PORT ORCHARD — South Kitsap is entering a critical stretch of games in a South Puget Sound League that is jam-packed at the top of the standings.
Monday’s game against Emerald Ridge may be one that got away. The Wolves had a runner on third with less than two outs in three different innings and failed to drive him in. Those missed opportunities proved to be the difference in a 3-2 loss at Elton Goodwin Field.
Entering the day, South Kitsap and four other teams — Emerald Ridge, Olympia, Puyallup and Curtis — were all at the top of the standings with just one loss. The Wolves host Olympia on Tuesday and play at Puyallup on Thursday.
“I told them, ‘This game is over,’” said head coach Marcus Logue. “‘We can’t change what happened today, tomorrow we have a big game against Olympia, so we have to flush it and move on.’ And I think this group understands that.”
South Kitsap had a golden opportunity in the seventh to tie and perhaps win the game, loading the bases with no outs after Jacob Duarte led off with a walk and P.J. Moritz followed with a single. The Emerald Ridge manager then signaled for Stratton Fazio, who was already 2 for 3 with a double, to be intentionally walked.
Blake Ballew hit a solid fly ball to right field that was caught for the first out. Duarte broke for the plate in hopes of tying the game, but he was tagged out on a close play thanks to a perfectly-placed throw.
Nathaniel Beers then came up and hit a long fly ball to dead center field where Wesley Robinson caught it running backwards and falling down just a few feet short of the 380 sign to end the game.
The Wolves wound up with 11 hits in the game, but only managed two runs.
“Obviously if that ball goes a couple more inches over the center fielder’s head, it might be a win for us,” Logue said. “But I think things happen for a reason. In losses, you learn a lot about yourself and your team.”
Tim Reidy and Moritz shared pitching duties, and held the Jaguars to just seven hits and three runs. The defense, though it made two errors, also turned a pair of double plays and helped its pitchers out of jams.
Jeriah Blake made two tough catches in deep left field on balls that threatened to clear the fence. Rylen Bayne also made a good heads up play at shortstop, fielding a tough grounder in the hole and chasing down an Emerald Ridge runner that had broken toward third base prematurely.
Limiting a talented Emerald Ridge to just three runs should have been an ideal outcome, but the Wolves were simply unable to capitalize on their offensive opportunities. They had runners on first and third with no one out in the second inning, left a runner stranded at third in the third inning, and had runners at second and third with two outs in the sixth.
“These tough lessons early on will hopefully pay dividends later in the season,” Logue said.
Emerald Ridge 3, South Kitsap 2
ER 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 — 3 7 3
SK 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 — 2 11 2
WP: Harris LP: Reidy
Emerald Ridge — Harris 7 IP, 11 H, 2 R, ER, 3 BB, 5 K.
South Kitsap — Reidy 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; Moritz 2.2 IP, 3 H, K.
Emerald Ridge — Heaton 2-3, RBI, BB, R; Hamel 2-3, RBI, R, SB; Stransky, 1-4, 2B; Nimmich 1-3, R, SB.
South Kitsap — Moritz 2-4, RBI; Fazio 2-3, 2B, BB; McKlosky 1-4, R; Canton 1-4, R; Duarte 1-3, BB; Beers 1-3, BB.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.