Johnson sparks Bears’ win over rival Cougars

OLYMPIA — The only baseball team to defeat Olympia this year was from the Class 3A Western Cascade Conference.

Second baseman Joel Johnson ensured it wouldn’t happen again Saturday.

Johnson went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI to help the Bears to an 11-7 nonleague road win against the crosstown rival Capital Cougars.

It didn’t start well for the Cougars (7-9). After Olympia’s Carter Manning led off the game with a single, Willie Willard hit a fly ball into left-center field. Capital left fielder Joe Tolman and center fielder Dylan Smith both pursued the ball and ended up colliding. Manning scored after tagging up, and Tolman had to be assisted off the field.

“It was just two competitors that both wanted to get the baseball,” Capital coach Eric Stark said. “Obviously they didn’t communicate well enough. It’s kind of epitomized our season.”

Stark said Tolman suffered a left-knee contusion and possibly a concussion.

“He said he had a headache, and we sent him to the emergency room,” he said. “We try and take things like that very seriously.”

Olympia (15-1), which suffered its only loss in a 4-3 setback April 3 against Yelm, scored another run in the first inning when Garett Hall hit a two-out single to drive in Kramer Skidmore.

The Bears extended their lead to 3-0 in the third inning when Willard, who had doubled, crossed home plate on a wild pitch.

Capital tied the game in the bottom half of the inning. Willard, Olympia’s starting pitcher, walked the bases loaded with two outs, and Jourdan Weiks hit a two-run single to center field. Michael Monda tied the game with a single to right-center field. But after Willard hit Morgan Sparks with a pitch, Harry Bly flew out to left field to end the inning.

Soon after that was when Johnson ended any hopes of an upset for the Cougars.

After Quinn Batt walked and Drew Schultz singled in the fourth inning off Capital starter Eli Fulton, Johnson stepped up and hit a two-run double to left-center. Johnson later scored in on a single by Willard to extend the Bears’ lead to 6-3.

“If some team gets ahead, you have to answer back, or you will be out of the game,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to do my part.”

Olympia then added three runs in the fifth when Johnson homered on an 0-2 pitch from reliever Michael Kulina.

“I was just trying to put a good swing on it,” Johnson said. “It just carried out of the park.”

The Bears added a run in both the sixth and seventh innings. Chris Womac hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Willard in the sixth, and Tanner Fijolek scored in the seventh when Weiks bobbled a ground ball, making it 11-4.

Capital, which got a run in the sixth when Smith scored on a single by Weiks, added three more in the seventh off Hall. Sparks and Bly scored when Cole Loncar, who replaced Hall in right field, misplayed a single by Jordan Coleman.

It could have been more, but Manning, Olympia’s third baseman, had made a leaping catch on a hard line drive by Jason Monda during the previous at-bat. Hall then induced Pat Meyer into a groundout and struck out Smith to end the game — and secure the Bears’ win over their rivals.

“You get to back up your talk,” Johnson said. “That’s always a good feeling.”