Olympia baseball wasn’t just losing to Issaquah on Friday night in the Class 4A state semifinal matchup in Pasco on Friday night at GESA Stadium, the Bears were getting no-hit through 6 1/3 innings, trailing 2-0 in the final inning of the game.
But credit this Bears squad: They don’t go down without a fight.
Olympia managed to get Issaquah starting pitcher Brady Liddle’s pitch count up in the seventh inning and force a pitching change. And then the Bears pounced on reliever Joseph Warner, with Michael Came getting Olympia’s first hit of the game to load the bases for left fielder Mason Meconi.
Then, on the first pitch of his at-bat, Meconi smacked a bases-clearing, walkoff double to seal the 3-2 win for Olympia and send the Bears to the Class 4A state championship game tomorrow.
“Our guys have shown it all year, they have tremendous fight, they believe in each other and believe in our program,” said Olympia coach Derek Weldon. “They all believe we have a shot until we don’t.”
It was a bit of dejavu for Meconi, who had a bases-clearing double last weekend against Federal Way in the quarterfinals.
“I looked at him and said, ‘This is familiar, right?’” Weldon said.
A smile stretched across Meconi’s face. And then he delivered.
“He’s just a competitor,” Weldon said. “We do a lot of competition based things in our program. We want to have a competitive mindset, not a mechanical mindset. Mason is one of our best competitors.”
Even facing elimination and being no-hit into the seventh inning, Olympia’s players still believed they would ultimately prevail, even when the odds were stacked against them.
“In those moments, our guys know how to really focus and really dig in and compete at a higher level when they have to,” Weldon said.
Olympia’s strength has come from its entire team this season, with contributions from all over the field, rather than relying on a couple star players.
“It seems like it’s always a different guy,” Weldon said. “Each guy has been big time for us in various moments in the year. It’s not just one guy, it’s a team. A bunch of guys working together.”
Olympia will face the winner of Skyview and Moses Lake, tomorrow (May 25) at 7 p.m. at GESA Stadium in Pasco in the 4A state championship game.
GRAHAM’S NO-HITTER LIFTS FIFE
Fife pitcher Judah Graham doesn’t love to talk about how he’s feeling before a big game. So when teammates and coaches came to him to ask him how he was feeling before Fife’s Class 2A state semifinal game against Sehome on Friday night at County Stadium in Yakima, Graham kept it brief.
“Eh,” he replied. “We’ll see.”
Fife coach Shane Nixon thought that was a little strange, but he decided to let things play out.
Turns out, Nixon didn’t have anything to worry about. Graham might have been uncharastically coy, but he was feeling just fine, as he proceeded to toss a no-hitter against Sehome to deliver a 2-0 win for the Trojans, who now advance to Saturday’s 2A state championship game against Selah.
“For me, as a head coach, it was the best pitching performance I’ve ever seen in a Fife uniform, just because of the magnitude of the game,” Nixon said.
Graham said he didn’t try to do too much, opting to trust his defense behind him.
“I was just hitting spots and I was letting my teammates work for me, letting my defense work,” he said. “We ended up pulling out the win.”
Fife’s Brian Ours hit an RBI single to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, and another Ours RBI single in the sixth gave Fife the 2-0 lead against Sehome starting pitcher Jacob Kaepernick.
“To give credit where it’s due, Sehome’s pitcher is a good pitcher,” Nixon said. “He’s not overpowering, doesn’t throw 85 mph fastball, but he locates, keeps it mixed up. We were just kind of off balance.”
Fife has never won a state title. The program’s best finish came in 2016, when the Trojans took fourth.
“We have to play mistake free,” Nixon said. “We have to score more runs than two. Selah is a good baseball team. It’ll take us doing our job, not worrying about other things we can’t control.”