Sports

Another win bites the dust

The roster is virtually identical to last season.

Competition around the league changed little, if any.

But there is one glaring difference for the Coupeville baseball team in 2006 — it hasn’t won the close contests.

“Last year we won almost every close game we played, this year we’re just not getting over the hump,” said CHS coach Willie Smith, referring to his team’s 12-7 record in 2005.

The Wolves, who are currently 2-6, experienced continued heartbreak Friday evening in a 5-3 extra-inning loss to league foe La Conner. It was the second straight home defeat CHS suffered to a league opponent after carrying a lead late into a contest.

“We had three plays in the last three innings that were routine plays that we just didn’t make and it led to runs,” Smith said.

The most crucial of those mistakes occurred with the game tied 3-3 in the top of the eighth. After retiring the first batter on a ground out, CHS had the second out in its sights. Sophomore shortstop James Smith fielded a ground ball and made a clean toss to first base. The ball was dropped, however, by first baseman Tony Prosser and not picked up quickly enough to record an out. The ensuing batter struck out, but the Braves’ Chris Pierson took advantage of his team’s extra opportunity. The number eight hitter stepped to the plate and on a 1-1 count, drilled a fastball over the left field fence for a two-run home run and a 5-3 lead the Braves never relinquished.

Coupeville’s two other costly errors occurred in the sixth inning when it was up 3-1. The Wolves had one runner caught in a pickle between first and second, but dropped the ball. That runner eventually came around to score. CHS then missed an opportunity to turn a double play when sophomore second baseman Kyle Wilcox miscounted the number of outs and allowed the tying run to score on a ground out.

“If we make those three plays we win the game,” Smith said. “Right now, it’s just a mental thing for some of the kids.”

Coupeville had success early with the bats, ripping seven hits in the first five innings. Wilcox and James Smith, who led the Wolves with two hits apiece, recorded RBI singles in the second inning for a 2-1 lead. Senior Mike Bagby put the Wolves up 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI ground out.

CHS starter Alex Evans pitched an impressive game, giving up just two earned runs on six hits and seven strikeouts over six innings. Junior reliever Cory Black allowed just one hit, the home run, over the final two innings.

At 1-2 in league and 2-6 overall Smith knows his team has little room for error if they want to reach their post-season goal.

“We can’t continue to do this,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to start winning games.”

CHS was on the road yesterday to face first-place Friday Harbor. The Wolves travel to Darrington at 4 p.m., today, April 12 for a remake of a March 24 rain cancellation.

La Conner 010 002 02 — 5 7 1

Coupeville 020 100 00 — 3 9 4

Staubach, Oosterhof (5) and Coonc. Evans, Black (7) and Larson. WP-Oosterhof. LP-Black (0-2).

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