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'Cats hand Pirates first loss
A regular season district title escaped the grasp of the Oak Harbor Junior Legion A baseball team on its home field Saturday, but it did accomplish a feat no other league team had this season.
The Wildcats (9-3) handed Friday Harbor (13-1) its only league loss of the summer, 11-1, in the first game of a doubleheader. A 10-0 victory by the Pirates in game two, however, assured Friday Harbor first place in league and a number one seed going into this weekends district tournament.
The game two loss wasnt all that distressing to Oak Harbor manager Mark Naymik.
We rested the starters the rest of the day for the remaining games and districts, he said. The strategy for us was not to show all our cards to them so when we meet them again later.
The Wildcats game-one success was keyed by starting pitcher Bennett Richter. He shut down the number one offense in the league, allowing just three hits in a complete six-inning victory. The only Pirate run came in the first inning after two consecutive hits and an RBI ground out.
A quick visit to the mound by coach John Encinas seemed to calm Richter after he allowed the two early hits.
He told him to work on location with his fastball emphasizing the outer half of the plate, also to throw more off-speed stuff to keep them off balance, Naymik said.
The plan worked to perfection.
Richter forced Friday Harbor into 12 ground ball outs and only allowed one more hit the rest of the game.
On the other side of the ball, Oak Harbor got its offense rolling early.
The Wildcats scored six runs in the first inning behind four base hits, three walks and two errors.
Ben Wolfe and Jared Murdy recorded RBI singles, while Josh Fikse and Kyle Wilcox had RBI bases-loaded walks. Wilcox, who had two at bats in the inning, also stole home for a run.
Oak Harbor kept pouring it on, scoring at least one run in five of six innings.
Wilcox was 2-for-4 on the day with two walks and three runs scored. Zach Hauser batted 3-for-6, with two runs and two RBI and Murdy was also 3-for-6 with two RBI.
Oak Harbor faced Sedro-Woolley (9-2) Monday and Tuesday in a battle for a second seed in District 2. Results were not available before press time.
Regardless of their seeding, Naymik sees good things on the horizon for his team in the district tournament.
This team has a real chance at a state championship berth if we take one or two, he said. I wont be surprised in the least, actually I am expecting it.
Oak Harbor Junior Legion AA won two of five games and got fourth place in the Don Daniels Wood Bat Tournament in Anacortes over the weekend.
The Wildcats lost their first three games to teams from higher divisions, falling 9-0 to Laces Academy (Everett), 1-0 to the North Seattle Shockers and 5-2 to Olympia Pepsi.
OH bounced back with consecutive wins over the Anacortes Legion A team, 9-0 and 12-1.
The Wildcats followed that up with a 15-5 non-league win over Lake Stevens on Monday.
Oak Harbor is now 18-14 overall and 6-6 in league. The team plays its final two regular season games against Ferndale (4-8) in a home doubleheader at 6 p.m., tonight, July 12. With virtually every team in the league still in the district playoff hunt, Oak Harbor needs to take at least one, if not two games in order to grab the fifth and final playoff berth.