TACOMA — As the ball cleared the left-field fence, it appeared to foreshadow a strong finish for South Kitsap.
Instead, it ended up as a mirage.
Senior third baseman Jesse Moore’s two-run home run in the fourth inning was one of only five Wolves’ hits in a 3-2 loss Tuesday in Class 4A Narrows League play at Bellarmine Prep.
“It was another one of those games where we didn’t execute offensively,” South coach Marcus Logue said. “We’ve been working hard at it — trying to work on those little details. We’re probably still pressing too much.”
South’s hitting was not the only issue as the Wolves’ poor defense in both the first and third innings contributed to the Lions’ offense. After a lead-off single by Nathan Heath, Brandon Thompson reached when the first baseman dropped the throw. Heath advanced to third base on that error. He scored during the ensuing at-bat when Andrew Patubo hit a sacrifice fly to center field.
Bellarmine extended its lead to 2-0 in the third inning when Heath reached on a throwing error by the second baseman. Thompson then grounded into a fielder’s choice to eliminate Heath. But Thompson scored when George Foley hit a two-out single.
“Those are crucial as far as runs coming around and giving up those things, but we’ve got to battle back,” Logue said. “In the game of baseball you’re going to deal with those struggles. If you let them compound those problems it’s going to escalate further and further.”
Despite those issues, South (6-3 overall, 2-3 league) was in position to win after Moore’s home run. In the sixth inning, Cody Wolfe led off with a double. Logue then decided to sacrifice catcher Tyler Pinkerton, the team’s No. 3 batter who had hits in both of his first two plate appearances. Despite that, Logue said it was not a difficult decision to make.
“He’s a good bunter,” he said. “We needed that run. That was crucial. And we knew we had Ludlow coming up. In that situation we thought we could get a long fly ball.”
It did not work.
Tyler Ludlow hit a 1-2 pitch that appeared headed into center field for the go-ahead run. Instead, the ball ricocheted off left-handed starter Marcus Lane’s leg toward third base. That stranded Wolfe at third base as Ludlow reached first base. Lane, who remained in the game, then ended the threat when he induced Moore into an inning-ending double play.
“We just need to be more prepared to put the ball into play and put it into places where … we can move them around and score more runs,” Logue said.
The missed opportunity proved costly as Patudo doubled and Foley reached on an error. Designated hitter Harry Stenberg then singled home Patudo off right-handed starter Michael Wood, while Lane retired the Wolves in succession in the seventh inning to lead the Lions (7-3, 3-1) to victory.
“We couldn’t ask for a better performance from him,” said Logue, referring to Wood. “He continues to perform at a high level. Offensively, we need to do a better job as a program of having his back and being behind him.”
South, which defeated Central Kitsap 6-2 on Monday, returns to league play Monday at Yelm. Logue remains confident the Wolves can rebound as the regular season winds down.
“We’re close,” he said. “It’s little things — little details. I think this group of seniors want to be so perfect that they’re putting an extreme amount of pressure on themselves. They know what they’re capable of.”
NOTE: Logue said he still is waiting for MRI results on senior left-hander Kellen Traxel, who injured his triceps muscle in his pitching arm March 25 at Olympia. Traxel is out indefinitely.
At Bellarmine Prep 3, South Kitsap 2
South Kitsap 000 200 0 — 2 5 4
Bellarmine Prep 101 001 x — 3 5 1
Michael Wood and Tyler Pinkerton. Lane and Oda.
Leading hitters-Jesse Moore (SK) 1-3 HR 2 RBI; Cody Wolfe (SK) 1-3 2B; Andrew Patubo (BP) 1-3 RBI; George Foley (BP) 1-3 RBI; Harry Stenberg (BP) 1-3 RBI.
At South Kitsap 6, Central Kitsap 2
Central Kitsap 000 002 0—2 6 2
South Kitsap 000 303 x — 6 4 2
Eric Braun, Nick Barbero (6), Cain (6) and Riley Paschall; Josh Johnston and Tyler Pinkerton.
Leading hitters-Dre McInnis (CK) 2-3; Alec Anderson (CK) 1-1 2 RBI; Tyler Ludlow (SK) 1-2 2B 2 runs 2 RBI; Tanner Paulson (SK) 1-3 3 RBI.