North baseballers nab Narrows League Championship

POULSBO — Tyler Sullivan’s face said it all. After striking out Wilson’s Derek Shirey with a fastball to end the game, he hurled his glove into the air and made a beeline for his coach. The smiling Sullivan leapt into Vikings coach Jeff Weible’s arms near the dugout after North’s 5-4 comeback victory over Wilson Tuesday night in Poulsbo.

POULSBO — Tyler Sullivan’s face said it all. After striking out Wilson’s Derek Shirey with a fastball to end the game, he hurled his glove into the air and made a beeline for his coach.

The smiling Sullivan leapt into Vikings coach Jeff Weible’s arms near the dugout after North’s 5-4 comeback victory over Wilson Tuesday night in Poulsbo.

The Vikings’ 15th win of the year gave them a share of the Narrows League title. North and Central Kitsap finished the regular season with identical 15-5 records. The Vikings will play Central Kitsap at 6 p.m. today at Heidelberg Field in Tacoma with the winner receiving the top seed in the West Central District Tournament.

“We’re league champions,” an ecstatic Weible said. “We showed some heart tonight. We wanted it more than Wilson did today. Our team displayed its intestinal fortitude.”

After jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning, the Vikings surrendered four runs in the fourth and fifth innings falling behind 4-3.

The Vikings needed a rally, and they got one.

In the bottom of the sixth, Jesse Cummings got the Vikings started, singling up the middle off of Wilson pitcher PD Williams. Joe Benish drew a walk putting runners on first and second. After a Kramer Uvila fly out out, Reuben Smith stepped up to the plate. Smith connected on a routine ground ball that appeared to be an easy double play for Wilson second baseman Nyef Mohammed. Fortunately for North, Mohammed misread the ball committing a costly error that doomed Wilson. Pinch runner Derek Goodall (inserted into the lineup for Cummings) scored on the play, tying the contest at 4-4. The Vikings captured the lead for good when Jordan Tucker ripped a single up the middle, scoring pinch runner Taylor Zehrung from second (inserted into the lineup for Benish) giving the Vikings a 5-4 lead.

In the top of the seventh, the Vikings showed their ability to perform in the face of adversity. With one out and a runner on second, Wilson right-fielder Ryan Linden ripped a high fly ball just out of the reach of diving North left fielder Jeff Jones. Centerfielder Andy Smith fired the ball to his cutoff man, shortstop Reuben Smith with Wilson runner Kyle Mazzuca heading toward the plate. Mazzuca made the mistake of hesitating between third base and home. Smith recognized Mazzuca’s miscue and began sprinting toward the runner and then fired the ball to catcher Benish who was able to tag out Mazzuca for the second out of the inning.

Smith said he knew he had to make something happen when he received the ball from the outfield.

“When I got the ball I heard everyone saying different things. I heard throw it to four, throw it to two, and run it in,” Smith said. “I got the ball and decided to run it in as fast as I could. I threw it to Joe (Benish) and he tagged out the runner.”

The second out of the inning was probably one of the most important plays of the contest.

“Reuben did a great job of cutting the runner off,” Weible said. “It was a big play in the game.”

Sullivan then struck out Shirey to end the game, picking up his third win of the season for North.

“It feels really good to help the team as a sophomore,” Sullivan said. “We haven’t won a league championship in a long time.”

He finished with five strikeouts in three innings of work.

“He didn’t have much left in his tank after pitching on Saturday,” Weible said. “He came in and did what we needed him to do. He throws strikes and throws hard. We needed him today, and he did it for us.”

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