Be it at the plate in a clutch situation or on the mound facing one of the league's best lineup in Westview, Beaverton junior John Oleson was in an otherworldly zone.
When his team needed a huge two-out hit, Oleson answered the call to arms not once but twice. When the Beavers handed the right-hander the baseball and asked him to not only navigate them through choppy waters in the top of the fourth, but steer the ship the rest of the way, Oleson was up for the challenge and then some.
In the second game of a big Westview-Beaverton series, Oleson was simply outstanding, driving in five runs — four of which came with two outs — and threw three and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief to help guide the Beavers to a 7-3 win at Beaverton High School on May 7. It was a two-way outing few players in the Metro League have the talent or the mental fortitude to bear, but Oleson accomplished the rarefied feat, proving he can be one of the best all-around players in the conference.
"That's every kid's dream really," Oleson said with a smile. "That felt really good. The atmosphere, who we were playing, I just felt like my focus was at another level this game. All of my pitches were feeling good, I was just trying to shut them down."
Since dropping two of three games to Southridge, Beaverton (16-5 overall, 9-5 in Metro) has reeled off five straight victories and moved to eighth in the Class 6A power rankings. Oleson said a couple of important practice sessions helped the Beavers recenter at the plate for the second half of league play and unlock some of that untapped hitting potential at the dish.
"Honestly it's just our confidence," Oleson said. "All the guys are really energetic in the dugout right now. We like where we're at. We like where we're going. We all know this team has some of the best players in this league. Just seeing it all come together and get a couple of big wins out of it is really good. We're just trying to keep it going."
Beaverton is just a half game back of Westview (18-5 overall, 10-4 in Metro) and Southridge (15-7, 10-4) for second place in the Metro standings. The final game of the Beaver-Wildcat series is set for Thursday at Westview High with the first pitch at 5 p.m. By beating Westview, Beaverton clinched its first series win over the Metro kings for the first time since 2015.
"That's big-time," Oleson said. "We take that very seriously and we're trying to get that sweep on Thursday. We're getting hot at the right time, at the end of the season. If we keep playing like we are right now I think we can make a very good playoff run. There's a lot of confidence on this team in that."
In the top of the third with runners on first and second and two outs, Oleson smoked a two-run double to the left-center gap off Westview lefty starter Braeden Munger that scored both Matt Gibbs and Kellen O'Connor to give Beaverton a 2-0 lead. Then Beaverton sophomore shortstop Trent Walker followed with a single back up the middle that scored a hustling Oleson to make it 3-0.
Westview responded promptly and relentlessly in the fourth as Dominic Barela blasted a solo homer to shave Beaverton's lead to 3-1. Then Carson Carraher doubled, Munger singled and Ben Poole evened the game with a two-run, one-out double that chased Beaver sophomore starter Brady Baltus from the game and brought in Oleson to pitch. Westview sophomore Caden Rickman walked and stole second with one out, setting up runners in scoring position with just one out against Oleson. Yet, an inning that could've easily tailspun into disaster was evaded by Oleson who got Evan Williamson and Mason Guerra, the only two starters back off Westview's state title team, each to fly out to get out of the stanza intact.
Beaverton senior Sam Wagner Forster reclaimed a 4-3 lead with an RBI double that scored Gibbs who pinch ran, moved to second on a wild pitch and later stole third. Subsequently, again with two outs, and runners in scoring position Oleson came up clutch, pulling a hard shot just inside the third base chalk line that plated Forster and Connor Patrick and extended Beaverton's lead back out to 6-3. Nothing says clutch like two-out RBIs that either break up a tie or cushion a lead in a big spot against a great ball club. In those situations, Oleson said he couldn't wait to get up rake.
"The ball looked like a beach ball to me," Oleson said with a smile. "It gives you the confidence to just swing. Earlier in the season, I was letting some good pitches go by, but now I see a good pitch and I just attack it straight up. I just felt really focused at the beginning of the game. I just tried to not do too much (with pitches), put the bat on the ball and let it play out. Fortunately, it worked out this game."
Oleson's defense backed him beautifully too, as Patrick, Walker turned a double play that Cooper Martineau scooped out of the dirt at first base to end the top half of the fifth. And in the sixth with two outs and runners in scoring position Williamson popped out to Martineau, who battled the swirling winds, halfway knelt down in foul ground and caught the tough popout to strand both runners in scoring position to end the sixth. Then Oleson added to already hearty day with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth. In total command of the contest atop the mound, Oleson forced Guerra into a one-pitch comebacker to the mound, struck out Barela swinging and ended the game by striking out freshman Jake Dodge.
Oleson went 3-for-3 at the plate and allowed just one hit in nearly four innings of work on the bump. Walker went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Forster reached base twice as the Beavers piled up six walks as a team. Munger went five innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and striking out nine. Joe Burton threw one inning in relief for Westview. Baltus went three and a third innings, allowing three runs on four hits and striking out three. Barela led Westview with two hits.
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