Coupeville edges Oak Harbor

Just 10 miles separate Oak Harbor and Coupeville.

With the significant difference in town size it’s not often the two get to square off in any sport.

On the rare occasion they do meet, however, one can expect the natural sense of rivalry to kick in — and it did Thursday night between the Junior Legion A baseball teams.

“It was a great game, it could have gone either way,” Oak Harbor coach John Encinas said.

In a tight back-and-forth contest it was Coupeville that finally tacked the last run on the board in the seventh inning to grab a 5-4 league victory.

Oak Harbor, which trailed 4-3 headed to the top of the seventh, tied the game after Gary Ellis drove in a run from third on a ground ball to the right side of the infield.

The Wolves had an answer in their half of the seventh with near perfect execution.

A leadoff single from Zack Gifford got things started. Ian Lind followed with a sacrifice bunt down the left side of the infield that moved the runner all the way from first to third as the Wildcats forgot to cover. The next batter, James Smith, then took two hard strikes from the relief pitcher Ellis before looping an RBI single over the infield for the game-winning run.

“James let two nice pitches go down the middle and then he got one — it was a flair for the dramatic I suppose,” Coupeville coach Willie Smith said.

Oak Harbor took the initial lead, going up 2-0 in the first inning. Andrew Bighouse bounced a ground rule double over the center field fence to score the first run. Oak Harbor then added another run on an errant throw from third base to first, allowing Bighouse to score.

Wildcat pinch hitter Brian Nelson put Oak Harbor up 3-1 in the fourth on a bloop RBI single to center field. In his short time on the field he was 2-for-2, scored one run and had a diving catch in right field to steal a hit.

The score remained 3-1 until the bottom of the sixth when Coupeville’s Kyle Wilcox drilled an RBI triple over the center fielder Tommy Slais’ head, scoring Lind. Wolf catcher Casey Larson then gave Coupeville its first lead driving a 2-0 pitch from Ellis over the left center field fence for a two-run home run and a 4-3 lead.

“The ball got real big — like a pumpkin,” Larson said.

Larson, who hit his third home run of the summer, went 3-for-3 with a walk and drove in Coupeville’s first run on a opposite-field single.

The Wolves’ starting pitcher, Wilcox, picked up the win going a complete seven innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs with six strikeouts.

“After the first inning I don’t think they hit a ball hard off of him and we played good defense behind him,” coach Smith said. “I was very happy for Kyle he really needed that.”

Bighouse, Oak Harbor’s starter, also pitched a solid game, going five innings with three earned runs, seven hits and four strikeouts.

Coupeville improved to 3-5 with the victory, while Oak Harbor dropped to 4-4.

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