OLYMPIA - Colin Lang didn't need a reminder of how big the Olympia-Gig Harbor 4A Narrows League baseball regular-season final series was.
Rain and unplayable field conditions kept the Bears anxiously waiting to play two games with the league title in the balance.
So when Lang took the mound Friday afternoon for the first of a home-and-home series, it was his best outing of the season. He threw a complete-game, five-hitter, and also got great defense behind him in the Bears’ 3-1 victory over the Tides at Crandall Field.
“We had to step up and play a good game,” said Lang, who also went 1-for-3 at the plate. “... I went out there and gave it my all. I had the team behind me the entire time. I pitched a full seven innings, and that’s what it takes.”
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Olympia (13-5 overall, 11-2 league) controls its future today at noon at Gig Harbor. If the Bears win the finale, they earn the 4A Narrows title and a No. 1 seed to West Central/Southwest bi-district starting Tuesday. But if the Bears lose, things get tricky.
• If Olympia and South Kitsap lose today, the two will play in a tiebreaker game Monday at Tacoma’s Heidelberg Park.
• If South Kitsap beats Central Kitsap today, and Olympia loses to Gig Harbor, the Bears fall to third place. There also could be a tiebreaker game between South Kitsap and Gig Harbor, pending today’s outcomes.
Lang (3-1) only had four first-pitch strikes in Friday’s 1-hour, 28-minute game but didn’t get too deep in the count on many batters he faced because of his mix of pitches. He got into a 3-2 count six times, but five led to outs (two flyouts, two groundouts, a strikeout). The 2-3-4 hitters for Gig Harbor were a combined 1-for-9.
The one run scored was a season-low for the Tides (13-3 overall, 11-2 league), which had averaged 9.4 runs a game – including eight games of scoring 10 or more runs.
“Colin did what he’s been doing all year,” Olympia coach Todd McDougall said. “He was aggressive in the zone and has a great change-up to keep guys off balance. And we played great defense behind him tonight, which was really important.”
In the second inning, the Bears went seven batters to the plate, and had two runners on with two outs for No. 8 hitter Brady Batt. The junior ripped a 3-2 pitch from Tides ace Michael McCall to deep center field for a double that scored Eric O’Bryan and Eric Evans to give Olympia a 2-0 lead.
Gabe Padukiewicz’s two-out single in the third brought home courtesy runner Kyle Pine to extend the Bears’ lead to 3-1.
McCall, an Oregon State signee whose fastball has reached the low-90s, struggled after a 1-2-3 first inning, including two strikeouts. All three of the Bears’ runs were earned, and three of McCall’s four walks came in the second. Three of his six strikeouts came in the first two innings.
“You’re not going to get seven or eight runs off him,” McDougall said. “We were able to make the three we got work.”
Olympia played superb defense behind Lang. The Bears committed no errors and had great plays from Cabe Reiten at shortstop, catcher Casey Thorpe and right fielder Cole Loncar. Loncar’s sliding catch in right and throw back to first kept Spencer Manjarrez from going to second, which would’ve been only the second Tides runner to be in scoring position in the game. In the third, Thorpe threw out Justin Bonnell as he tried to steal second to end the inning.
Lucas Marshall, who had a leadoff double in the second, scored the Tides’ run on a Parker Guinn’s fielder’s choice.
“(This win) definitely means we can beat their best guys,” Lang said. “Now, we just have to take that ... and go at them tomorrow.”