Baseball: Olympia overpowers Wolves

SK catcher Alex Sablan is late on the tag to Olympia’s Tanner Fijolek, who scored from second after a pickoff attempt and subsequent relay to third went wild. - Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo
SK catcher Alex Sablan is late on the tag to Olympia’s Tanner Fijolek, who scored from second after a pickoff attempt and subsequent relay to third went wild.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo

At least one ranking has suggested that South Kitsap’s baseball program might be en route to vying for another state championship.

The Washington Baseball Poll recently had the Wolves ranked fifth among Class 4A teams.

South coach Jim Fairweather said he saw another that had his team No. 4 in its classification.

But Fairweather does not think the rankings, which seem surprising given the team’s youth, were a factor in Tuesday’s 14-3 loss against Olympia in 4A Narrows League play.

“I put an end to that right away,” he said. “I said, ‘Those are people who haven’t seen you play. They’ve just been talking. Maybe they just need a representative from this side. You know — you better know — that every time you come out, you reinvent yourself. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says about you. All that matters is the guys across the plate from you.’ ”

The Wolves (6-2 overall, 6-2 league) began their game against the Bears 11 days earlier. But that contest was suspended for rain with Olympia ahead 4-2 with one out and a runner on third base in the second inning.

The extended break did not improve South’s performance on the mound. Josh Johnston started the April 1 game and sophomore Kellen Traxel took over when the teams took their positions. The first ball that was delivered from the left-hander was a wild pitch that widened the Bears’ lead to 5-2.

That was just a foreshadowing of events to come.

The third arguably was the Wolves’ worst inning of the season. Following a lead-off walk by catcher Casey Thorpe, designated hitter Tanner Fijolek doubled to left field. Both scored on the ensuing at-bat when catcher Alex Sablan threw the ball into center field. D’Aundray Van Slyke then overthrew third base, which allowed Fijolek to score.

Second baseman Colin Lang followed with a walk and scored when shortstop Cabe Reiten hit a one-out Traxel pitch over the left-field fence to extend Olympia’s lead to 9-2. Third baseman Eric O’Bryan and right fielder Cole Loncar then hit singled and doubled, respectively. Both scored on a two-out, two-base throwing error by third baseman Zach Mendiola that allowed left fielder Brad Williams to reach first base. Thorpe then singled to score Williams before reliever Cory Main struck out Fijolek — the 11th batter of the inning — to end the third. Olympia led 12-3 at that point.

None of the Wolves’ pitchers had much success locating their pitches. South walked 11 batters and two Olympia players were hit by pitches.

Fairweather, who noted that his team had more hits (8 to 7) than the Bears, felt that was the difference.

“It’s pretty obvious that pitching will drive everything,” he said.

South added a run in the third when junior first baseman Mike Nelson, who finished 3 for 3, doubled to score senior second baseman Tanner Romo.

“Nelson is just consistent every time he comes out,” Fairweather said. “He knows how to get ready for a game.”

But he felt Nelson was one of the few exceptions. He told his team afterward that he “didn’t think we competed.”

“You can’t do it with two or three guys,” Fairweather said. “That starts with the guy on the hill. If he’s having a tough time — it just magnifies every error or every time you don’t get a hit.”

Olympia (8-4, 7-1) added two more runs in the fifth when first baseman Gabe Padukiewicz walked and Thorpe later followed with a two-run home run to left field.

It was the culmination of just the second game — the Wolves defeated Stadium 3-2 on Monday — of four scheduled contests this week. But Fairweather said it is imperative that his team recovers from its lopsided loss.

“Everyone is going to look at this and think we’re not for real,” he said. “We need to have an answer the next time we step on the field.”

Olympia 14, at South Kitsap 3 (5)
Olympia          057      02        —        14        7          0
South Kitsap   201      00        —        3          8          3
Brady Batt, Colin Lang (2) and Casey Thorpe. Josh Johnston, Kellen Traxel (2), Cory Main (3) and Alex Sablan.
W—Batt. L—Johnston.
Leading hitters—Cabe Reiten (O) 1-2 HR 2 RBI; Casey Thorpe (O) 2-4 HR; Tanner Fijolek (O) 2-3 2B; Mike Nelson (SK) 3-3 2B 3B RBI; D’Aundray Van Slyke (SK) 2-3 2B 2 RBI.

At South Kitsap 3, Stadium 2
Stadium           000      110      0          —        2          6          1
South Kitsap   100      001      1          —        3          8          3
Destunder and O’Laughlin. Zach Mendiola, Thomas Simpson (5) and Alex Sablan.
W—Simpson. L—Destunder.
Leading hitters—Brand (St) 2-3; Mendiola (SK) 3-3.

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