Baseball: Offense stagnates as South Kitsap's season ends

Five might be the most significant number for South Kitsap’s baseball team.

The Wolves entered Saturday’s West Central District Tournament loser-out game against Emerald Ridge with a 13-2 record when they score at least five runs.

But for the second time this year, South failed to accomplish that against the Jaguars and lost 5-2 at Kent Memorial. The loss means the Wolves, who finished with a 13-10 record, will not advance to state for a third consecutive year.

South did not send more than four batters in an inning to face Emerald Ridge right-hander Bryan Burgher until the sixth. The Jaguars, who won the previous game between the schools 8-4 on March 18, had a 5-0 lead by that point.

“He’s throwing the ball away from us and hard and all of our batting practice was throwing the ball away from us and hard,” South coach Jim Fairweather said. “I’m not sure why it didn’t work out better.”

Emerald Ridge, which finished 16-9 after being eliminated with a 7-1 loss later in the day against Central Kitsap, scored one run in the second inning when center fielder Collin Slaybaugh was hit on a 3-2 count by right-hander Gordy Anderson with the bases loaded. But the Jaguars could not add more as a bunt attempt by shortstop Garrett Anderson quickly was retrieved by the pitcher, who threw him out at first base to end the inning.

That score did not deviate until the sixth inning when designated hitter Tyler Simmons hit a one-out double to left-center field and right fielder Alex Hardy followed with an RBI single off Anderson.

Fairweather decided to replace Anderson, who had thrown 53 of 87 pitches for strikes, with reliever Riley Voshell. But Voshell surrendered four consecutive hits that allowed three runs to score before Fairweather replaced him with Austin Cook. He was able to induce Anderson into a ground out to end the inning.

“Gordy was OK, but wasn’t super sharp,” Fairweather said. “We thought with the way Riley’s throwing the ball, he will come in and get that last out and we’ll be right in business.”

The Wolves, who finished winless in eight games when they scored less than five runs, did not threaten Burgher until the bottom half of that inning. Second baseman Tanner Romo, who finished 2 for 4, led off with a double and shortstop Vince Sablan followed with a walk. Burgher then retired consecutive batters before third baseman Mitch Cartwright hit a hard single into center field to score Romo.

South again began the seventh strong when designated hitter Swey Dean connected with a 3-2 pitch from Burgher and deposited it beyond the 358-foot sign in center field. But Burgher responded by getting out a pair of pinch-hitters — Zach Reyes and Alex Sablan — before Romo beat out a ground ball to third base. Then Burgher, who threw 58 of 101 pitches for strikes, was able to get Vince Sablan to ground out to end the game.

“He was throwing a lot of fastballs and we needed to jump on it,” Romo said. “We usually hit the crap out of the ball.”

Fairweather, whose team lost its first five games this year, hopes the game can serve as a learning experience. Among the nine starters against the Jaguars, only four graduate.

“Lesser teams would’ve rolled over at 0-5,” Fairweather said. “They’ve worked really hard, never gave up and always were positive. This is the best group of kids I’ve ever been with. It does make you feel kind of excited about what’s coming back. I hope the sting of this makes them a little more hungry.”

West Central District Tournament

Saturday at Kent Memorial

Emerald Ridge 5, South Kitsap 2

Emerald Ridge 010 004 0 — 5 8 1

South Kitsap 000 001 1 — 2 7 0

Bryan Burgher and Steven Blume. Gordy Anderson, Riley Voshell (6), Austin Cook (6) and Michael Nelson.

W: Burgher. L: Anderson.

Leading hitters: Tyler Simmons (ER) 2-4 2B; Swey Dean (SK) 3-3 HR RBI; Tanner Romo (SK) 2-4 2B; Mitch Cartwright (SK) 2-3 RBI.

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