A California pitcher finished his team's last regular-season home game with 20 strikeouts … and was only kept from a shot at a complete-strikeout game because he was removed with one out remaining.
The budding star in question is a junior hurler for Upland (Calif.) Western Christian School, a relatively small parochial school in the Los Angeles area with a burgeoning baseball program. Right-hander Ryan Olson is the newest name in the school's arsenal of strong pitching, with his final home outing of the regular season — a 6-0 victory against Murietta (Calif.) Calvary Murrieta School -- proof of his dominance.
As first noted by the Los Angeles Times, Olson completely dominated the Calvary Murrieta hitters, striking out 20 batters in 6 2/3 innings to post one of the most impressive displays in Southern California this spring. Considering the fact that Westlake (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake aces Lucas Giolito (who missed most of the spring with an elbow injury) and Max Fried are both expected to be selected early in the forthcoming MLB entry draft, that's quite a statement.
Yet, Olson's dominance wasn't enough to earn him a complete game, for what many might consider a rather noble reason: He was removed to make way for a senior pitcher because the home finale also served as Western Christian's senior day.
There's no debating that having a senior finish off a senior day game is a classy move, but whether or not Olson should have been pulled in the middle of such a dominant performance is a legitimate question. It's not often that a pitcher hits 20 strikeouts in nine innings (just ask Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood) let alone in seven. There's a very realistic prospect that Olson will never have another 20-strikeout game, let alone have a chance at recording number 21 with one out remaining in the game.
While it will be another year at least until we know if Olson's future will come in the collegiate or minor professional ranks, the teen has already committed to the University of San Diego, thanks to his prior body of work at La Verne (Calif.) Damien High and with the SGV Arsenal program. The Times reported that Olson's A-grade academic work is as impressive as his pitching.
All of those factors have to be comforting for Olson, not to mention for San Diego and Western Christian, which knows it has another year of Olson tossing fireballs ahead.