Trojans punch tickets to state

KENT — This was the win Olympic had been waiting for.

KENT — This was the win Olympic had been waiting for.

The Trojans, which last won a district playoff game in any boys team sport in 2004 when the baseball team advanced within a game of state, have exercised those proverbial demons.

With a 5-1 win Tuesday against Mount Rainier, the Trojan baseballers got a big playoff win, a little respect and a serving of revenge, while all the while punching their tickets to the regional round of this year’s state tournament.

“The win to me was a win for our school, a win for our community, a win for our alumni and the program,” Andrews said.

Last year, Mt. Rainier handed them a district-opening loss before the Trojans exited. So for the Trojans (19-3), the win was nice on many levels.

“I definitely know they were happy to get revenge,” Andrews said. “But I don’t think they cared who it was. They were just happy to get a win.”

Since narrowly beating Bremerton 5-4 on May 1, Andrews said his team hasn’t been complacent, a problem that allowed the Knights to battle back from a 5-0 deficit.

“I just think sometimes you get complacent,” he said of the win against Bremerton. “They just assumed it would be OK. Part of it is they’re confident. You have to be careful when you’re confident.”

But since that game, Oly has toppled two ranked opponents, beating the then-No. 2 2A team River Ridge before knocking off Mt. Rainier, ranked fourth at the time in 3A.

“We dominated the game really,” he said. “We probably should have had two more runs.”

The game was close early, as Olympic went up 1-0 after three innings and 3-0 through six, a Jordan Halstead two-run homer. After Oly added two more in the seventh, Mt. Rainier finally got one back, ending starter Riley Crow’s shutout bid. Crow still finished with a complete game, however, remaining undefeated this season.

“He’s 8-0,” Andrews said. “That’s a good year no matter what.”

Offensively, Chris Campbell finished 2-for-4 for Oly, while catcher Zach Bird was 1-for-3 with two RBI. Crow helped his own cause by belting a double and Tyler Marshall went 1-for-4 with an RBI.

“But (Tuesday) the kids focused,” Andrews said. “They knew what the job was. We had a plan.”

And while the win was nice, it also was expected, as Andrews said the school’s success in recent years has raised the team’s own expectations.

“Getting to the playoffs (anymore),” Andrews said. “It’s taking it to the next level.”

With the Olympic League teams often getting the short end of the state’s respect stick, Andrews said the recent wins should help the Trojans, and league, get more recognition.

“Our league is kind of out here,” he said. “We don’t get a lot of attention just being where we’re at. To get exposure or to get respect, you have to earn it.”

As far as confidence, Andrews said the team was able to develop its winning attitude largely as the result of its summer program, which advanced to the final four of its state playoffs.

“We were in some big games and came up big,” Andrews said of the summer team.

That’s allowed a young team with little high school experience to come in with a competitive attitude. As Andrews said, it also proved that players need not overspend for select teams when competitive summer ball is offered through the high schools.

With the win already locking up a regional berth, Andrews said he’s looking forward to getting two more games in against quality opponents. The Trojans play Auburn (14-5), a team ranked No. 1 earlier this season, at 10 a.m. at Russell Road Park in Kent today. If the Trojans win that game, they’ll play the Capital-Hazen winner in the district title game at 7 p.m. If the Trojans lose, they’ll play the loser of that game at 4 p.m. in the third/fifth-place seeding game.

“It’s quite a nice deal,” Andrews said. “We get to use the two games to get ourselves set up where we want to be. We’ll get a couple more guys on the hill and it allows our hitters to see more good pitching.”

The team will continue to focus on what’s worked, Andrews said.

“They understand,” Andrews said when asked about the early complacency issues. “I communicated very clearly with them on that. I’m sure they don’t want to hear it anymore.”

Now the Trojans will focus on making this ride last as long as possible.

“That’s an accomplishment,” Andrews said of the berth. “It’s something we were really hoping to get done this year. Now we’ll see if we can keep it going.”