Oak Harbor qualifies for state | Legion

Picking up a little revenge along the way, the Oak Harbor Legion baseball team earned a spot in the state tournament with a pair of wins this weekend at district at Mount Vernon's Sherman Anderson Field.

The Wildcats now challenge Snohomish Monday, July 25, at 1 p.m. for the district championship. Oak Harbor will need to defeat Snohomish twice to earn the district crown. The second game, if necessary, is slated for Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Regardless of the outcome, both teams will advance to state in Lacey July 30 to Aug. 3.

The Wildcats defeated Snohomish 5-4 and 14-7 in the first games of the summer May 31.

At district, Oak Harbor worked its way through the losers' bracket to earn the state berth.

After being upset in its opening game to seventh-seeded Burlington July 20, Oak Harbor, the No. 2 seed, received a bye in the next round then got another shot at the Sox Saturday, July 23.

After a shaky first inning, the Wildcats polished off Burlington 13-3 in five innings.

Sunday, Oak Harbor nipped No. 1 seed Bellingham 4-3 to set up the championship series with No. 3 seed Snohomish. Bellingham and Oak Harbor tied for the regular-season title with 12-2 marks, however Bellingham handed the 'Cats their only two league losses (8-4, 14-10) June 7.

In the 13-3 win over Burlington, the Sox scored three runs in the top of the first inning on two errors, four walks and no hits.

Zach Zimmer took over on the mound midway through the first inning and pitched one-hit ball the rest of the way.

While Zimmer quieted the Burlington bats, he and his teammates turned up the offensive pressure.

Oak Harbor scored three in the first to tie it. With one out, Ben Etzell singled, David Kusnick was hit by a pitch and Jack Richter walked to fill the bases. Zimmer singled in one run, another scored on a wild pitch and Austyn Walker singled in the third.

Oak Harbor took the lead with a run in the second. With two outs, Etzell singled, stole second and scored on a error off the bat of Kusnick.

A four-run third helped put the game away. Richter and Zimmer walked in front of a Walker double that produced one run. Andrew Snavely was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Mike Maletto's walk, Grant Schroeder's single and Etzell's groundout each plated runs.

The Wildcats scored five in the fifth to 10-run the Sox.

Maletto walked, Schroeder bunted for a base hit and Etzell walked. Kusnick singled in two, and an error on the play allowed a third to score. Richter singled, then Zimmer's fielder's choice scored a run. Walked doubled, then Snavely drove in the final run with a single.

In the semifinal win over Bellingham, Oak Harbor again got a stellar relief appearance from Zimmer, who followed a strong start by Richter.

The Wildcats jumped to a 4-0 lead with a pair of runs in the first and third innings.

In the top of the first, Schroeder reached on an infield hit and Etzell walked. Oak Harbor got a big break when Kusnick's bunt hit the cut of the grass in foul territory and kicked fair for a hit to load the bases with no outs.

Richter skied a fly to right for a sacrifice and run, then an error on Zimmer's grounder scored another.

In the third, Kusnick and Richter walked and moved up on a wild pitch. With two outs, Snavely's bloop hit scored one run, then a wild pitch accounted for the second.

That was it for the Oak Harbor offense. After Maletto walked to open the fourth, no other hitters reached base as 12 went down in order.

Starter Richter surrender one unearned run until the fourth when Bellingham scored two to make it 4-3.

After Bellingham opened the fifth with a walk, coach Tyson VanDam called on Zimmer again. Zimmer held Bellingham hitless and fanned five to nail down the win.

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