Facing the defending Class 3A state champions for the second time in seven weeks brought out a different Timberline High School baseball team.
The outcome was the same as the first — a victory, this time a 6-1 win over the Auburn Mountainview Lions in Wednesday’s West Central/Southwest bidistrict winner-to-state game at Heidelberg Park — but there were some noticeable differences, center fielder Taylor Adams noted.
“This time,” he said, “we were a lot more focused at the plate. That comes a long way with playing more games.”
The Blazers (20-2), who return to the regionals this year after missing last year, advanced to the bidistrict semifinals. They’ll face Bonney Lake at 10 a.m. Saturday at Auburn Mountainview High School. If they win, they’ll face Shelton or Columbia River for the bidistrict title at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Wednesday’s game was the
second in two days for Auburn Mountainview (15-9). The Lions won their loser-out game against Prairie, 8-4, on Tuesday. They faced a Timberline squad that won the teams’ first meeting, 4-3, in eight innings March 20 in Lacey.
While Timberline’s offense wasn’t as potent as in previous games — it had five hits — the Blazers were productive with players on base, and they earned four walks over the first three innings.
In the third, the Blazers nailed a suicide squeeze with the bases loaded. Matt Mercer’s perfectly executed bunt allowed Adams to score his second of three runs in the game for a 3-1 lead.
The Blazers swiped four bases, including three during a three-run fifth inning to take a 6-1 advantage.
“We weren’t smashing the ball, but we stayed in our approach,” said Adams, who was 1-for-2.
Mercer, the Blazers’ starting pitcher who had a pair of singles and two RBIs, struck out seven batters in five innings. Ty Gartner came on in relief from third base for 1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh. Mercer and Gartner combined to retire 12 of the final 14 Auburn Mountainview batters.
“We’ve trusted Mercer all year, doing what he does,” Gartner said. “He pounds the strike zone, and we expect that from him, and he lives up to it every time. Just being able to come in after him and help him get the win today makes everything better.”Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org