SK pitchers dominate in win; playoffs within reach

The production off the bats of the South Kitsap Wolves proved to be more than enough for pitchers Konor Tupuola and Payton Moritz April 19 as they held the Curtis Vikings to just a pair of first-inning runs in a 6-2 victory in Port Orchard.

Those two runs, courtesy of a Joe Giles RBI single and Harlan Carrillo’s sacrifice fly with the bases loaded, could have amounted to much more against the starting Tupuola. Dancing across the baseball equivalent of a tightrope, he closed out the first inning with a strikeout.

He would escape similar jams twice more, stranding the bases loaded on a flyout and subsequent double play in the second and leaving runners on second and third base on a pair of flyouts and an inning-ending strikeout later on.

“Dude battled his butt off,” coach Nick Kenyon said. “He gave up some runs early but got out of some huge situations. He’s been battling like that all year.”

The Wolves made it onto the scoreboard on an RBI groundout from Carson Puryear in the bottom of the first.

With the score 2-1 in the bottom half of the third, a leadoff walk by Koichi Castro set the stage for Thomas Frei. A wild throw to first base kept Frei sprinting around the bag, the sequence ending with Castro scoring and Frei reaching third. He crossed home plate on a Mason Gooding double.

The remaining runs were scored in the bottom of the fourth, Puryear adding a two RBI single, and Santiago Herrera contributing an RBI single.

The Wolves had little to worry about from the fourth inning onward as Moritz all but shut down the Vikings in four innings of relief, allowing just three baserunners and at one point retiring nine straight batters.

“He’s been working really hard, and that’s just a huge outing for him,” Kenyon said. “For him to come in and do that, that’s amazing.”

In what began as a season of many unknowns, South Kitsap’s club has already taken strides bigger than a typical rebuilding year. Kenyon’s longtime coaching presence in the dugout with 19 years as an assistant, combined with the athleticism and competitive spirit of his players, have led the Wolves to an 8-7 league record.

The latest victory concluded a three-game sweep in a weeklong homestand that has boosted the team’s chances of a district postseason berth in May.

The hype could be real for SK baseball again, yet even now, Kenyon’s first season as the head man continues to be defined by an ancient piece of baseball philosophy: one game at a time.

“I don’t want to look that far ahead,” he said of the postseason. “I just work day to day, game to game, taking care of each task one day at a time. (Playoffs) isn’t really in our vocabulary yet.”

A swing from Carson Puryear leads to a double that plates two baserunners in the fourth inning.

A swing from Carson Puryear leads to a double that plates two baserunners in the fourth inning.