EAST BREMERTON — Baseball is a funny game. A single play has the potential to alter the outcome of any given match in a split-second. When Kingston High School baseball took on Olympic, a team with twice as many wins as the Bucs, that play — a bases-loaded error — came in the fourth inning.
Down by one, Kingston sophomore Jack Hermanson walked, junior Tyler Bates was hit by a pitch and senior Gage Updegrove walked to load with bases with one out. Senior Ethan Sax stepped up to the plate with an opportunity to blow this game open.
He hit a ground ball to shortstop that was sure to bring in the tying run if he could beat out a double play, but as it turns out, he didn’t have to. Trojans senior infielder Evan Turnquist’s gloved the ball and tossed it over the second baseman’s head, into the outfield.
Before the season, Olympic head coach Nate Andrews said the Buccaneers could surprise some people this year, and they’re beginning to live up to that prediction.
“I saw the competitive attitude that we’ve been trying for, for several years now at Kingston,” Bucs head coach Abe Lupkin said. “It’s a blast because I don’t know what’s going to happen. They’re extremely aggressive and it makes the game a lot of fun for everybody.”
That one play helped guide Kingston to a 7-4 road victory over the Trojans. A statement win in a competitive conference, proving that it doesn’t matter if you’re playing a team with a better record. Anything can happen.
“We just definitely threw the ball around a bit,” Andrews said. “And no reason to. It [wasn’t] wet, it wasn’t bad conditions. We just [have] to make those plays.”
It wasn’t a clean game by any standard with both teams combining for six errors in the field, but for Kingston, a win is a win no matter which way you look at it. For Olympic, the errors make this loss sting a little more.
Senior Keaton Dean took the mound for the Trojans but struggled with his control early on, walking Updegrove in the top of the first. A sacrifice bunt, single and an error allowed Updegrove to touch home plate for the first score of the contest.
“Where we made our biggest mistakes was giving up walks and making mistakes in the field,” Olympic head coach Nate Andrews said. “We scored enough runs to win the game, but sometimes you [have] to tip your cap and say ‘good job’ to the other team for winning.”
Dean later hit Kingston junior designated hitter Trevor Lang on the helmet. He did not appear to be hurt so he stayed in the game, but Lang was stranded on base.
The top of the second started much like the first — with a leadoff walk, this time to Buccaneers sophomore infielder Andrew Ives. Olympic caught a break when the following batter missed a bunt. Ives anticipated the bat would make contact with the ball as he took one too many sidesteps toward second base. Trojans catcher Kylen Pereira quickly tossed a bullet to first, picking Ives off to end the base running threat.
Updegrove reached base again in the top of the third, this time by way of a double down the left field line. Sax immediately drove in his teammate with a double of his own.
“[Updegrove] is in his third year as a varsity starter — he would have been a four-year, but he broke his leg his freshman year,” Lupkin said. “The kid is a playmaker and he’s one of those where he’s green-lighted until I tell him to stop. And I won’t tell him to stop unless the score’s out of hand.”
Taking the hill for Kingston was Tim Melzor and, although the first batter he saw was retired on an impressive shoestring catch by Zachary Gardner, the second batter he saw reached second with a double as Gardner lost the ball in the sun and it landed about 10 feet away from him.
No Trojans scored in the first or third innings, but Olympic scratched across three runs in the second. Trojans junior outfielder Dylan Heino singled to right field and reached second when the ball skipped by Gardner. One miscue followed the other as two more Olympic hitters came home to take its first and only lead of the game.
“[Melzor] is in his third year as a starting pitcher, and he’s only a junior,” Lupkin said. “The kid knows how to throw … When he’s on the mound, I let him pitch his game, he knows what he’s doing.”
Olympic still remains in second place behind North Kitsap in the league standing, but the gap between the top two teams widened with Kingston and Port Angeles making up ground.
— Jacob Moore is a reporter for Kitsap Daily News. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @JMooreKDN.