TACOMA — It took a couple of extra innings, but in the end, the Port Angeles baseball team qualified for the state 2A tournament with a dramatic walk-off victory over Olympic in the ninth inning Saturday night.
Josiah Gooding hit a clutch one-out single in the bottom of the ninth to end the district playoff marathon, bringing Kole Acker home from second base. Acker sped around third and just got past the Olympic catcher before the ball came in from the outfield, setting off a wild Roughriders celebration at the Foss High School ballfield.
This was after Port Angeles nearly won the game in the bottom of the eighth on a clutch two-out single by Elijah Flodstrom. With the Riders down 4-3 and one out away from losing, Tanner Jacobsen, who was at third base, was able to come home easily on Flodstrom’s hit. Colton Romero, who was at second base, tried to come in to score, but was thrown out at the plate on a close play.
“I have a few more gray hairs after that one,” said coach Zac Moore. “It was a great game by two great teams.”
Moore said the Roughriders players have come together as a group and he credited this for the team’s clutch play.
“Our kids are committed to each other. They really are playing for each other,” he said.
With the victory, the Riders finished fifth in the Bi-district tournament while Olympic goes home. Port Angeles (16-5-1) was seeded No. 14 in the state tournament and moves on to play No. 3 seed WF West in the opening round at 1 p.m. Saturday. Moore does not know yet where that game will be played.
Olympic and Port Angeles showed they are about as evenly matched as two teams can be as the Trojans beat the Riders 6-5 earlier this year, with the Riders coming back to shut out Olympic 3-0 later in the year.
The Riders trio of Kole Acker, Romero and Blake Sohlberg combined to strike out 15 Trojans while allowing just seven hits.
Acker started, going three innings, allowing two hits and an earned run while striking out five. Sohlberg pitched three innings, allowing two hits, an earned run and striking out six. Romero went three innings, allowing three hits, an earned run and striking out four to earn the victory.
There was plenty of drama by both teams in the extra innings.
After a leadoff double by David Matthews to open the eighth inning, Olympic threatened to erupt for a big inning as the Trojans went on to load the bases on Romero with no outs and the score tied 3-3. Shortstop Alex Angevine was able to throw out a runner at home trying to score on a ground ball, but then the Trojans were able to pick up the go-ahead run on another grounder. Romero got the final out of the inning on a popup to keep the damage to a minimum.
In the bottom of the eighth, Jacobsen started a rally after getting hit by a pitch. He was able to move to second on a grounder and then Romero hit a single, moving Jacobsen to third. Romero stole second to get into scoring position.
Flodstrom then came up with his big hit. Jacobsen was able to scamper home easily for the tying run, but Romero was out by inches and the game moved on to the ninth inning with the score 4-4.
In the top of the ninth, Olympic was able to get two runners on with two outs, but Romero got the final out on a clutch strikeout.
The winning rally in the bottom of the ninth began with an Acker single. Kaleb Mullen walked to move Acker into scoring position at second base. After an Ezra Townsend popup, Gooding hit a sharp single through the infield. Acker sped around third with Moore waving him home. The second time around, the Riders’ baserunner got past Olympic’s catcher to win the game.
Moore said Gooding is just a sophomore.
“That was special [for Gooding],” Moore said. “That’s something he’ll never forget.”
Angevine finished the game 2-for-4 with a run scored, an RBI and a walk. Romero was 2-for-5 with a stolen base and Flodstrom was 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored and two walks. Gooding was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.
Moore also said Nate Basden played a great game at catcher handling three different pitchers with different styles and off-speed pitches.
WF West (17-4) finished second in the Evergreen 2A League and won the District 4 2A tournament, beating top seed Tumwater.
North Kitsap, which finished fourth at the Bi-district tournament, is the only other Olympic League school that made the state tournament.
Port Angeles 5, Olympic 4
Oly. 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 — 4 7 2
PA 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 — 5 10 1
Port Angeles — Acker 3 IP, 2 H, ER, 5 K; Sohlberg 3 IP, 2 H, ER, 6 K; Romero 3 IP, 3 H, ER, 4 K.
Port Angeles — Angevine 2-4, R, RBI, BB; Flodstrom 2-3, RBI, R, 2 BB; Gooding 2-4, R, RBI; Romero 2-5, SB; Acker 1-4, R; Jacobsen 1-3, R; Sohlberg, SF, RBI; Shumway RBI.