Baseball: Huge comeback falls short, now Wolves head to district

The regular season came to an end for the Coupeville baseball team last weekend with a pair of rugged losses.

The Wolves wiped away an 11-0 deficit only to lose 14-13 in the bottom of the seventh in a nonleague game at La Conner Friday, April 29, then fell 11-1 in the league finale at Lakewood Saturday, April 30.

Coupeville (2-15, 1-11) now faces a stretch of three loser-out games in the district tournament in hopes of advancing to the tri-district tournament. The Wolves open district at home Wednesday, May 4, at 4 p.m. with Nooksack Valley (1-15, 1-11). Coupeville defeated the Pioneers 10-0 behind Alex McClain's no hitter March 19.

If the Wolves win Wednesday, they will advance with Meridian, Lynden Christian and Friday Harbor to Saturday's play at Blaine's Pipeline Fields at 11 a.m. to determine the Northwest District's two representatives at tri-district.

La Conner scored 11 runs in the first inning, but Coupeville narrowed the gap to 12-10 heading into the sixth. The comeback was fueled by 12 hits, highlighted by doubles by Ben Etzell and Jake Tumblin.

Coach Willie Smith said, "It was great to see the boys re-focus and hit and play like they've been capable of doing."

The Wolves trailed 13-10 going into the seventh. After an out, Tumblin walked, Morgan Payne singled and Etzell walked to load the bases. Tumblin scored on a passed ball and Payne scored on a ground out by Ian Smith. Zach McCormick singled to plate Etzell and knot the game at 13.

Coach Smith said, "Although we ended up losing in the bottom of the seventh, it was the kind of game that I've been waiting to have all year: dealing with adversity and overcoming it."

The Wolves got a strong relief effort from Wade Schaef who entered in the first inning and kept "LaConner in check and giving us a chance," according to Smith.

McCormick paced the strong offensive effort, going 3-for-3 with two RBI. Payne was 3-for-4 with a double, Tumblin was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, Etzell was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, and Drew Chan and Kurtis Smith were 2-for-3.

Coupeville also stole seven bases and played errorless ball after the first inning.

There would be no Coupeville comeback in the Lakewood game.

The Wolves went up 1-0 in the first inning. Ian Smith singled, moved to second on a bunt by Etzell, advanced to third on a hit by Payne and scored on a squeeze bunt by Alex McClain.

Coach Smith said, "After that, we were unable to score, although I felt like we had some good at bats but just hit balls at them."

The Cougars (11-7, 10-6) wasted little time taking control with five runs in their half of the first.

Smith said, "McClain settled in after the first inning and really mixed it up well and, for the most part, kept them off-balance. They are a very good hitting team and hit some good pitches."

Payne led the Coupeville offense by going 2-for-3.

Smith said, "Heading into Wednesday's playoff game with Nooksack Valley, I feel like we have played some very strong baseball the past two games. Our pitching in the South Whidbey series with Ian and Ben was phenomenal, so I feel pretty confident about our chances."

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