BELLEVUE — If a high-school team can be fairly described as a “veteran” team, O’Dea qualifies, and it showed Saturday.
Pierre LeDorze, with eight strikeouts, a double and two runs scored, and Whit Gilligan, who hit 3 for 3 with five runs batted in, are two of 15 seniors on an O’Dea roster that roared past Columbia River 9-4 at Bannerwood Park and earned a trip to the state 3A final four for the first time since the school won state in 2010.
“We’re an old team,” coach Mike Doyle said. “A lot of these guys were on varsity as freshmen and have a lot of varsity at-bats. Senior leadership is key for us.”
Gilligan, O’Dea’s No. 9 hitter, drove in runs in all three of his at-bats. “I got pitches to hit all day,” he said. “I was glad to come through for the team.”
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Experience, Gilligan believes, will benefit the Irish in Pasco next weekend. “We’ve been playing together for four years,” he said. “We have a lot of chemistry, and we trust each other.
“We knew we had a chance at a state championship coming in as freshmen. We knew we had a bunch of talent. We came close last year (losing to Decatur in the first round), but this is the big year.”
The Irish led 2-0 after two innings, scoring on RBI singles in the first by LeDorze and in the second by Gilligan.
They added three in the third when Scottie Graham singled in LeDorze, who had doubled, and a two-run triple to right by Gilligan, putting O’Dea ahead 5-1.
The Irish scored four in the fourth with two out. Rex Stephan doubled and scored on a single by Graham. Ryland Kerr drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run, and Gilligan followed with a two-run single for his third hit in three innings, giving O’Dea a 9-1 lead.
Earlier, senior Ethan Clements struck out seven and walked two to run his record to 8-0 in O’Dea’s 7-1 first-round win over North Thurston (18-7).
The Irish scored on an error in the first and added three runs in both the third and fifth innings. LeDorze tripled and scored in the third. Stephan and Kerr each had two hits. Clements drove in a pair of runs.
In a first-round morning game, the Chieftains (20-4) won 3-0 over Mountlake Terrace (13-11). An RBI single by Jace McKinney and a two-run single by Andrew Haley in the third was all Columbia River ace Seth Rayburn needed to support his three-hit shutout.