tara Geimer each had three singles and a combined three runs scored to help North Thurston to a 6-3 win over Shelton in 3A Narrows League play.