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Wolves capture Narrows League title with comeback effort
"Even when trailing 6-0, coach Elton Goodwin said he knew his South Kitsap High School baseball team could come back and win the Narrows League championship game against Wilson last Friday at SK's field.His prediction held true as the Wolves won 12-9 and earned not only the championship but a No. 1 seed into the West Central District tournament.The Wolves, 19-0 and top-ranked in the state, will play Evergreen of Vancouver at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma Friday at noon in the district opener.Evergreen is the No. 2 seed out of the Greater St. Helens League.If SK wins, it will advance to the state tournament with seven other teams. If the Wolves lose, they will play a loser-out game later that afternoon.As of Monday afternoon, Goodwin said he didn't know anything about Evergreen. But coaching a team that he said is the best hitting club I've ever had can make a coach feel confident going into any game.What impressed Goodwin more against Wilson in the NL showdown last week was the Wolves' resilience when trailing.Wilson piled up six runs in the first inning, but the Wolves started their counter in the bottom of the same inning with two runs.Led by Jimmy Newell's solo home run, SK tacked on three runs in the second to pull within 6-5.Wilson stretched its lead back to three in the top of the fourth inning, but SK managed two runs of its own to keep the score close at 8-7.The Wolves finally took their first lead in the fifth inning after Newell scored on a throwing error and Adam Seward's single knocked in Steve Hall.Wilson knotted the score 9-9 on Derek Hartman's solo home run. But the Wolves scored the game's final three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.Seann Hammon struggled on the mound, giving up six runs in one-third inning before Scott Hartung came in for his 10th relief appearance.Hartung allowed just three runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings.This team battled back, huh? Goodwin said. After the first inning, I brought them in and said, 'Guys, there's nothing to panic about here. You guys are going to start battling back.' I tried to calm them down.That pep talk seemed to work with SK getting two runs back in the bottom of the inning.It was also an uncharacteristic game for team that prides itself on defense.Leading up to the game, the Wolves had committed just 10 errors all season. But they nearly equaled half of their total with four errors, two by sure-handed shortstop Matt Einspahr.It's one of those games where you don't want the ball, Einspahr said. But it just keeps getting hit to you. I don't know, I must have lost my focus or something.Newell, who broke out of a mini-batting slump with his home run and two doubles, said it was just a matter of time before the team would catch up to Wilson's University of Washington-bound pitcher, John Otness.We'd already seen this guy and we knew we could hit him as long as we didn't panic, Newell said. We didn't bring our defense today and played a little tight. Luckily, we could sit back and relax and let the hitting take care of itself.Goodwin said he was disappointed with the errors, but he admitted it's tough to go all season without having a bad game. He noted that until the league finale, SK had commited just 10 errors season long.It kind of caught up with us, he said."