CHEHALIS — Tim DeWulf struck out 10 batters in five and two-thirds innings and had two hits in Odessa’s 11-2 victory over Naselle in state quarterfinals Saturday, May 18.
The Tigers turned back Comet rallies in the fifth and sixth innings, then pulled away with three runs in the sixth and four in the seventh to break open a 4-2 game. The loss ended Naselle’s season, while the Tigers advanced to state finals with a 12-2 victory over Colton later in the day.
DeWulf came out of the gate getting ahead in counts and using a devastating, late-breaking curve to control Comet bats in the early going. With one out in the second, Kolton Lindstrom went down and ripped a first-pitch curve to right-center field. But, perhaps sensing that the Comets were beginning to sit on his curveball, DeWulf pumped three high fastballs by Clay Bergeson and did not allow another hit until there were two outs in the fifth.
“He had a 12-to-6 curveball, and coming from a lefty it breaks in (to right-handers), so that’s a different look,” Lindstrom said. “And he threw hard.”
The Tigers led 3-0 before they recorded their first hit. Comet starter Cole Dorman walked the game’s first four batters, leading to a two-run Odessa first inning, but picked off Theron Schlomer at second and retired six of the next seven batters. Then, in the third, Marcus King walked, advanced on an error and passed ball, and scored on a sacrifice. Finally, with two outs in the inning, DeWulf came up with the first Odessa hit, ripping Dorman’s curveball to deep left for a double that scored Eric Johnston, who had been hit by a pitch.
After DeWulf’s hit, Ethan Lindstrom moved from shortstop to the mound in relief. While the Comets undoubtedly wanted Lindstrom available to start if they advanced to that evening’s semifinals, coach Randy Lindstrom had no choice but to go all-in on the quarterfinal game.
“Game two doesn’t even exist,” coach Lindstrom said. “It’s all hands on deck. If we don’t win game one, there’s no game two.”
In the fifth, DeWulf showed his first signs of vulnerability, walking two batters. Then, with two outs, Joe Strange sliced a low 1-0 pitch for an RBI single. After Lindstrom reached on an error to load the bases, DeWulf walked Dorman to force in a run and make it 4-2. DeWulf fell behind 3-1 on Jimmy Strange. Strange fouled a pitch down the first base line, then took a close pitch on the inside corner for a called strike to end the threat.
Meanwhile, Lindstrom got through his first time through the Ocosta lineup without allowing a hit with the help of a diving catch by Jimmy Strange in shallow center. But he had two walks and a hit batter in that stretch. Working carefully through their lineup seemed to take a toll on him, and in the sixth, Brady Singer and Camden Weber hit back-to-back doubles, leading to a three-run inning that made it 7-2. Lindstrom spent more energy fighting to keep the score where it was, walking two batters before fanning Johnston.
DeWulf appeared similarly taxed after several times through the dangerous Naselle lineup, but the Tigers rode him as far as they could. With two out and one on in the bottom of the sixth, DeWulf walked Josh Townsen. A stalemated, 11-pitch at bat against Warren Wirkkala finally ended in another walk, and pushed DeWulf past the 105-pitch limit, forcing the Tigers to go to the bullpen with the bases loaded. Jett Nelson came on and struck out Joe Strange, getting him to chase on 1-1 and getting a call on the outside corner on 1-2 to end the Comet threat.
When the Cats loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh, the Comets brought on senior Josh Townsen to relieve Lindstrom. He came back from a 2-0 count to strike out his first batter, but with two outs, Nelson singled in two, and King tripled in two more, capping the scoring at 11-2.