Four Thurston County high schools – Black Hills, Capital, Timberline and Tumwater – have punched their tickets to the state baseball tournament. The Cougars and Blazers advanced to the first round of 16 in the Class 3A ranks, while the cross-town rival Wolves and Thunderbirds are headed to the 2A tourney. The first round for both classifications take place on May 20.
Timberline and Tumwater enter the field after runner-up performances in their respective district tournaments. Capital and Black Hills both took alternate routes to continue their seasons, each surviving multiple loser-out contests.
The Blazers (18-6) wrapped up the program’s fourth consecutive state tournament appearance and 12th all-time following a strong run through the 3A West Central 3/Southwest District 4 tournament where they lost in the finals to 3A South Sound Conference league foe Gig Harbor, 1-0.
Prior to the championship round loss, however, Timberline, spearheaded by an experienced senior class led by Caleb Beard and Tucker Stroup, won three district games, including victories over a pair of league champions in Evergreen (2-0) and Bonney Lake (10-7).
The Mark Rubadue-coached Blazers will travel the furthest of the four remaining local teams as they open single-elimination state play against O’Dea (15-6) of the Metro League at Pasco High School. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
The winner will face the winner of Southridge and Kamiakin in the quarterfinals.
The Blazers bowed out in the first round of the 4A tournament last year, losing 4-3 to eventual state champion Skyline
While Timberline was guaranteed a state playoff trip regardless of the outcome of its final district game, Capital (15-10) needed to win three straight loser-out games to secure its first state appearance since 2010.
After being edged by Mountain View (7-6) in the district quarterfinals, the Cougars defeated Peninsula (10-0), Prairie (8-4) and Central Kitsap (4-0) to claim the No. 5 seed out of the district.
Senior Travis Tallman was exceptional on the mound in Capital’s triumph over Central Kitsap, giving up just three hits over seven innings with five strikeouts. Offensively, the Cougars pushed three runs across home plate in the first inning as Tanner Johnson and Sam Condon both drove in a run.
The Cougars play KingCo runner-up Mercer Island (16-2) in the first round at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue. The game is slated for 1:00 p.m. start with the winner meeting Bonney Lake or Snohomish in the second round later that day.
Capital and the Islanders actually have a little history together as the Cougars knocked off Mercer Island, 7-3, in the first round of the 1998 state tournament before going on to win the title with a 14-3 win over Kennedy.
Should both Timberline and Capital advance they would meet in the state semifinals on May 26 at Safeco Field in Seattle.
Over on the 2A side, Tumwater and Black Hills have been placed in the same quarter bracket at Auburn High School with the T-Birds playing Lynden (19-3) and the Wolves meeting North Kitsap (18-2) in the first round.
Tumwater plays at 10:00 a.m. and Black Hills following at 1:00 p.m.
Victories by both Tumwater schools would set up a quarterfinal showdown later that day in Auburn with the winner advancing to the semifinals at the Yakima County Stadium on May 26.
Tumwater (15-5) notched its fifth straight state berth after finishing second in the 2A Southwest District 4 tournament. The T-Birds fell in the title game, 6-4, to W.F. West. Noah Andrews and Noah Sirkel each had two hits in the loss to the Bearcats, while teammate Jackson Davis drove in three runs.
The defeat came after wins over Rochester (6-0) and Hockinson (11-5).
The T-Birds have lost their last two first round match-ups, including a 6-1 defeat to Cedarcrest last season. The back-to-back early exits came after Tumwater finished third in 2014 and second in 2013.
After losing, 12-4, in the district quarterfinals to W.F. West, Black Hills (13-7) rebounded by besting Centralia, 11-7, in a loser-out game. The Wolves raced out to a quick 4-0 first inning lead over the Tigers and held a 5-2 advantage midway through the second before their game on May 13 in Centralia was postponed due to heavy rain.
The game resumed on May 15 and Black Hills picked up right where they left off, building their cushion to 9-2 before holding off a late Centralia rally.
With the state playoffs already secured, the Wolves fell to Columbia River, 14-8, in the following game to earn the district’s fourth and final seed.
Head coach Todd Venable has the Wolves into the state playoffs for the just the second time in school history. The berth comes two years after he led Black Hills to its inaugural state appearance in 2015. That trip ended in the first round following a 7-4 defeat to Anacortes.