With their tuxedos in their parents’ cars at Auburn Mountainview High School, Timberline High School baseball players quickly wrestled out of their sweat-stained uniforms and into formal attire — but not before a trip to the school’s locker room to clean up — in time to experience their prom Saturday night at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Aquarium, albeit two hours late.
The players’ dates likely understood their tardiness: The Blazers won the 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict title, 3-1, against Columbia River in Auburn to earn the No. 1 seed for next weekend’s regional.
The victory means Timberline (22-2) will stay close for regionals next Saturday, too. The Blazers will play Bainbridge at 1 p.m. at Centralia’s Ed Wheeler Field. Win two next weekend, and they’re in the Final Four in Pasco.
The friendly confines of Centralia sit well with the Blazers. They would have traveled to Bellevue had they finished as the second seed.
“There’s a little comfort there,” senior catcher Benny Kaleiwahea said before rushing off to the Auburn Mountainview showers. “A lot of us have played there.”
Kaleiwahea started the title game against the Chieftains of Vancouver with a solo home run to left. He also had a monster day behind the plate. In the 3-0 semifinal victory over Bonney Lake and the title game, he threw out a combined four base runners at second — two in each game.
After Brandon Olson pitched a three-hitter in the semifinal, the Blazers had several hours to kill before their 7 p.m. title game. They went to a local movie theater to watch the baseball film “Million Dollar Arm” and got in some relaxation time.
Then, it was Zach Owens’ turn to take the mound. The junior went the distance, striking out five and giving up eight hits and one earned run. He retired six of the final eight batters he faced, including a game-ending strikeout of Taylor Easterly.
Timberline coach Matt Acker praised Owens’ maturity level and development.
“It’s amazing how far he’s come,” he said.
Three errors in the fifth by Columbia River helped the Blazers’ lead grow to 3-0 after getting singles from Taylor Adams, Chris Roy and Kaleiwahea.
“We’re getting better at the right time,” Kaleiwahea said, “and we’re ready to go win more games.”
Sumner 2, White River 1: The No. 1-ranked Spartans had all they could handle before prevailing against the SPSL-rival Hornets for the West Central District III championship at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Bremerton.
A sixth-inning error allowed Gage Whitehead to score from second, and Chandler Parson closed out the seventh inning for Sumner.
White River’s Zach Rohrbach hit a two-out RBI single to tie the game at 1 in the sixth.
“We knew we had our hands full coming in ,” Sumner coach Casey Adcox said. “Gage just hustled on that error to score from second.”email@example.com Staff writer Kevin Manning contributed to this report.