LACEY – For its biggest game of the season to date, Timberline called on its youngest player to take the mound.
Freshman Matt Mercer got the Blazers off to a strong start, then got clutch relief junior Ty Carlton, before the Timberline bats heated up in a 10-2 victory over Yelm in a game between two of the top teams in the 3A Narrows League.
“The kids call him ‘Matty Ice,’ ” Timberline coach Derek Weldon said of Mercer, who allowed one Tornados run on four hits in 32/3 innings.
Timberline, 8-1 in league play and 11-4 overall, solidified its hold on first place with the victory.
After Yelm scored once in the third on an RBI single by Patrick McFadden and then loaded the bases with two outs, Mercer stifled further damage by striking out Bryan Miskimens to end the inning.
In the fourth, Mercer struck out the first two batters before Yelm loaded the bases again on a bunt single by Eddie Pablo and a pair of walks.
Weldon called on Carlton, who struck out Justin Polzin to deny the Tornados.
“He’s kind of been our go-to guy in relief,” Weldon said of Carlton.
On offense, Timberline made maximum use of its nine hits.
In the first, the Blazers went up 1-0 on a sacrifice fly by Charlie Hinson, one of three Timberline seniors.
The Blazers got RBI singles from David Padilla and Cobi Beal in a four-run third. Senior Ryan Tydingco drove in a run with a double in the fourth, and Brennon Kaleiwahea singled in a run in the fifth.
In the sixth, Blazers sophomore Blake Nystrom stepped to the plate with a runner aboard and drove a pitch from Chase Smith over the right-field fence for his first high school home run. Later in the inning, Hinson got his second sacrifice fly of the game.
Yelm coach Brady Hoover lamented missed opportunities and too many “free baserunners” – nine Blazers reached on walks or being hit by a pitch.
Timberline stole seven bases in the game.
“They capitalized,” Hoover said. “We didn’t.”
The good news for the Tornados (10-4, 6-3) is that they get another crack at the Blazers right away in a 4 p.m. game Wednesday at Yelm.