Pair of losses to PA puts SK in danger of missing playoff

From second place and looking good, to fourth place and in danger of not advancing to the postseason in just a matter of hours.

Welcome to Jim Fairweather’s nightmare.

After being swept for the first time this year under the new scheduling format, the South Kitsap baseball team is faced with its toughest task yet, playing the league-leading team in the final series of the year and needing a pair of wins to ensure a playoff berth.

“We know the situation, that’s for sure,” said Fairweather, after losing two games to Port Angeles this week. “At least I think they know the situation and they know we’re going to have to bring more intensity.”

After losing to the Roughrider 5-3 at home on Wednesday and 4-1 at PA on Thursday, South, (11-5 overall and 7-5 in league) dropped to fourth place in the Narrows League Bridge Division and opens a two-game series today with North Kitsap (14-1,11-0). A sweep of the third-ranked Vikings would ensure the Wolves a playoff berth. Gig Harbor (9-9,6-6) and Olympic (7-8,6-6) face each other to close out the regular season, looking to take the final spot from the Wolves.

There are many different scenarios that could play out this weekend but if the Wolves win both of their final two games, they are in.

It’s that easy.

“That’s what it boils down too,” Fairweather said. “(The kids) are stunned right now. (Port Angeles) is the most mediocre team I’ve ever been beaten by, at least twice. I don’t know what else to say.”

South’s problem’s started in Tuesday’s game when the team stranded 11 runners on base, including five on third base in the game’s first five innings.

“All I know is (Port Angeles) didn’t pitch great pitchers and we didn’t just smoke them like we should have,” Fairweather said. “And that’s the frustrating part.”

That was compounded as Matt Hudson turned in his best outing of the year. The senior threw 125 pitches, gave up six hits and stuck out 11 but didn’t get the run support needed to win.

“I felt great, that’s probably the best I’ve felt all year,” Hudson said. “Everything was working for me. In the past, I’ve just had one or two pitches working but (Tuesday) everything felt good. It felt like I pitched the way I know I can.”

And while Hudson was cruising, his only mistake was a split finger that didn’t drop and instead ended up as a three-run homer off the bat of Adam Macomber, his offense just couldn’t come up with the timely hit needed to put the Wolves on top.

“That’s just baseball,” Hudson said. “I try not to think about it because I don’t want to put that much pressure on my team because I know it’s tough and I know they’re trying.

“But that’s baseball,” he said. “There are days when the pitcher is having a great day and hitters aren’t doing anything and the other way around. We just couldn’t get a rally going (Tuesday) and that’s baseball.”

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead on Zach Jacob’s two-run double, South had trouble getting any more runs across.

Lead-off doubles were followed by strike outs and ground outs. Runners at second and third with one out turned into no runs. Bases loaded situations led to nothing again and again.

“We had our guy come up and not get hits,” Fairweather said. “I’m frustrated with Matt battling his ass off, he’s out there fighting … and we can’t hit these guys. Something’s amiss.”

South scored one more time to tie the game but lost in the seventh when PA pushed a couple of runs across.

The frustration carried over into Wednesday’s 4-1 loss as Andrew Thatcher pitched well enough to win but the bats were silent again.

“We didn’t hit it,” Fairweather said. “And when we did, we hit it right to them. Thatchter threw a really good game but we just didn’t hit the ball.”

The Roughriders got back-to-back triples from Macomber and Perry Knudson to break the game open in the third inning. South scored it only run on a ground out by Jacob.

“We’re just not hitting,” Fairweather said. “It’s funny how it works. If we’re pitching well, we can’t hit. If we hit well, we can’t pitch. I thought we were in pretty good shape, but now I don’t know how to react.”

South travels to Poulsbo today for a noon start. The Wolves will throw Hudson while league MVP Jared Prince will go for the Vikings. South closes out the regular season Monday at 3:45 at the SK field.

Port Angeles 4, South Kitsap 1

Played May 4 at Port Angeles

Andrew Thatcher, Jason Read (6) and Aaron Smothers; Cameron LeDuke and Brandon Kenney. W—LaDuke. L—Thatcher (4-1).

Leading hitters: SK – Zach Jacob (RBI). PA - Adam Macomber 2-3 (3b), Perry Knudson (3b,2RBI).

Port Angeles 5, South Kitsap 3

Played May 3 at South Kitsap

Darling, LeDuke, and Kenney; Matt Hudson, Kyle Pease (7) and Aaron Smothers. W-Cameron LeDuke. L-Hudson (4-4).

Leading hitters: PA - Adam Macomber 2-4 (HR,3RBI), Stone 2-4, Stafhstahl 2-4, Kenney 2-4 (2b). SK- Dan Dillard 2-3, Zack Jacob 2-3 (2B,3RBI), Doug Franz 2-3 (22B).

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