While disappointed his no-hitter was broken up with one out in the seventh inning of a tight ball game, Timberline High School’s Matt Mercer gave credit where it was due.
Not only did he give praise to the batter — “That was a good hit,” Mercer said of Wilson first baseman and cleanup hitter John Halseth, who hit a double to left-center field — but he also gave a tip of his cap to his outfielders Blake Nystrom and a diving Chris Roy for their efforts.
“I love that from teammates,” Mercer said, “ when they give maximum effort.”
Sure, Mercer’s near no-no was over, but he wasn’t worked up over it.
He simply continued to dominate the Rams in the seventh like he had all game, striking out Brady O’Keefe and Noah Hill swinging to end the game – a one-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory over Wilson during a 3A Narrows League showdown on Monday.
Mercer finished with a season-high 15 strikeouts, as the Blazers (13-0, 6-0 3A Narrows) remain atop the 3A Narrows League standings ahead of second-place North Thurston (6-1 3A Narrows) and third-place Wilson (4-2). Timberline plays at North Thurston next Monday for the two teams’ first meeting of the season.
Mercer, throwing 67 of his 99 pitches for strikes, struck out at least two batters in all but one inning (fourth), including striking out the side in the fifth and sixth innings.
“As I settled down after the first couple of innings, I felt I had more control of my pitches,” Mercer said. “I was getting a lot of first-pitch strikes and getting that inside corner down.”
Leading 1-0 through five innings, the Blazers got Mercer an insurance run in the bottom half of the sixth, when Tony Ortiz’s RBI single to left-center scored Andrew Blaisdell, who singled for his first hit two batters earlier.
Timberline’s two runs on five hits — all singles — was vastly different from the 8.2 runs a game the Blazers averaged through their first 12 games, but still managed to win its seventh shutout of the year.
O’Keefe, Wilson’s starting pitcher, pitched well enough to keep the Rams in it, but a high pitch count (57 pitches through two innings) led to an exit after 42/3.
Wilson coach Doug Rupe praised O’Keefe, who also earned the win on the mound in Wilson’s 4-3 win over North Thurston on April 1, noting that if his pitcher continues to throw like he did against the Blazers on Monday: “We’re going to be in almost every game,” Rupe said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of teams in our league or in the area that would put up a lot of runs against that type of performance.”
prep baseball: TIMBERLINE 2, WILSON 0Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com @megwochnick www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports