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Ryan Orr ties program-record 17 strikeouts, leads Tumwater past Shadle Park in WIAA regional baseball playoffs

How did the Washington State commit ties his own program record for strikeouts in a game? 'I just try to go after kids'

CHEHALIS, Wash. — Ryan Orr’s first pitch of the day was striped out to right field for a single. In his next 107 pitches thereafter, bat-to-ball contact was minimal.

The Washington State pledge, one of the state’s most dominant arms, struck out 17 in a complete game start to lead the four-seeded Thunderbirds (19-6) to a 7-1 win over Shadle Park in the first of a regional win-or-go-home doubleheader. 

"I had good fastball location and was working my curveball for strikes, then had a changeup off of that," Orr said. "Mixed up a couple of two-seams as well, I felt good."

His 17 strikeouts tied a program record set by afternoon starter, teammate and UNLV commit Jordan Hanson on March 22 against Black Hills. Orr matched the record himself in a district win over Hockinson on May 11.

Tumwater beat Ephrata 2-1 in the regional semifinal Saturday afternoon on the strength of Hanson's dominant pitching outing. The four-seeded T-Birds face league foe WF West — which it swept 3-0 this season — in the Class 2A state semifinals at County Stadium in Yakima on Friday.

Orr prides himself on attacking the strike zone. It's how he asserts himself during a start. As the T-Birds' No. 1 arm in a loaded arsenal, he got the nod in the first of two win-or-go-home regional games.

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He didn't just dispense of 17 of the 25 batters he faced. He only allowed three hits, one run (none earned) and two walks. In total, 71 of his 109 pitches were strikes.

He just needed to settle in. He gave up a single to senior Beckett Ensminger on his first pitch from the start and walked Dylan Kakuda. Both runners advanced to scoring position as he struck out Johnny Hernandez and closed out the inning with a pair of strikeouts.

The second inning? Orr retired the side.

Innings three and four? Three up, three down. 

"I just try to go after kids," Orr said. "It feels nice knowing my team can depend on me to go out there and keep them in games all the time. I just try to do it for my teammates."

Tumwater has three Division I-committed arms. Orr is the day one starter. Behind him, there is Seattle U-committed senior Blake Smith, who suffered a season-ending knee injury, and Hanson.

To Hanson, Orr sets the standard. 

"And I just try to chase it," he said.

In a year when pitchers are dominating the state of Washington, Orr's starts have attracted pro scouts. But unlike Toutle Lake's Jackson Cox or Bainbridge's JR Ritchie, his draft stock for July's MLB Draft isn't there in the same way. 

(RELATED: Bainbridge's potential first-round MLB draft pick JR Ritchie was heckled mercilessly — until this happened)

He's hoping, he said, to see how many heads he can turn playing club ball once the high school season is over. 

--Andy Buhler; @AndyBuhler.