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Error-plagued SK sees season end
Consistency hasn't exactly been a strong feature for South Kitsap's baseball team.
After playing perhaps its best games in last week's West Central District Tournament, the Wolves had their poorest defensive showing of the season in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament Saturday at Tacoma's Heidelberg Park.
And that wasn't enough to keep its season going as South lost 7-1 against Issaquah. The Wolves committed a season-high seven errors — many on routine sacrifice plays.
"We go from last weekend being lights out on defense to today we can't field a bunt and throw them out at first," South coach Jim Fairweather said. "I don't understand. And I tell you, we did a whole bunch of that this week (in practice)."
South's struggles began almost immediately when Brennan Miller led off the game with a walk against Ricky Johnson. The Eagles (14-11) generally are a team that sacrifices runners along under longtime coach Rob Reese, and did that with No. 2 hitter Dustin Talley. But the Wolves' third baseman couldn't handle the play and both runners were safe.
Issaquah then scored its first run when Spencer Rogers hit a ground ball that was misplayed by the second baseman to score Miller. Miles Perkins followed with a double to center field to bring home Talley and give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
While South struggled, the Eagles were proficient in most aspects of the game. Issaquah, which won three 3A championships since 2000 before moving to KingCo 4A, committed one error. Right-handed starter Shane Yarnell threw all 11 of his first-inning pitches for strikes and 76 of 116 overall. He finished with 11 strikeouts.
"I really didn't think we would be throwing it all over this diamond," Fairweather said. "I thought our defense would carry the day and we would eventually solve this guy (Yarnell)."
The Eagles also scored in every inning the lead-off hitter reached base. Devin O'Donnell accomplished that with a walk in the second inning and moved to third on a fielder's choice and an error in the next two at-bats. He then scored on an single to right field by Miller.
They extended their lead to 4-0 in the third when Marcus Gaan reached on a throwing error by the pitcher. With Gaan at first base and Perkins, who began the inning with a single, on second, Michael Dixon tried to advance the runners on a sacrifice. But first baseman Scott McGallian fielded the bunt and threw out Perkins at third base.
O'Donnell followed with a single, but the left fielder bobbled the ball which allowed Gaan to score.
The Wolves (15-6) had perhaps their best opportunity in the sixth inning. Brady Steiger singled and Johnson later walked with two outs. Pinch-hitter Swey Dean then hit a double down the first-base line to score Steiger and cut South's deficit to 4-1. Another pinch-hitter, Brad Fairweather, followed, and drew a 3-0 count before Yarnell came back to strike him out and end the inning.
Issaquah essentially ended the Wolves' comeback hopes in the bottom half of the inning. Michael Paulson drew a lead-off walk and Gavin Schumaker followed with an infield single. Miller then attempted a sacrifice that was misplayed by the pitcher and allowed Paulson to score.
The Eagles added another run during the ensuing at-bat when a ball hit by Talley was bobbled by the shortstop to score Schumaker. Issaquah's third run came on a single to right field by Rogers that scored Miller.
With the Wolves trailing by six runs, Fairweather replaced Johnson with Collin Monagle, who retired the final two hitters.
But South couldn't score in the seventh as Yarnell retired three straight hitters after a single by Mitch Cartwright.
It actually was the closest state game the Wolves have played under Fairweather, who has guided them to the tournament in three of his six seasons. They won 21-2 against Puyallup in 2006, but have lost their previous two state games by 39 runs combined.
"It's definitely not a satisfying game," said Steiger, whose team lost 23-2 against Bothell in last year's state playoffs. "We definitely didn't play up to our potential. It was a bad day."
At Tacoma's Heidelberg Park
Issaquah 7, South Kitsap 1
South Kitsap 000 001 0 — 1 5 7
Issaquah 211 003 x — 7 5 1
Ricky Johnson, Collin Monagle (6) and Gordy Anderson, Gavin Fazio (6); Shane Yarnell and Devin O'Donnell.
Leading hitters: Mitch Cartwright (SK) 2-3; Swey Dean (SK) 1-1 2B RBI; Miles Perkins (I) 2-4 2B RBI; Spencer Rogers (I) 1-3 SB 2 RBI; Brennan Miller (I) 1-3 2 runs RBI.