BASEBALL | South Kitsap earns berth to regionals

TACOMA — South Kitsap might have been able to sympathize with Yelm’s plight.

But the Wolves were not about to show any mercy as they claimed a regional berth with their seventh straight win, 5-1, during Tuesday’s Class 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District Tournament against Emerald Ridge at Bellarmine Prep.

South (17-4), which finished second in 4A Narrows despite being without University of Washington-bound left-handed starter Kellen Traxel for most of the season, took advantage of the Jaguars’ pitching woes.

After a back injury forced senior right-hander Kyle Rossman from the game after an inning, the Wolves took advantage of freshman reliever Chris Micheles. Third baseman Jesse Moore led off the second inning with a walk. With two outs, Tiler Moore singled and Alek Morrison did the same during the ensuing at-bat to score Jesse Moore. Morrison and Tiler Moore then crossed home plate when Kevin Whatley singled to left field. After Cody Wolfe drew a walk, junior Kevin Rosin replaced Packard. Rosin retired Tyler Pinkerton to end the inning.

“We heard something happened over in their dugout, but we weren’t too concerned about it,” South coach Marcus Logue said. “That’s the thing about this group — they’re really not too concerned about the other team. We’re worried about us.”

Emerald Ridge coach Tim Spears agreed with an assessment that Rossman’s injury left his team discombobulated.

“Yeah, it was a surprise,” he said. “My starting pitcher and likely MVP for our team goes out with an injury. He’s a guy we really rely on. He’s an ace. To have to take him out after one inning, we were scrambling after that.”

South extended its lead to 4-0 during the third inning when Tiler Moore hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to score Tyler Ludlow.

That was more than enough for Wolves’ starter Josh Johnston. Emerald Ridge mounted its largest threat against Johnston with two outs in the fourth inning when Jordan Stoner singled and then scored during the following at-bat on a double by Landon Packard. The Jaguars appeared poised to cut further into their deficit when Chad Martinson singled to right field, but that ended when Jesse Moore tagged Packard out at third base.

“That was huge,” Logue said. “Pivotal timing.”

South added another run in the bottom of the fourth when Wolfe drew his third walk and scored when Pinkerton doubled off the left-field fence.

After Nathan Horne led off the fifth inning with a single, the Wolves’ pitching staff retired eight consecutive batters to finish the game. Senior right-hander Michael Wood struck out three batters without allowing a baserunner in two innings.

Even without Traxel, who has not pitched since March 25 when he injured his triceps muscle in his pitching arm March 25 at Olympia and might not throw again this season according to Logue, South has allowed three runs or fewer in 17 of its 21 games.

“We’ve been hitting early and getting runs,” Johnston said. “Pitching with the lead — you feel unstoppable.”

While Logue said his team was happy with the win, they are not celebrating yet. That is because they have two seeding games Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m. against Kentwood at Kent Memorial, before they advance to regionals.

“They’re mature kids,” Logue said. “They want to do big things.”

South Kitsap 5, Emerald Ridge 1

Emerald Ridge            000      100      0          —         1          5          0

South Kitsap    031      100      x          —         5          5          1

Kyle Rossman, Chris Micheles, Kevin Rosin (2), Chad Gideon (6) and Nathan Horne. Josh Johnston, Michael Wood (6) and Tyler Pinkerton.

W-Johnston. L-Micheles.

Leading hitters-Landon Packard (ER) 1-2 BB 2B RBI, Chad Martinson (ER) 1-2 BB, Cody Wolfe (SK) 0-1 3 BB, Alek Morrison (SK) 1-3 RBI, Kevin Whatley (SK) 1-4 2 RBI, Tyler Pinkerton (SK) 1-4 2B.

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