Trojans now prepare for toughest challenge yet. 2A/3A west Central District Baseball Tournaments

 - Wesley Remmer/staff photo
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

KENT — The Olympic Trojans took the good out of the bad Saturday.

After falling to former No. 1-ranked Auburn 13-3 in the opening round of the 3A West Central District III baseball tournament at Russell Road Park, the Trojans rebounded with a 12-4 win against Hazen, securing the No. 3 seed into the state tourney out of the district.

But the Trojans may have gotten more out of the loss than the win.

“We saw a good thrower,” Andrews said of Auburn starter Colton Brown. “He throws in the upper-80s. He was legit. That’s a good pitcher.”

Facing a pitcher that can throw more than 80 mph, Andrews said he encouraged his team to hit over the top of the ball, forcing Auburn to make plays.

“I was pretty satisfied,” Andrews said. “We struck out quite a bit, but when we put the ball in play on the ground, that’s when some things happened. We’re gonna have to do some little thing right.”

The latter statement became even truer after Oly (19-4) dominated Hazen in the third/fifth-place game. With the No. 3 seed, the Trojans will battle 20-1 Kelso, another team with an ace on the hill in Trevor May, arguably the top prep pitcher in the state.

While Hazen may have an easier opponent with the No. 5 seed in the first round, Andrews said he nor his team have been the type to back down.

“I learned a long time ago you never throw a game,” Andrews said. “You go out and compete and do everything to win. I’m not the kind of person, and the kids aren’t either, where you do that. And the kids, they want a challenge. I think they’re excited about that.”

In the opening loss to Auburn, Andrews said the team was simply overmatched by a great pitcher. As for the win against Hazen, he said that too can be compared to the Trojans of Auburn.

“I think the reason we bounced back so well was the competitive level was much lower than the first (game),” he said. “That was a much weaker team. The pitching was no where near the level of Auburn.”

But a win, especially in the playoffs, is still a win, he said.

“It’s always good to get a win,” Andrews said. “And postseason wins always feel good.”

After the Auburn game, Oly starter Riley Crow said the team got an eye-opener.

“The guys realized that they’re better teams out there,” Crow said. “You have to play great baseball.”

Pitching on three days rest, Crow led Oly to the win against Hazen, holding a no-hitter into the fifth before Hazen finally got on base and on the board.

“I knew he was gonna be (fine) on three days rest,” Andrews said, having used Crow in a similar situation earlier in the season. “People sometimes have to go out when they’re not feeling 100 percent. Even though he was a little off, he was successful. Sometimes it’s about team.”

The Trojan bats belted Hazen starter Justin Jacobs for six runs in the first inning en route to the 12-4 win.

“I always like it when we score early,” Andrews said. “When we do that, it tends to lead to good things.”

With 15 hits, Crow said he was able to relax on the mound.

“It definitely takes a lot of stress off me, knowing my team is helping me out every step of the way,” Crow said.

Ian Krein was perfect at the plate for Oly, finishing 4-for-4 with an RBI. Jordan Halstead collected three hits, including a double and an RBI. Catcher Zach Bird was 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI, nearly driving a couple more pitches deep. Tyler Marshall scored twice on two hits while Chris Campbell drove in one run with his two hits.

“They jumped on it and got hungry,” Andrews said.

But even though the Trojans wanted the win, Andrews said it was nice not to be playing in a loser-out game.

“Already having a berth was nice,” Andrews said. “It gives you that comfort zone. And we were able to see some quality pitching.”

Which will only help now as the toughest challenge approaches in Kelso.

“We’re gonna hit the cages, hit the field,” Crow said. “We’ve got to play perfect. There’s no room for error.”

The Trojans battle Kelso Saturday at 10 a.m. at Wheeler Field in Centralia. A win and the Trojans will face the winner of Auburn and Blanchet at 4 p.m. on the same field.

Regardless of the outcome, Andrews said he’s just happy the Trojans are taking the ride.

“I’m just proud of our guys for getting to that level,” he said. “It’s a true accomplishment. To do that in an environment where that’s not traditional is encouraging.”

Even touted Klahowya pitcher Rusty Devitt couldn’t keep Fife from a 7-1 win and the district crown Saturday.

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