Trojans open with exciting win


Sports editor

The Olympic Trojans never said die.

Trailing by three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning in a game North Kitsap controlled most of the way, Olympic came back to score four — and score a victory — against the visiting Vikings in the 2008 season opener for both schools.

“None of us put our heads down,” sophomore Blake Johnson said. “We all put our gloves in our bags. We said, ‘We’re not going extra innings. We’re gonna win.’”

The optimistic attitude might not have been shared outside Oly’s dugout, as the Trojans committed four errors while racking up just four hits before the fateful inning. But Olympic, thanks to a pair of RBI sacrifice grounders in the fourth inning and a solo homer by Michael Ormiston in the fifth, hung around long enough to take advantage of critical NK mistakes in the seventh.

“I don’t think we have started the year many times with a win, mainly because we do schedule great teams like this,” Andrews said. “It’s a credit to them. They played a great game. We just got some breaks.”

After the Trojans reached on the Vikings’ only error and drew two walks to load the bases, Johnson hit a two-run single to close the gap to 6-5. NK closer Jamaal Smith entered the game, recording an out before walking Bryan Deszell to load the bases again. Smith then balked in the tying run before Johnson scored on a ball Ian Krein put into play.

“More to come right there,” an enthusiastic Johnson said. “That’s just the perfect way to get off to a good start. We’ve got a lot to work on defensively but it’s a good start.”

The game showcased what looks to be at the forefront for Olympic this season: youth. The Trojans have just a handful of seniors this year, including Deszell, Ormiston, Paul Varner and AJ Wilson. And with just a handful of juniors in returners Elliot Thorsen, Tyler Marshall and Cody Aerne, the Trojans will rely on sophomores and even a freshman or two to remain competitive in 2008.

“We’re young but we have talent,” Andrews said. “We’ll be competitive. It’s just learning the speed of the game. Talent-wise we’ll be able to compete.”

Friday’s win was a good introduction to that speed.

“We won today. That’s great,” Andrews said. “But the first few games are really about learning the speed of the game. Confidence is not going to be an issue with these guys.”

A lot of that confidence stems from most of that youthful team playing together this summer, Andrews said.

“This group — in the summer they proved this too — they don’t stop,” he said. “In the dugout, even though they were down three, they knew they were gonna have it. In their minds and hearts they knew.”

With the Trojans so young, the bulk of the team’s pitching duties will fall on Thorsen, who hopes to join the team soon from illness, and sophomore Riley Crow, who pitched 1-1/3 innings on a pitch count Friday.

“He’s gonna be a key guy on the mound,” Andrews said of Crow. “He’s gonna be our No. 1 or No. 2 kind of guy, him and Elliot.”

Catching will be another sophomore in Zach Bird, who displayed a solid arm on a couple NK steal attempts.

“He’s gonna be an important guy behind the plate,” Andrews said.

Ormiston should see regular time both at second base and elsewhere, as Andrews said Krein also will get some time up the middle. Ormiston finished 2-3 with two runs and his solo homer that lined out of left field, about 320 feet. Krein drove in the game-winner.

“Michael, that was a big hit for us,” Andrews said. “That gave us some momentum when we were down. Ian Krein came back in and ended up putting the ball in play. We’ll find a way to keep both in the lineup.”

With such a young team, Andrews said guys like Johnson, while young, have to take on leadership roles. Johnson finished 1-2 with two runs and two RBI Friday.

“We’re looking for guys like Blake Johnson to step up and be a leader,” he said. “He’s a great kid, a competitor. He’s got a great work ethic.”

That work ethic is something Andrews said permeates through his team, adding that for his young squad, it all starts in the classroom, where for the most part, Andrews said his students receive good grades.

“That is great,” he said. “Usually that equates into discipline on the field, responsibility on the field, work ethic.”

Chris Groat at first base and Jordan Halstead in the outfield also will play key roles, while freshman Chris Campbell also will see considerable time.

“Chris is a really lively player,” he said of Campbell. “He’s baseball-savvy. He’s young as far as his grade but he doesn’t play like it.”

And that is another trait Andrews said he sees on his team.

“This is the youngest (team I’ve coached), no question,” Andrews said. “It’ll be interesting to see how the first games go for us as far as speed. But having a full successful summer will pay dividends. So we’ll be young but they know what the expectations are.”

With only two playoff spots going to the four 3A Olympic League teams, Andrews said his team will have to battle tough with perennial Oly League contenders Port Angeles and Peninsula to make it through.

“Port Angeles, they’re senior dominated,” Andrews said. “They didn’t have a senior last year. They’re kind of the experienced team. As far as talent goes, Peninsula, they reloaded. They’ll be maybe not as talented overall as last year, but they have some good guys ready to jump in there. We’ll have to fight hard to get one of those two spots.”

With Central Kitsap freeing up enough non-league dates to reignite the rivalry between the Cougars and Trojans, Andrews said he’s excited for the April 1 contest.

“It’s a good, healthy rivalry,” Andrews said. “And they’re stacked. They’re good. They’re gonna be good for a while.”

But he knows it’s the March 17 Oly League opener with Klahowya the team must be prepared for.

“For us, it’s going to be try to get rolling early,” Andrews said. “We open with Klahowya on (March 17). We’ve got to be ready for that.”

Olympic plays host to Steilacoom at 4 p.m. today in a non-leaguer.