South sees season come to a close on opposite ends of blowouts

By the time their Saturday finally came to an end, many members of the South Kitsap baseball team could only shake their hands in disbelief and crack half-smiles.

A day that begin with a 5 a.m. wakeup call ended just before 7 p.m. with the team that no one believed in seeing its season come to an end on the opposite ends of blowouts.

It was, to say the least, an almost comical day for the Wolves.

“I’m happy with my guys, and I’m tickled to have had the chance,” South coach Jim Fairweather said. “To have a chance to be in the deal, that’s all you can ask for. This game’s funny, and the ball bounces weird, and you

never know. This game, sometimes it can be brutal to you and sometimes it can be a lot of fun.”

South made the most of its first appearance in the Class 4A state tournament in three years by pounding the stuffing out of Puyallup, 21-2, before having the exact same done to it in the afternoon as Jackson High out of

Mill Creek ended the Wolves late-season run, 18-0.

South closed out the 2006 campaign with a 13-8 overall record and a berth in the state’s elite eight, coming up one win short of a trip to Safeco Field in Seattle and a final four appearance.

And in a strange way, the day and the events that occurred were almost a fitting end to the season.

“I’m so proud of these guys – I really thought they battled,” Fairweather said. “I know the season was in turmoil, and they hung together and got it going again and did just a great job of coming together and battled through some really big games and getting us in a position so we could do this.”

No one thought this eclectic group would get out of its own division, let alone come one game away from the state’s final four. But through it all, a sense of togetherness led to some validation

Just a few weeks ago, South was on the verge of not making the playoffs, but an attitude adjustment led to a run that sparked memories of past South Kitsap baseball teams. The Wolves won nine of their final 12 games to get into position to make a post-season run.

As hard as the Wolves worked to get into the states final eight, it didn’t take long for them to find out just how good the competition was.

In Jackson, South ran into a juggernaut of talent. The Timberwolves are ranked second in the nation by Baseball America and wasted little time proving why to the Wolves, by scoring 11 runs in the first two innings.

By the time the game was over, South had managed just one hit and used six pitchers. Jackson, on the other hand, had pounded out 23 hits and left little doubt which team was the favorite to win it all.

“I’ve never had something like that happen,” Fairweather said of the difference in the two games. “I’ve been beaten bad in my career ... I’ve been drubbed on a few times in my career and I know how it feels. But here, geez, you feel very helpless.”

Fairweather did what he could to keep the score within reach, but there really wasn’t much he could do with the potent lineup the Timberwolves put on the field.

University of Washington-bound pitcher Cameron Nobles allowed just one hit over five innings and struck out 10 while his teammates hit just about everything South could muster.

“I tip my cap to them because they were pretty legit today,” Fairweather said. “There’s not much you can do or say, they outplayed us in every facet.

“I don’t think there’s any question that they are the team that should win it,” he added. “That is a legit team. They play like (they did against us) and nobody can stop them. I’m serious. That’s an A game if you ever saw one.”

After spending the majority of the year trying to prove themselves, the Wolves got the ultimate slap in the face when Puyallup decided not to start its top pitcher Ryan Graves in the morning quarterfinal game, opting

instead to save him for the region final that followed.

The problem was, that plan backfired right out of the gate as South put 11 runs up in the first inning.

“When they threw their No. 2 (pitcher) at us that kind of got as mad, like they didn’t respect us at all,” said South shortstop Zach Jacob. “So we took it to them.”

Jacob keyed the first-inning explosion with a three-run blast over the left-center field wall in his second at bat of the inning. Ryan Cosgrove followed with a solo homer to make the score 11-0.

The Wolves sent 15 batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring 11 times on seven hits and two errors.

Senior Kyle Pease literally knocked out the Vikings starting pitcher, Derek Ballard, in his second at-bat by

rocketing a line-drive off his right ankle.

But by then, the onslaught had just begun.

Things got even worse in the second inning when the Wolves sent seven straight batters to the plate before Puyallup could record an out.

Four runs, four hits and a couple of errors later, South led 15-1 and tempers began to flare.

Viking coach Marc Wiese questioned some of Fairweather’s base-running tactics midway through the second inning after Jason Read stole third with the Wolves up 13-1.

Fairweather defended his players’ move by telling Wiese that he expected the Vikings to mount a comeback and wondered out loud if Puyallup had already given up.

South never did and Fairweather hopes everyone involved learned something.

“To get to deal with all of this, even to deal with this drubbing, it’s very painful,” Fairweather said. “But I’ll still take it.

“Anybody — and I’m talking throughout the school, community, anybody we talked to — said we wouldn’t beat Puyallup,” Fairweather said. “(They said) we didn’t belong here. I feel like we got a little bit of legitimacy. This is a tough bracket – I don’t know of too many teams that would have done any better than we did.”

Class 4A State Baseball Championships

Played May 20 at Memorial Stadium in Everett

Region I Final

Jackson 18, South Kitsap 0

Jackson 653 121 0 – 18 23 0

South Kitsap 000 000 0 – 0 1 2

Mitch Williams, Brent Pishue (1), Andrew Thatcher (3), David Hammrich (5),

Brad Johnson (6), Kyle Pease (7) and Aaron Smothers; Cameron Nobles, Joey

Petosa (6) and Kawika Emsley-Pai, Jeff Mohweis (4). W-Nobles (9-0).

L-Williams (1-3).

Leading hitters — J: Travis Snider 3-3 (HR, 4 RBI), Jon Wahl 3-4, Joey

Petosa 3-4 (2 2b, 6 RBI); SK – Aaron Smothers 1-2.

State Quarterfinal

South Kitsap 21, Puyallup 2

South Kitsap (11)41 212 0 – 21 20 2

Puyallup 101 000 0 – 2 7 8

Andrew Thatcher, Brent Pishue (4), Brad Johnson (6) and Aaron Smothers;

Derek Ballard, Ben Ruff (1), Josh Harris (2), Troy Kuzminsky (3), Alec

Elliot (4), Alex Mahler (5), Ryan Graves (6) and Sean Ramalho and Dave

McMasters (4). W-Pishue (3-0). L-Ballard (4-1).

Leading hitters — SK: Zach Jacob 2-3 (HR, 4 RBI), Ryan Cosgrove 2-5 (HR, 2

RBI), Josh Lounsberry 3-4 (2 RBI), Michael Cooper 1-3 (HR, 2 RBI), Josh

Puckett 2-4 (2 runs), David Hammrich 1-1 (2B, RBI), Aaron Smothers 4-5

(RBI, 2 runs), Jason Read 1-5 (2B,2RBI). Puy: Nic Shadle 1-4, Jett Hart

1-4 (2B,RBI), Jace Sloan 1-3, Ben Ausbun 1-3 (2B,RBI).

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