Unlikely duo paves the path as Auburn edges Timberline for fifth straight trip to the final 16
One has long been a key cog in Auburn High’s powerhouse baseball program.
The other spent all of last season on the junior varsity and wasn’t even sure he was going to turn out this spring.
Together, however, Auburn right-hander David Olson and outfielder Garrett Rutledge made all the difference in the world on Tuesday night against Timberline in a West Central 3/Southwest 4 bi-district playoff baseball game at Kent’s Russell Road Park.
Olson delivered six strong innings on the mound and belted a long, two-run homer in the fourth inning. Rutledge added a long ball of his own and gunned out a runner at the plate, as the Trojans got past the Blazers, 4-3, and clinched their fifth straight state berth.
Auburn right-hander Kevin Cleary worked a perfect seventh inning to pick up the save.
“That was big, a winner-to-state game,” said Olson, who allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out eight. “We were looking to win this one so we could get to that next step.”
With the win, the Trojans (14-5) advance to play Olympia at Russell Road today at 10 a.m. Olympia knocked off Mount Rainier on Tuesday, 5-1.
Olson was aided by plenty of help from his supporting cast to help the Trojans advance to the next step.
Timberline took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning on a strange sacrifice fly to center field. Auburn center fielder Clayton Brown made a spectacular over-the-shoulder diving grab on a long fly ball from Timberline’s Scott Gagnon, allowing the Blazers’ Conner Adams to score all the way from second base.
Olson then went into lockdown, retiring seven straight Timberline batters, five of them by strikeout.
“I was just staying down in the zone, ahead in the count, and I was able to put them away,” Olson said.
In command on the mound, Olson then went to work with his bat in the top of the fourth, launching a hanging breaking ball from Timberline left-hander Alex Bodenhamer over the center field fence, scoring Ryne Briley and giving the Trojans a 2-1 lead.
Two batters later, Bodenhamer hung another one, this time to Rutledge, who made the lefty pay with a shot over the right-center fence, giving the Trojans a 3-1 advantage.
It was Rutledge’s second homer in as many games and gives him six for the season.
Not bad for a kid who was undecided on whether or not to play when the spring season rolled around.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Rutledge said of his power binge. “When it came off the bat, I thought it was just a pop-up. Then, once I saw it, I was like, ‘There’s another one, I guess.’”
As good as Rutledge has been at the plate, he delivered just as solid of a performance from left field in the bottom half of the fourth. With runners on first and second, Timberline’s Carl Ingram squirted a single through the left side. Rutledge came up gunning, throwing out Timberline’s Matt Hubbard at the plate by a step.
“That was huge, a big momentum swing for us,” Olson said.
Rutledge couldn’t help but laugh about the play after the game.
“In pre-game, I was throwing them right in the dirt,” he said. “But the adrenaline was flowing and it worked out pretty nicely.”
Bonney Lk. 5, Aub. Riverside 2: A day after Kyle Holtman’s 3-for-4, two-RBI performance helped the Ravens upend Port Angeles, 6-4, their state playoff hopes were dashed by the Panthers in a loser-out game.
Auburn Riverside (17-8) entered the game with a pair of regular-season wins against Bonney Lake. The Panthers (16-6) tied for first place with Auburn.
The Ravens took a 2-1 lead into the top of the fourth inning before Bonney Lake managed four unanswered runs, scoring in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings.
Auburn Riverside managed just seven hits in the game, two by Sean Rehon. Senior Josh Hudson drove home both of the Ravens’ runs with a third-inning single.