Oak Harbor offense comes alive

There was never a question of whether the Oak Harbor baseball team could hit the ball, but rather, would its offensive potential ever appear in 2004?

The Wildcats emphatically answered the question Wednesday afternoon, halting a six game losing skid, while gaining their first league win of the season, 5-1, over Arlington.

“We were just hitting the ball so much better today,” head coach Jim Waller said. “We’ve played 10 games now and I think we’ve only played two games poorly defensively—it’s just been a lack of offense all year.

Hopefully this is a turning point.”

Oak Harbor got its offense rolling in the bottom of the third inning when pitcher John Lobbestael helped his own cause on a two-out RBI single to centerfield. Junior Jake Jansen followed, ripping an RBI double over first base and into the right field corner for a 2-1 advantage.

Jansen was aggressive all day at the plate, jumping on the first pitch three different times, while going 3-for-3 with 2 RBI.

“I was just trying to get on the fastball right away because I knew that’s what he was usually pitching the other guys,” Jansen said.

The Wildcats tacked on three more insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth. Two runs were scored when Lobbestael hit a ground ball to first. The Eagles’ firstbaseman tried to go to second to start a double play, but he threw the ball into centerfield, allowing Matt Badger and Kyle Isaacson to score. Jansen tacked on the third run of the inning on an RBI single into right field.

Other key hits for the Cats came from Badger, who went 2-for-3 with a walk and Camden Schutte, who was 3-for-3

Not only was the Oak Harbor hitting strong, but the pitching and defense were also rock solid.

Lobbestael pitched a complete seven innings, giving up only one run, on six hits and four walks. Most impressive about his performance was his ability to work out of tough situations.

Lobbestael’s determination showed in the first inning after allowing the first two runners to reach base. He then retired the middle of the Arlington order in sequence to get out of trouble.

“John’s just so tough,” Waller said. “He doesn’t get rattled.”

The Oak Harbor defense also came up big. In the third inning catcher Ryan Lange tracked down a passed ball and tossed back to home plate in time for Lobbestael to lay the tag on the runner. In the sixth inning the right fielder, Isaacson, took an overthrown pickoff attempt that sailed into the outfield and followed with a long accurate toss to home in time for Lange to lay the tag on the runner trying to score from second.

“We’ve talked about overcoming mistakes,” Waller said. “When we make one mistake we need to make another good play to overcome that—that happened twice for us tonight,” Waller said.

At 1-5 in league and 3-7 overall, Oak Harbor hopes to use their first league win as a launching pad for their remaining 10 games.

“I think this was a really good turning point,” Jansen said. “I think we’re going to come through the rest of the season and really show people what we’re made of.

I think we’re being underestimated right now and I think we’re going to start proving people wrong.”

Oak Harbor looked to keep its winning ways rolling yesterday at home against Marysville-Pilchuck (4-1, 7-2). The Cats face the Tomahawks again at 4 p.m., Tuesday, April 13 at Marysville. The game is a change from the original schedule, which had the order of play reversed.

Arlington 6, Oak Harbor 2

The Wildcats stranded seven men on base Tuesday afternoon, falling 6-2 at Arlington in the first game of the two-game series.

Josh Fritch pitched strong for the Cats, but went down with a shoulder injury in the fourth. Before leaving he hit a homerun to help Oak Harbor to an early lead.

The Wildcats were unable to get a single hit after the fourth inning and committed three errors for the game.

Isaacson was 2-for-3 with a walk, Lobbestael went 2-for-4 and Bryce Waller was 1-for-2 with a walk.

Tuesday at Arlington

Oak Harbor 110 000 0—2 6 3

Arlington 010 401 x—6 6 0

Fritch, Sinks (4) and Lange. Bishop and Bayless, Williams (6). WP-Bishop. LP-Sinks (0-2).

Wednesday at Oak Harbor

Arlington 010 000 0—1 6 2

Oak Harbor 002 030 x—5 11 1

Brown, Schain (5) and Williams. Lobbestael and Lange. WP--Lobbestael (1-2). LP--Brown. Arlington 1-5 league, 1-7 overall. Oak Harbor 1-5, 3-7.

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