EAST BREMERTON — You never really know what you’re going to get when a baseball pitcher goes out to throw for the first time in over a week. He could be fresh and ready to roll. On the other hand, there is such a thing as too fresh, meaning he could take a bit to find his footing on the mound.
Luckily for Olympic, starting pitcher Keaton Dean was about as phenomenal as one could hope in a prominent playoff game against Eatonville on May 9. The senior quieted the Cruisers, allowing one run to a team that scored an average of eight per game in the regular season.
His complete-game, five-strikeout performance laid the foundation for a 3-1 Trojans victory in an all-or-nothing elimination game. It wasn’t always smooth sailing as both benches indicated they were unhappy with the home plate umpire’s strike zone throughout the contest.
“[Dean] probably had eight or nine strikes taken away from that guy,” Olympic head coach Nate Andrews said after the game. “It was unreal — awful. To battle through that is not always easy, especially with kids. He got a little grumpy there, but then we told him, ‘Hey, you can’t change that.’”
Sophomore Zach Smith was the lone thorn in the side of the Trojans. Smith grounded the ball to second base to leadoff the game. It took a weird hop to bounce over the infielder’s head and into right field for a single.
Smith again reached base via a walk in the third inning, but Dean hadn’t allowed a hit to 17 consecutive batters after that leadoff knock in the first. That was, until Smith came up with a man on in the fifth inning. He crushed an opposite field double to bring in Eatonville’s only run.
But the highlight of the inning was not the extra base hit. Instead, it was Kylen Pereria’s arm. On a pitch that bounced in the dirt, Smith took off for third base. Pereira stayed with it and fired a dart to nab Smith for the final out of the inning.
And that wasn’t even Pereira’s first throw out of the game.
He got Eatonville junior Josh Kondra out at second base by a mile after the Cruiser worked a leadoff walk in the fifth. That turned out to be a crucial out because had Pereira not gotten him, Kondra would have easily scored on Smith’s double.
“He knows what he’s doing back there,” Andrews said of his four-year varsity catcher. “He’s good at it and he wants to win; it’s his senior year. He’s a good catcher. We’re going to miss him when he’s gone and it’s going to be weird not having him around.”
Pereira did it again in the sixth inning. His throw to second base was an absolute missile. That caught Wade Wikander trying to steal and sent the game into the final offensive frame for the Trojans.
Unfortunately for Olympic, the team was unable to capitalize on a couple of two-out walks, but they didn’t need to with a 3-1 lead. Turnquist got the hitting party started after taking a pitch off his jersey to leadoff the bottom of the first.
He moved to second on a stolen base, then scored on the first pitch thrown to Dylan Heino, who laced a single to right through the infield. With one out in the third inning, Turnquist sat on a curveball and muscled a triple to the opposite field. Elijah Trottman drove him home one batter later with an opposite field double.
“[Turnquist] and Trottman — those were great at-bats,” Andrews said. “Trying to go the other way, it was an excellent adjustment.”
Dean, who came in for one more inning to close it out, threw 96 pitches in the outing and will thus not be pitching Saturday when the Trojans take on White River in game one of potentially two contests. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. May 12 at Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma.
If Olympic wins, it will stay put for a 3 p.m. game at FP to take on the winner of the Kingston-Steilacoom contest.
Olympic 3, Eatonville 1
EAT 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 — 1 4 1
OLY 1 0 1 1 0 0 x — 3 4 0
WP: Dean LP: Blake
Eatonville — Blake 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 7 K, 2 BB; Wiklund 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 K, 2 BB.
Olympic — Dean 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 K, 3 BB.
Eatonville — Smith 2-2, 2B, BB, RBI.
Olympic — Turnquist 1-1, 3B, 2 HBP, BB, RBI, 2 R; Trottman 1-4, 2B, RBI; Heino 1-2, BB, RBI.
— Jacob Moore is a reporter for Kitsap Daily News. Contact him at Jmoore@soundpublishing.com or follow him @JMooreKDN.