3A Narrows pitching duel turns game into 12-inning marathon

mwochnick@theolympian.comApril 22, 2014 

North Thurston baseball players celebrate in the outfield after the Rams defeated the visiting Timberline Blazers 2-1 in 12 innings on Monday.

PHOTOS BY STEVE BLOOM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

After a 12-inning 3A Narrows League baseball marathon that took 3 hours, 10 minutes, North Thurston senior ace Ryan Mets admitted his jaw was in more discomfort than his left arm.

His arm was in good shape after throwing 127 pitches over 10 innings, but his jaw was a different story — and it had nothing to do with nearly matching his career high for strikeouts in a game.

That’s because he caught a teammate’s shoulder when the Rams dog-piled their senior ace and Oregon State signee after he rounded first base with the game-winning RBI.

“That hurt,” Mets said, “but it was totally worth it.”

Mets’ sharply hit walk-off RBI single to left-center in the bottom of the 12th scored Ethan Connelly from third, giving the Rams a 2-1 win over previously undefeated Timberline on Monday.

In the 12th, tied at 1 since the bottom of the seventh, singles by Emilio Romero and Josh Congdon off Blazers reliever Zack Owens, followed by an intentional walk to Hayden Maliska, loaded the bases for Mets, who got his third hit of the day and sealed North Thurston’s rally.

The teams face off again Wednesday at Timberline.

In a highly advertised pitchers’ duel — Mets versus Timberline’s Matt Mercer — the duo didn’t disappoint. With several college and pro scouts in attendance, both aces combined for 26 strikeouts and allowed six hits.

After six shutout innings, North Thurston and Timberline each scored in the seventh.

Timberline took a 1-0 lead in its half when a passed ball scored Ryan Connor from third base after Connor reached on an infield error with one out.

But in the bottom half of the seventh, the Rams (9-4, 8-1 3A Narrows) tied it up when Maliska drew a bases-loaded walk. There was a chance for more scoring, but Ben Rood was caught stealing at home, sending the game into extra innings.

Blazers coach Matt Acker pulled Mercer after 62/3 innings and 112 pitches with nine strikeouts, but Mets said his “excitement and adrenaline” kept him going into the 10th inning, in spite of his pitch count rising past 100 in the eighth.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to do it any other way,” said Mets, who finished with 17 strikeouts, one off his career high of 18 set earlier this year.

Acker pointed to baserunning miscues that hurt the Blazers (14-1, 6-1).

“We made mistakes we haven’t made in two years,” Acker said. “Signs that we missed, and that’s a sign of adrenaline, and we had a great talk about that.”

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 mwochnick@theolympian.com @megwochnick www.theolympian.com/

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