Throughout their run to the 4A Narrows League regular-season title, the Olympia Bears trailed late in a game and needed a comeback once.
It was too-little-too-late in a three-run loss to Gig Harbor on April 18, just like it was during Tuesday’s 4A West Central/Southwest bi-district baseball winner-to-state game against Tahoma.
Although Olympia was able to push one run across after trailing by two to the Tahoma Bears in the seventh inning, some early-game mistakes put Olympia in a hole in the 8-7 loss at Curtis High School.
Olympia (17-2) is in a must-win situation, needing a victory at 7 p.m. today against the Rogers Rams in a loser-out game at Art Wright Field at Kent Memorial Park to make the 4A state tournament for the fourth time in five seasons.
Tahoma clinched a state berth and will play in the district semifinals Saturday.
“It’s more about us than anything else,” Olympia coach Todd McDougall said. “We just have to go out and play better. We have to bounce back (today) and play baseball like we’ve played all year.”
Tahoma built early leads of 2-0 and 3-0 before Olympia’s first rally of four runs gave the home Bears a 6-3 advantage.
Tahoma outhit Olympia, 10-9, but Olympia was held to three hits after its five-run third inning.
In that third inning, Olympia sent eight batters to the plate and got a pair of two-RBI hits, from Joey Knight and Leif Hansen. The two combined to drive in five of the Bears’ seven runs.
Tahoma’s top of the lineup did most of the damage offensively. Connor Cloyd, Troy LaBrie and John Bodenhamer combined for six hits and five RBI.
Bodenhamer, the cleanup hitter, started Tahoma’s four-run fourth inning with a two-run double to deep right-center, his second two-RBI double of the game, that gave Tahoma a 7-6 lead.
Trailing 8-6 in the bottom of the seventh, Olympia had runners on first and third with no outs, but could get only one run across – on a sacrifice fly to center field by Knight that drove in Gabe Padukiewicz, who drew a four-pitch walk to open the half-inning.
“If we play better baseball up front, we don’t have to be in that hole,” McDougall said.
Senior Trevor Houser got the start for Olympia for just the third time since April 18. The partial cancellation last week of the 4A Narrows League tournament because of weather meant Tuesday was Olympia’s first postseason game.
Houser pitched 3 innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits. He also struck out three and walked three in 83 pitches.
With Houser’s pitch count at 83 – including a 35-pitch first inning – and Tahoma’s lineup approaching its third-go-around facing Houser, McDougall went to his bullpen with senior Brady Batt.
Tahoma (14-6), the No. 4 team from the 4A South Puget Sound League, played a drastically different game than what coach Russ Hayden described as “the worst game we’ve played in every category of a game” during Friday’s 7-4 loss against Todd Beamer, in which the Bears gave up seven unanswered runs after leading 4-0.
Against Olympia, Tahoma’s relievers – freshman Christian Saez and sophomore Nate Brown – gave up three hits over the final four innings.
“We finally cleaned up our act a little bit today,” Hayden said. “Our kids’ goal has been to make it to state and (this win) got them to the state tournament. Our bats have carried us most of the year.”firstname.lastname@example.org 360-754-5473 www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports Twitter: @megwochnick