The road back to the baseball diamond has been a long and strenuous journey for Summerville Bear pitcher Johnathan Olsen.
The senior dislocated his throwing shoulder during the middle of football season, cutting short his time on the gridiron and possibly ending his baseball career.
Olsen also tore a few muscles in his shoulder, including his biceps.
With the baseball season more than six months away, the right-hander wasn't sure if he would be able to return in time for the start of his final year.
"Honestly, I didn't think so," Olsen said. "But I wanted to believe I could."
Through rehabilitation sessions with Bones Physical Therapy in Sonora, Olsen worked his way back to form, albeit not 100 percent.
Olsen's rehab included band exercises to strengthen and stretch out his right shoulder, andon Wednesdayagainst Bret Harte in just his third start on the mound, the senior tossed four innings with no earned runs allowed while striking out four to help lift the Bears over the Bullfrogs 5-2 in Tuolumne.
"He's still limited on pitching, so we like to get him out there," said Summerville head coach Larry Gold. "It was a good performance on the mound. He was throwing good pitches and kept them off balance."
Bret Harte took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, thanks in part, to a fielding error. The Bullfrogs tacked on another run in the third to stretch their lead to two when Nick Kalika drove in Austin Miguel on a fielder's choice.
But Summerville answered in the bottom of the third.
With two outs, Bear lefty Kai Bannister singled to center field to spark the rally. Bannister advanced to second on a Bret Harte wild pitch. Billy Butler and Preston Leslie both drew walks to load the bases.
Then Olsen blasted a single to right field to score the Bears first run. Cleanup hitter Bryce Farrell knotted the contest at two with another single to left.
In a scoreless fourth, Olsen struck out two and retired another to end his day. The senior was pulled after he reached his pitch count.
"We just have to limit his pitches," Gold said. "We wish we can take him longer, but he gives us what he can. I'm pleased with that."
"It teaches you a lot about yourself if you can come back from something like that and go out and pitch in a regular season game," Olsen said. "But I couldn't have done it without an outstanding defense behind me. The infield and outfield did a good job. It was an all-around good effort by the defense. Can't win without them."
Summerville took the lead for good in the fifth, and again, it was Olsen who pulled through. With two runners in scoring position, Olsen drove in Butler on a ground out. Farrell added to the attack with his second RBI single to left field to give the Bears a 4-2 advantage.
In the sixth, Olsen drove in the final run on a single that scored Butler.
"His hitting was good clutch hitting," Gold said of Olsen. "He stayed within himself. He hit the ball well today."
Bear relief pitcher Nathan Bruce filled in for Olsen and rifled two scoreless innings for the win. The senior got out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the top of the fifth by forcing two flyouts and a groundout.
Farrell recorded the save in the seventh. The junior retired the Bullfrogs side in order.
"The team did good," Olsen said. "We came together as a team. Not one person stood out anymore than others. We played well together as a team. That's how you win baseball games."
Leslie went a perfect 2 for 2 and Bannister was 1 of 2 with a run scored.
Bret Harte pitcher Kyle Olsen threw six innings and struck out three.
Austin Miguel, Nick Kalika, Tyler Tafjen, Kyle Olsen, Cameren Herrin and Boyce Small all had a hit for the Bullfrogs. Kalika and Kyle Kraft each had an RBI. The Bullfrogs also left five runners on base.
"We didn't get the big hit," said Bret Harte head coach Heath Lane. "We didn't get the hit when we had guys in scoring position. In the inning where we had bases-loaded, no outs, we couldn't score a run. That was a big one. Early in the game, we had them on the ropes a couple of times and made some mental mistakes that took us out of the inning. But they (Summerville) came through. It seemed like they always got the big hits when they needed to. They had a two-out rally that put them up."
Summerville (5-6 Mother Lode League) hits the roadFridayto face Argonaut at4 p.m.in Jackson.
Bret Harte (2-9 MLL) will host Amador at4 p.m.in Angels Camp.
"We're young and we're learning," Lane said. "The kids are really good, positive kids that show up every day and work hard. They never quit. That's all I can ask. It's been a great experience dealing with them. I know we're learning, but we'll bring back six or seven starters next year. We're a young group, so we're just trying to get better everyday."