The caliber of pitching in the Class 4A Narrows League is different than South Kitsap is accustomed.
And the Wolves are struggling to adjust.
South produced just one hit and was held scoreless for the first time this season during Wednesday’s 2-0 loss against Gig Harbor.
The Wolves (4-2 overall, 0-2 league) now have scored just four runs in league play. During the nonleague schedule, they averaged 11.25 runs per contest.
“We’re just going to have to go out and hit, hit, hit,” said South coach Marcus Logue, referring to practice. “We were doing it early on in the season and I just think we have become picky.”
Right-handed starter Josh Johnston also was not helped by his defense during the opening inning. An error helped shortstop Haak Wagner reach base with one out. Third baseman Sterling Brown then hit into a fielder’s choice that would have ended the inning. Instead, the Tides (4-1, 1-1) took advantage of the extra opportunity when first baseman Garrett Gallinger doubled to score Brown.
It was the only run — unearned — surrendered by Johnston.
“Josh Johnston did a tremendous job in terms of preparation,” Logue said. “He had pretty good defense behind him and he kept the ball down. It was nice to see that out of him.”
That was sufficient for right-handed starter Nick Gagliardi, who threw 44 of 63 pitches for strikes during his six innings. He finished with five strikeouts and did not allow a hit until the sixth inning when right fielder Tiler Moore singled between first and second base.
Moore’s hit, which came with one out, presented South’s best scoring opportunity. Gagliardi attempted to pick him off, but the first baseman could not handle the throw and the ball traveled to the fence, which allowed Moore to advance to third.
“We had the steal sign on,” Logue said. “We were just going to try and put pressure on them so we could probably get some sort of look over at first base. It was good to have that opportunity.”
It was one the Wolves were not able to capitalize on as center fielder Tom Simpson grounded out to shortstop and Kevin Whatley struck out.
Logue said Simpson’s grounder did not advance far enough for Moore to attempt to score.
“In reality what we would like him to do is be able to drive that ball deep and get that run in there,” he said. “But just with where the [wide] strike zone was — and they were keeping the ball down — if anything we were just getting ground balls.
“We weren’t going to score off that type of hit right to the shortstop. If he comes on that one he’s getting thrown out and we lose our opportunity.”
South had one more chance in the seventh inning against left-handed reliever Dean Hassan as Jesse Moore and Tyler Ludlow both drew two-out walks. But the Wolves’ comeback hopes ended when designated hitter Tanner Paulson flew out to right field to end the game.
Before Monday’s 10-4 loss at Olympia, South had not played in nine days. Logue does not think the layoff adversely affected the Wolves’ hitting, though.
“We’ve just had a couple of rough games,” Logue said. “We’ll make those adjustments. They’re resilient. They’ll work hard.”
Gig Harbor 2, at South Kitsap 0
Gig Harbor 100 000 1 — 2 9 1
South Kitsap 000 000 0 — 0 1 1
Nick Gagliardi, Dean Hassan (7) and Mark Sluys. Josh Johnston, Bryce Broome (7) and Tyler Pinkerton.
Leading hitters-Drew Frame (GH) 2-4; Garrett Gallinger (GH) 2-4 2 2B RBI.
At Olympia 10, South Kitsap 4
South Kitsap 001 003 0 — 4 9 3
Olympia 406 000 x — 10 12 3
Kellen Traxel, Michael Wood (1), Logan Knowles (4) and Tyler Pinkerton. Hansen, Loague (7) and Stottlemyre.
Leading hitters-Tanner Paulson (SK0 3-4 run; Pinkerton (SK) 2-4 RBI; Tom Simpson (SK) 2-4 RBI run; Loague (O) 2-3 2B HR 2 runs.