BASEBALL | Wolves on the verge of league perfection

Sophomore infielder Austin Hackman, who served as a courtesy runner, was among four South Kitsap players that crossed home plate during the sixth inning of Monday’s 6-0 Class 4A Narrows League win at Yelm. - Jeff Rhodes Photo
Sophomore infielder Austin Hackman, who served as a courtesy runner, was among four South Kitsap players that crossed home plate during the sixth inning of Monday’s 6-0 Class 4A Narrows League win at Yelm.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes Photo

YELM — South Kitsap is one win away from clinching its first perfect league record since 2000.

The Wolves put themselves in that position with a 6-0 win Monday afternoon in a Class 4A Narrows League baseball contest at Yelm.

South (14-4 overall, 11-0 league), which last week clinched its first Narrows championship since 2009, now must defeat Stadium at 3:45 p.m. Friday at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma to finish with an unblemished league mark.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” said South coach Marcus Logue when asked about the possibility. “It’s an attribute to all of their hard work and focus.”

The Wolves won their previous game against Stadium, 3-0, on April 9. Senior Tyler Ludlow said he and his teammates are excited about the possibility after losing four league contests and finishing second in 4A Narrows during their state runner-up season a year ago.

“I’ve definitely thought about it because it’s the last game of the year,” Ludlow said. “I’m excited for that. It would be awesome. We want to dominate our league and show people what we’re made of.”

Ludlow helped keep South in that position when he launched a 3-2 fastball from right-handed starter Justin Polzin over the left-center field fence with two outs in the third inning to give Wolves a 1-0 lead.

“I was just staying relaxed and doing what coach told me to do,” said Ludlow, who has five home runs. “I go up there with the mentality that I learned from coach Logue that he’s not going to beat me and I’m a better hitter than he is pitcher. That’s exactly what happened.”

It was all of the support junior right-hander Mac McCarty received until the sixth inning. He twice escaped situations in the third and fifth innings where the Tornados (8-11, 3-9) had a pair of runners on base. In both circumstances, McCarty induced hitters into grounders to end the threat.

McCarty, who allowed four hits, threw 58 of 82 pitches for strikes.

“He worked ahead in counts and kept things simple,” Logue said. “He did a nice job with his fastball and was able to mix it up with his breaking ball to keep guys off balance.”

Polzin also did that to South until the sixth inning. Senior catcher Tyler Pinkerton hit a one-out double that scored Ludlow, who reached when he was hit by a pitch. Senior right fielder Tanner Paulson then followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Pinkerton.

Sophomore second baseman Hudson Kimple followed with a walk and sophomore third baseman Hunter Riley singled during the ensuing at-bat to chase Polzin from the game with Yelm trailing 3-0.

It only became worse for the Tornados from that point.

Right-handed reliever Garrett Freise walked junior shortstop Cooper Canton to load the bases and then did the same to senior left fielder Conner Sharp to score Kimple. Riley also scored when Freise walked pinch-hitter Jack Oswood to extend the Wolves’ lead to 5-0. Left-hander Indigo Keesler, who replaced Freise, induced McCarty into a groundout to end the inning where 10 hitters stepped up to the plate.

South added its final run in the seventh inning when Pinkerton, who went 2 for 4, hit his second double off the left-center field fence. Two batters later, Pinkerton scored when senior pinch-hitter Kody Wilson singled to center field.

While most of that production came against relievers, Ludlow said he is not concerned about the ability of his teammates to hit higher-caliber pitching as the playoffs approach.

“I know that our team can hit the better pitching because I’ve played with them most of my life,” said Ludlow, who went 2 for 3.

But Logue, whose team has scored just five runs in their four losses this season, wants his team to focus on fundamentals with the playoffs approaching.

“That’s where we maybe have to do the little things,” he said. “Execute, get a guy on base, get a walk here and there and bunt. Play a little small ball. We didn’t necessarily to do that as much last year because of the bats we had.”

South Kitsap 6, at Yelm 0

South Kitsap   001      004      1          -           6          8          0

Yelm               000      000      0          -           0          4          0

Mac McCarty and Tyler Pinkerton. Justin Polzin, Garrett Freise (6), Indigo Keesler (6) and Daylen Mathews.

W-McCarty. L-Polzin.

Leading hitters-Tyler Ludlow (SK) 2-3 HBP 2B HR RBI 2 runs, Tyler Pinkerton (SK) 2-4 2 2B RBI 2 runs, Randy Reynolds (Y) 2-2, Brandon Thompson (Y) 2-2.

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