South Kitsap has an acclaimed theater department, but even those students would have been impressed with the amount of drama that unfolded on the school’s fastpitch field.
That is where Bellarmine Prep outlasted the Wolves, 8-7, in a Class 4A Narrows League contest that was marred by multiple delays and ejections.
The final one came during the sixth inning when South pitcher Statia Cermak hit a line drive off the glove third baseman Celine Woo. Home-plate umpire Dirk Wiebusch declared it a foul ball. Wiebusch then ejected a fan who allegedly said it was a “bad call” and then halted the game.
“He was suspending the game until we had an athletic director — or somebody in a power position — come down to talk to the fans,” South coach Mindi Outhwaite said.
South administrator Freda Evans warned fans that any further comments directed toward the officials could result in a forfeit.
After play resumed, Cermak stepped back in to draw a two-out walk. She and right fielder Shelby Reyes, who led off the inning with a single, then scored during the ensuing at-bat when Sophia Canton doubled to center field to tie the game, 6-all.
But the controversy did not end there.
Catcher Meg Sullivan led off the seventh inning with a single and advanced to second base on a sacrifice by McKenzie Schwan. Sullivan scored the go-ahead run during the next at-bat on a single down the third-base line by right fielder Charlotte James. Outhwaite felt it was the second call in as many innings by Wiebusch that hurt her team.
“There was a ball that was fair that was called foul and then there was a ball that was clearly foul that was called fair,” she said. “We didn’t get the calls our way.”
After a groundout by center fielder Maddie Potter, the Lions added another run on a single from Woo.
Freshman starter Chelsea Smith, who finished with eight strikeouts, then appeared to secure the game with two quick outs. But freshman Rae Seil, who finished 2 for 3, responded with a double.
“She’s a junior-varsity girl we brought up,” Outhwaite said. “She’s been with us for three games now and she’s a hitter.”
Reyes then singled to score Seil to reduce the Wolves’ deficit to 8-7.
“That’s pretty typical of this team this year,” Outhwaite said. “We like that seventh inning. They’re fighters.”
But the rally fell short when Smith struck out third baseman Dee DeWalt looking to end the game.
The result took on greater significance because it dropped South (6-8 overall, 5-7 league) into a tie with Bellarmine (6-12, 5-7). The Wolves still cannot finish worse than sixth in 4A Narrows, which means they will qualify for next week’s league tournament. But that means they could be forced to play some of the league’s top teams, including undefeated Olympia, in order to advance to the 4A West Central District Tournament.
“We were pumped up for this game,” said Outhwaite, when asked about the umpire’s impact. “We were ready. It’s too bad.”
First-year Bellarmine coach John McMasters, a former minor-league umpire, also ran into issues with Wiebusch, who ejected him during the second inning.
“I don’t think what I did warranted being ejected, but I followed the rules and I left,” McMasters said. “As you saw as the game progressed, it wasn’t just me — it was the other team, as well.”
McMasters acknowledged that he used “a cuss word” and was warned by Wiebusch after it was ruled that second baseman Becca Sorenson did not apply a tag on Mariah Grice during a fielder’s choice in the first inning. The Lions scored a pair of runs in the top half of the inning behind singles from Sorenson and shortstop Alyssa McKiernan.
The first four Wolves reached safely during the bottom half of the inning. Cermak scored on the fielder’s choice and Seil later followed with a three-run double.
McMasters, who was restricted to the dugout at that point, was able to see his team regain the lead before he left, though. Smith hit the first pitch from Cermak over the center-field fence for a three-run homer that gave the Lions a 5-4 advantage for much of the contest.
“What a performance by my freshman Chelsea Smith,” McMasters said. “She threw a complete game against a quality opponent and the home run was so big.”
It was the last run he would see as he was thrown out midway through the second inning.
“Apparently, stepping onto the field there to let other people pass is breaking that rule and I was ejected from the game,” McMasters said. “I didn’t realize that restricted to the dugout meant that I literally can’t step onto the dirt. Had I known that I would’ve stayed in the dugout. I’m here to follow the rules.”
Through assistant coach Allison Scanlin, McMasters appealed the ejection, which carries an automatic one-game suspension. If he is unsuccessful through a hearing process, McMasters will sit out the Lions’ regular-season finale May 8 against Wilson.
Both coaches praised the performance of their players through the conditions.
“It was a big win for us and I’m really impressed with how they battled adversity,” McMasters said. “It’s tough to do sometimes.”
• Outhwaite said senior catcher Drew Camacho’s season is over after she suffered torn meniscus in her right knee last week. Camacho, a three-year starter for the Wolves, signed in February to play at Shoreline Community College next season. She has been replaced by sophomore Angel Prewitt.
Bellarmine Prep 8, at South Kitsap 7
Bellarmine Prep 230 001 2 – 8 8 2
South Kitsap 400 002 1 – 7 6 4
Chelsea Smith and McKenzie Schwan. Statia Cermak and Angel Prewitt.
Leading hitters-Smith (BP) 2-4 HBP run HR 3 RBI, Celine Woo (BP) 2-3 BB RBI, Rae Seil (SK) 2-3 2 2B run 3 RBI, Shelby Reyes (SK) 2-4 run RBI.