Olympia was on life-support in a loser-out game against University Place’s Curtis High School. Capital had to win a play-in contest just to reach the district tournament. Rainier was matched up against a team they were 0-7 against over the last three years.
Another is the fact that all three are heading to the state semifinals.
The Bears and Cougars will head to Gesa Stadium in Pasco to compete in the 4A and 3A semifinals, respectively, while the Mountaineers will stay closer to home and head to Wheeler Field in Centralia for the 2B semifinals.
“It’s funny, I’ve had so many calls and texts over the last day saying things like, ‘I can’t believe what you guys did’ and ‘What a fairytale story,’” Olympia coach Derek Weldon said. “Those thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth for the players within our program. We work exceptionally hard and have high expectations in our program. This has been our plan all along.”
Olympia, advancing to its second semifinals in school history and first in 10 years, will play Issaquah (18-9) on Friday, May 24, at 4:00 p.m. with the winner facing Skyview (21-5) or Moses Lake (21-3) in the state championship game on May 25.
The Bears (17-9) erased their decade-long state semifinal drought after shutting out 4A North Puget Sound League champion Federal Way, 8-0, in the quarterfinals on May 18. That victory came on the heels of Olympia’s 8-6 win over 4A King County champion Skyline in the first round.
“We have played fearless and selfless baseball,” said Weldon, whose squad overcame a late four-run deficit in a district game to defeat Curtis, 7-6. “This is the most unselfish and unified team I’ve ever coached. We have tremendous internal leadership and a bunch of guys that believe in one another and believe in what we are doing at Olympia.”
Against Skyline, which entered the first-round matchup on an 18-game winning streak, the Bears raced out to an 8-2 sixth inning lead, highlighted by a two-run single from Aiden Herrick. Weldon then handed the ball over the Herrick in the quarterfinals and the sophomore delivered, shutting out the Eagles’ high-powered offense in the 8-0 victory. Junior Reagan Matson put the finishing touches on the Bears’ offensive onslaught with a three-run triple in the top of the seventh.
The Bears are led by junior Michael Came, the 4A SPSL Pitcher of the Year; Herrick, who was first-team all-league as a utility player; and second-team all-league selections in Matson, Brandon Veley, Nathan Hermann, Clyde Twitty, and Jake Doughty.
Not to be outdone by their cross-town rivals, Capital advanced to the state semifinals for a ninth time in program history after besting Mercer Island, 7-1, in the first round and 3A Greater Saint Helens League champion Mountain View, 6-2, in the quarterfinals.
The Cougars (14-13) will face O’Dea (23-2) in the semifinals at 10:00 a.m. Gig Harbor (19-6) and Lake Washington (24-2) meet in the other 3A semifinal.
Capital last made baseball’s final four in 1998. That team went on to defeat Kennedy, 14-3, to claim the program’s second state title.
This marks the first time ever that both Olympia and Capital have advanced to the state semifinals in the same season.
After its spectacular run through the 3A West Central District, Timberline, which was led this season by first-team all-league players Colton Steepy and Daniel Furman, lost to Mount Spokane, 2-1, in the opening round at Yakima County Stadium. The Blazers finished the year 13-12.
River Ridge (19-7) saw its season come to an end in the first round of the 2A state tournament, losing 7-3 to Ellensburg, the two-time defending state champions.
Regardless of how they do in the 2B semifinals, the Mountaineers have already made history, becoming the first team in school history to win two state playoff games in the same season. Rainier entered this year’s postseason with just one all-time state playoff victory, which came during last year’s 11-1 triumph over Orcas Island in the opening round.
They proceeded to double that win total on May 18, defeating Adna, 8-7, in the first round before hammering 1B/2B Northwest League champion Friday Harbor, 10-0, in the quarterfinals.
The Mountaineers (19-7) play 2B Central League rival Kalama (23-2) at 4:00 p.m. with
Brewster (22-2) and Asotin (19-5) meeting in the second semifinal at 7:00 p.m. Rainier is 0-2 this season against Kalama, losing 9-7 during a regular season game and 6-1 in district tournament play.
Tumwater, Yelm Advance to the State Fastpitch Tournament
The Tornados (18-5) earned the No. 4 seed out of the 3A West Central District and will face Southridge (15-8) in the opening round of the 3A state tournament on Friday, May 17, at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.
The Thunderbirds (18-5) wrapped up the fourth and final seed out of the Southwest District 4 tournament with a 5-4 victory over R.A. Long. Tumwater will head to Carlon Park in Selah for the 2A state tournament where they will play Sehome (16-4) in the first round.