Thanks to a strong showing in their American Legion AA Area 1 district tournament, Wilder Junior Baseball Club are off to the American Legion state tournament.
Led by strong performances from Sequim natives Michael Grubb and Silas Thomas, as well as excellent weekends from Logan Olson and Joey Hildebrandt, Wilder Junior went 3-2 on the weekend and earned the number three seed in the state tournament, which begins Saturday, July 27.
Grubb was pounding the ball during the tournament according to Wilder Junior coach Zac Moore, with nine hits in 15 at bats, including two doubles and three runs batted in.
“He really tore it up all weekend long,” said Moore, who added that Grubb also made a top-shelf defensive play in the tournament semi-final game against Burlington. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Wilder Junior were trying to hold onto a 4-4 tie to force extra innings, but thanks to a triple and an intentional walk, Burlington had runners on first and third with one out. Grubb caught what Moore called a “ripping line drive,” then quickly threw back to third base to get the double play and get Wilder Junior out of the inning.
Unfortunately, Wilder would ultimately lose that game 5-4 in eight innings.
Wilder Junior had beaten Burlington earlier in the tournament, though, exploding for seven runs in the first inning en route to a 15-5 win on Friday night. Moore called that game “one of the best we played all season,” and praised his team for stepping up against one of the best team in their district.
Silas Thomas started that game and went 4 2/3 innings with three strikeouts against Burlington, who have what Moore referred to as a “tough-hitting lineup.” He also wasn’t helped by the umpire, with Moore noting that “the strike zone was really tight that game. The umpire gave us the outside corner, but wasn’t giving Silas anything inside.”
Despite that, Thomas kept pounding away at the strike zone, getting 11 first-pitch strikes and inducing a lot of weaker contact. “Our defense really stepped up for him that night,” said Moore, who has previously lamented how Wilder’s defense has let Thomas down at times this season despite him consistently pitching well.
Grubb went 4-4 in that game with a double and two RBI.
Moore also called out leadoff hitter Logan Olson as a top performer on the weekend. The Forks native had nine hits in 18 at bats on the weekend with 6 RBI, including a triple that scored two runs in the semi-final game against Burlington to tie the game in the sixth inning and ultimately send it to extra innings.
Joey Hildebrandt went 6 1/3 innings in their tournament opener against Blaine with 11 strikeouts. “Hildebrandt just pounded the zone, and his offspeed pitch had them swinging all game,” Moore said.
Thanks to their number three seed in the state tournament, Wilder Junior will be in the opening game of the American Legion AA state tournament against the number two seed of Area 3 at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 27 in Yakima. Their opponents had not been determined yet at press time.