Baseball | Piedmont beats Colusa, advances to regional title

Damin Esper

Shafer Dando launches a 3-run HR in the third inning.

John Olsen went the distance and pitched a two-hit shutout to help lead Piedmont High School’s baseball team to a 5-0 win over visiting Colusa on May 30 in the California Interscholastic Federation Northern Regional Division 4 semifinals.

The Highlanders advance to the June 1 championship game against Bradshaw Christian-Sacramento. As the top seed, Piedmont will host the 4 p.m. game.

Olsen and the Highlanders thought their season might be over on May 25 after losing the North Coast Section Division 4 championship game to Justin-Siena-Napa, 11-1. Olsen started and had a particularly frustrating afternoon, with defensive miscues behind him contributing to the difficult outing.

All was back to normal against Colusa. Olsen struck out six and walked two. He put the leadoff man on three times but never allowed a second baserunner in an inning.

John Olsen concentrates while delivering a pitch.

“I came in feeling good,” Olsen said. “We had a couple of practices in between there where I got back into repairing everything with my defense and talking to them and watching them make plays and clearly they came out strong today and they had my back 100 percent. I just pitched like I knew that and it worked.”

There was a clear sign early. Olsen started the game by hitting leadoff hitter Luke Kalfsbeek. Sutter Moss then grounded what appeared to be a sharp single into right field, but Shafer Dando came up with the ball quickly and threw Moss out at first.

Amazingly, the RedHawks turned the same straight-out-of-Little-League play later in the game. Olsen walked Seth Kalisuch to lead off the second, but then struck out the side. Piedmont (19-9) got the only run Olsen would need in the bottom of the first, helped along by a Colusa error and a wild pitch. But the Highlanders had led the Justin-Siena game 1-0 as well. The key moment came in the third. A walk, a single and a wild pitch scored Diego Delventhal with a run. Dando came to the plate with two on and two out. He promptly deposited the first pitch he saw from Julian Mendiola over the left field fence for a three-run homer.

“I went up there and I was like, ‘I’ve just got to hit the ball and put it in play,’ and hopefully it goes somewhere and my guys can score,” Dando said. “I saw an inside pitch and I just turned out it. Obviously, it did well.”

Olsen appreciated the significance. “Not only does that get us fired up, it gets them demoralized,” Olsen said. “It gets them thinking, ‘Man, even if we hit a grand slam, we can’t come back immediately.’ That’s such a huge factor in the win.”

Dando said he was happy he and his teammates could support Olsen this time. “Last outing, nothing went his way,” Dando said. “Defense didn’t play up to him. I didn’t play well, no one else really played well that game. We knew we had to come out here and play well for him again. Don’t end it on a bad start.”

The RedHawks finished the season 28-4. Next up is second-seeded Bradshaw Christian, a 6-1 winner over Mountain View on May 30. The Pride comes in with a 31-1 record.

“There have been a lot of things that have not been on the white board at the start of the year,” Olsen said of reaching the regional final. “It seems like these guys just exceed my expectations every day we come out here. Even in practice, watching people hit four home runs in a single round of batting practice. Even the small things, they all exceed that. There has been so much growth from guys who were already great at the start of the year.”

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