Baseball: Wolves secure second place in Bridge Division

South Kitsap’s Ricky Johnson scampers back to first just ahead of a pickoff attempt during the Wolves’ 8-1 victory over Wilson on Tuesday afternoon in Port Orchard.  - Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo
South Kitsap’s Ricky Johnson scampers back to first just ahead of a pickoff attempt during the Wolves’ 8-1 victory over Wilson on Tuesday afternoon in Port Orchard.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo

There was no secret about its significance.

After all, Tuesday’s regular-season Narrows League baseball finale between South Kitsap and Wilson determined which team would finish second in the Bridge Division.

And which team earned a much easier route to the West Central District playoffs.

It will be the Wolves, who won 8-1 against the Rams, and face a team they already have defeated at least once at 2 p.m. today at Heidelberg Park in the league playoffs.

A win today against whoever wins Wednesday and Thursday’s loser-out games — Foss, Stadium or Wilson — would place South into a 3 p.m. game Saturday against an undetermined opponent at Heidelberg with the winner earning the No. 3 seed into districts. The loser claims the fourth spot.

Meanwhile, the Rams must win two loser-out games to advance to districts.

“This gives us a great shot of getting into districts,” South coach Jim Fairweather said. “This is a huge win.”

Fairweather said his team was motivated after losing 6-4 on April 29 at Wilson. The Wolves (12-8 overall, 10-5 league) won their first game of a doubleheader that day, 11-1, at Mount Tahoma. But the loss against the Rams (8-9, 7-7) ended a six-game winning streak for South.

“We didn’t come out to play the first time,” Fairweather said. “We looked like ourselves at the beginning of the season.”

The rematch did not start out much better for the Wolves. They committed two errors in the first inning and nearly had another when the shortstop dropped a pop-up. But he was able to recover in time to throw out the lead runner before he reached second base. Despite that, leadoff hitter Eric Lund scored from third base on the play to give the Rams a 1-0 lead.

Neither team showed much early offense. While South starter Gordy Anderson threw five shutout innings after the first, his counterpart, Kurtis Longver, was just as effective through the first three frames. Right fielder Ricky Johnson scored South’s only run during that span off Longver in the second inning with a home run that easily cleared the left-field fence.

That changed during the fourth, though. The Wolves began to display their offensive prowess — they averaged 12.5 runs per game during their winning streak — and scored four runs during that inning. Center fielder D’Aundray Van Slyke produced most of those with a three-run homer to left field. It could have been a grand slam, but the runner at third base was picked off during the previous at-bat.

South extended its lead to 5-1 when second baseman Tanner Romo reached on an error by the third baseman. He scored during the ensuing at-bat when shortstop Vince Sablan singled down the third-base line.

The Wolves added three more runs during the following inning when third baseman Easton Sartor walked, Van Slyke was hit by a pitch and Romo singled to load the bases. Sartor scored on a fielder’s choice by Sablan, and Gordy Anderson followed with a walk that scored Van Slyke. Romo crossed home plate when first baseman Michael Nelson singled.

That was more than enough for Anderson, who allowed four hits in six innings. He also had seven strikeouts. Fairweather said his performance was even more impressive considering that Anderson recently had pinkeye and was not completely healthy.

“He located pitches and did a good job of getting people out,” he said. “That’s why he’s our ace.”

Stellar pitching has become a reoccurring theme for South, which has won 80 percent of its games since starting the year with an 0-5 record. The Wolves allowed at least eight runs in a game four times in their first five contests. They have not given up more than seven runs in a game since then.

“I’m very pleased,” Fairweather said. “I think they’re figuring it out. They seem to be maturing a lot.”

Van Slyke believes the team’s momentum will be beneficial as they enter the playoffs.

“Our energy is really high right now,” he said. “This is a pretty good group of guys we have and we’re looking to go far.”

At South Kitsap 8, Wilson 1

Wilson 100 000 0 — 1 4 3

South Kitsap 010 430 x — 8 9 4

Kurtis Longver, Dylan Sandoval (6) and Alex Tuman. Gordy Anderson, Riley Voshell (7) and Alex Sablan.

Leading hitters: Easton Sartor (SK) 2-3 BB 2 runs; Ricky Johnson (SK) 1-3 BB HR RBI run; Michael Nelson (SK) 2-3 RBI; Vince Sablan (SK) 2-4 2 RBI run; D’Aundray Van Slyke (SK) 1-2 HR 3 RBI.

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