Cats rally to upend Snohomish

It might not have been pretty, but the Oak Harbor baseball team will take a win anyway that they can get it, especially one in which they were staring at a two-run deficit during their final at-bat.

The Wildcats knocked off Snohomish 6-5 in eight innings on Wednesday after trailing 5-3 entering the bottom of the seventh inning. The Cats used two Snohomish passed balls and two wild pitches by Panther pitcher Cody McAllister to score the tying and winning runs.

‘The win felt great. We had to get ourselves psyched up after yesterday,” said Oak Harbor centerfielder Chris Cardinal.

The day before, the Wildcats fell 13-1 to Monroe in five innings.

“Getting behind in games doesn’t seem to fluster these guys,” said Wildcats head coach Jim Waller. “They have the ability to come back and win a game after losing one. That’s a real strong point to this team.”

Dewayne Oxford picked up the win in relief of starter Ryan Johnson, coming in with two outs the sixth inning. Oxford was available for the Wednesday game after he didn’t make it out of the first inning of Oak Harbor’s loss to the Bearcats on Tuesday.

“I threw well today, a lot better than yesterday,” said Oxford after the game. “You have to take the good with the bad and put it all behind you. This was a new game.”

His coach agreed.

“He had an off-day the day before and it worked out well,” said Waller. “He was eligible to throw today and he pitched pretty good. I have a lot of confidence in him and I thought he could do the job.”

Oxford came into the contest with a runner on first base. After giving up an RBI triple, the senior right-hander settled down and pitched 2 and 1/3 scoreless innings to hold off the Panthers. A key play came in the sixth with men on first and third, when Oxford picked the Snohomish baserunner off first and the Cats got him caught in a rundown. Second baseman Mark VanOort made a diving tag and recorded the out before the Panther baserunner on third crossed home plate.

“That was a big play,” Oxford said. “Mark’s very athletic and he’s done that a couple of times this year. He made a big play in my no-hitter. That tag was crucial, it might have been the play of the game.”

After escaping that situation, Oxford worked two quick innings, getting the Snohomish batters to hit the ball to his fielders who made plays. The highlight was a beautifully turned 6-4-3 double play in the top of the seventh.

“I just wanted to make them hit the ball to my defense, and my fielders came through and got outs,” Oxford said. “The defense was able to get me out of a lot of key situations.”

That set the stage for the two-run rally in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. Leadoff man Aaron Gibbons got aboard, followed by Anthony Martinez who coaxed a full-count walk to put men on first and second. After a passed ball, Jon Goodwin picked up an RBI with a fielder’s choice, scoring Gibbons and moving Martinez to third. Cardinal was up-to bat next and the ball got by the catcher again, scoring Martinez and tying the game 5-5. The Snohomish pitcher appeared to be getting tired, but he stayed in the game.

“Yeah, he was tired,” said Cardinal. “Tired from throwing all those breaking balls.”

After a easy inning for Oxford, the Wildcats’ winning rally in the eighth began when John Gagnon got on base with a hit. Ray Mulanay then tried to bunt, but was walked instead, putting runners on first and second. A wild pitch by McAllister moved the runners into scoring position. With sophomore Adam Diaz pinch-running for Gagnon and James Medina pinch-hitting, Waller called for a suicide squeeze. The ball got away from the Snohomish catcher and Diaz scored but the umpire ruled it foul and the runners were sent back. The Panther pitcher then uncorked a wild throw and Diaz made it home for the winning run.

“It was a great call. It’s a shame that he didn’t get it in, but the passed ball worked,” said Cardinal after the game about the squeeze play. “We’ll take it.”

The Wildcats were in a position to tie the game in the final inning thanks in part to the pitching of the southpaw Johnson.

“Ryan pitched very well, by far his best game,” said Waller. “He has had a tendency to lose his composure, but he did a good job this time getting out of jams. His play was probably the biggest reason why we won the game.”

The win was crucial for Oak Harbor’s playoff chances, coming after the loss to Monroe the day before. With most of the Wesco teams bunched together except for front-runner Mount Vernon, it’s going to be a dogfight for the final three playoff spots. The Wildcats had a chance to sweep the season series against the Panthers, playing them in Snohomish yesterday (results will be published in Wednesday’s edition of the News-Times).

“Everybody’s been beating each other up,” said Waller. “And even Mount Vernon’s been having some close games. It would be nice to get two in a row against the same team.”

Oak Harbor 6, Snohomish 5

At Oak Harbor H.S.

Snohomish 210 011 00 - 5 9 2

Oak Harbor 020 100 21 - 6 7 2

McAllister and Adams-Christensen. Johnson, Oxford (6) and Prasser. WP-Oxford (3-2). LP-McAllister. 2B-Adams-Christensen (Sno). 3B-Johnson (Sno), Moormeier (Sno) 2, Martinez (OH). Records-Snohomish 3-4 in division, 7-4 overall. Oak Harbor 4-5, 6-6.

Monroe 13, Oak Harbor 1

At Oak Harbor H.S.

Monroe (10)30 00 - 13 12 2

Oak Harbor 000 10 - 1 5 5

Willi and Ranko. Oxford, Moser (1), VanOort (4), Curtin (5) and Nekuda. WP-Willi (N/A). LP-Oxford (2-2). 2B-Sligh (Mon), Cardinal (OH). 3B-McCreary (Mon). HR-Lewis (Mon). Records-Monroe 2-6 in league, 3-7 overall. Oak Harbor 3-5, 5-6.

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