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Baseball: Sablan's home run propels Wolves to win
TACOMA — South Kitsap coach Jim Fairweather can trust him to tend to his house when he is on vacation.
Now he knows he also can count on senior shortstop Vince Sablan with the game on the line.
With a full count, Sablan hit the go-ahead home run off left-handed starter Mark Lane that easily cleared the 370-foot wall in right-center field to guide the Wolves to a 5-3 win Wednesday in Class 4A Narrows League play at Bellarmine Prep.
“It was a full count and I was going to swing at anything close,” said Sablan, whose home run was his first in high school. “I gave it all I could.”
Sablan’s home run came with one out, but South (8-4 overall, 7-4 league) was not finished there. Second baseman Kevin Whatley followed with a walk and scored when first baseman Mike Nelson, who went 2 for 4, doubled to left-center field to end Lane’s game. Right-hander Ryan Hayes entered and retired the next two batters to end the inning.
But that was more than enough support for right-hander Michael Wood, who pitched two scoreless innings. Finishing off the Lions (6-6, 5-6) was far from easy, though.
Right fielder Paul Huiras hit a lead-off double against Wood, who responded by striking out first baseman Mathew Jacobsen. He then appeared to have induced left fielder Brandon Thompson, who went 3 for 5, into a ground out. But the ball was bobbled by the third baseman. That allowed the go-ahead runner to twice step up to the plate until Hayes grounded out and shortstop Connor Jensen struck out to end the game.
Both teams were slow to find their offense as they combined for just one hit through the first three innings. But with one out in the fourth, Whatley placed a bunt that straddled the grass down the third-base line. With the no-hit bid over, South finally gained some offensive momentum as Nelson followed with a single before senior catcher Alex Sablan and junior third baseman Jesse Moore hit consecutive doubles to drive in three runs.
“I believed we were going to hit (Lane),” Fairweather said. “We figured him out the second time around the lineup. I thought we were going to bury him.”
The Wolves did not do that, but it appeared their production might be enough for starter Josh Johnston until the bottom half of the inning when the first four hitters reached on singles and a walk that scored Hayes. But Johnston struck out the next two batters and Huiras grounded out to end the threat.
Bellarmine’s offense picked right back up in the fifth, though. Jacobsen and Thompson started the inning with doubles and Hayes walked to load the bases. The Lions then tied the game, 3-all, on a sacrifice fly by Jensen and an RBI single from right fielder George Foley.
Johnston allowed eight hits, while striking out seven in six innings. He wanted to stay in longer, but Fairweather noted that he already had exceeded 100 pitches. Fairweather praised the competitiveness of both of his pitchers — Wood closed out Tuesday’s 10-7 win against Shelton. Both also overcame three errors Wednesday.
“We didn’t play good defense, but we got great pitching,” Fairweather said.
It appeared that South might regain the lead in the seventh inning when center fielder Logan Knowles drew a one-out walk. During the ensuing at-bat, Lane attempted to pick him off, but overthrew the first baseman. Knowles rounded second and appeared to avoid the tag at third base, but was called out. Pinch-hitter Tyler Pinkerton then flew out to center field. Knowles likely would have scored on the play.
“We’ve had a tough time getting calls over here,” Fairweather said. “I told them we’ve got a lot of adversity to overcome.
“It was a very satisfying win. I credit these kids and that’s why I love them so much.”
South Kitsap 5, at Bellarmine Prep 3 (8)
South Kitsap 000 300 02 — 5 6 3
Bellarmine Prep 000 120 00 — 3 9 1
Josh Johnston, Michael Wood (7) and Alex Sablan. Mark Lane, Ryan Hayes (8) and Michael Ota.
Leading hitters—Mike Nelson (SK) 2-4 2B run RBI, Alex Sablan (SK) 1-4 2B run 2 RBI, Vince Sablan (SK) 1-4 HR RBI, Jesse Moore (SK) 1-4 2B RBI, Brandon Thompson (BP) 3-5 2B run, George Foley (BP) 3-4 RBI.