Sports

Wildcats eye playoff berth

Oak Harbor learned two important things about itself this week.

It is never out of a game and it can stay focused regardless of how big of a lead it has.

Perhaps the most significant thing to come out of the week’s 5-4 victory over Stanwood and 9-0 rout of Mount Vernon, however, is the situation the Wildcats put themselves in.

The wins moved OHHS to 7-6 in league and 9-8 overall, leaving them in position for the fourth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference North with three games left to play. They faced Mount Vernon last night and have two games next week against Marysville-Pilchuck (6-8, 9-9). Marysville is one of the teams that is still in contention for the final playoff spot.

“The great part about it is we control our own destiny,” OHHS head coach Jim Waller said.

The Wildcats placed themselves in the great scenario via a thrilling ending Tuesday afternoon.

Trailing 4-1 headed to the bottom of the seventh inning, OHHS rallied for four runs and the win with two outs.

“I can recall only two other games in my career of nearly 600 games when we accomplished such a feat,” Waller said.

Junior Brendan Kays led off the seventh with a single, but things suddenly turned bleak for the Wildcats. The next two batters followed with a strikeout and fly out.

Sophomore Chris Valencia revived the rally with a single and sophomore Johnny Enincas reached on an error to load the bases. Junior Marshall Lobbestael followed with a bloop single over third base to drive in one run before Mark Radach came through with a big hit. On a 3-2 pitch, the senior lined a single to right and the ball got by the right fielder for an error that allowed all three runners to score.

Stanwood 000 022 0 — 4 9 3

Oak Harbor 000 100 4 — 5 8 2

Alexander and Riley B. Kays, Radach (6) and Encinas. WP-Radach (3-1).

OHHS 9, MVHS 0

Wednesday night was far less dramatic for the Wildcats, but there were no complaints.

“We hit well, we pitched well, we played good defense — you can’t ask for much more than that,” Waller said.

OHHS scored five runs in the first inning on six base hits off Mount Vernon starter Brett Monson and never looked back.

“We emphasized in the beginning...that the longer you let a team like that hang around the tougher it is and we had to come out right away and let them know they were in for a long day and I though the kids did a great job,” Waller said.

Lobbestael, Radach, Valencia and junior James Leach all had RBI hits in the first inning. Encinas and senior Cameron Kays added RBI hits later. Lobbestael led the team at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBI. He also picked up the win, pitching four innings and surrendering just one hit with five strikeouts. Senior Jeff Lang came in to close out the final three innings and retired eight batters in a row before allowing one hit. He got the next batter out on a ground out to end the contest.

Oak Harbor’s focus now falls on the final two league games.

A trip to the playoffs would be the first for Oak Harbor since 1994. Prior to that season, the Wildcats made 11 trips to the post season in 13 years. Since 1994, OHHS has missed the playoffs by one game three times.

Waller said he regularly reminds his team of the fact that nothing’s for sure just yet.

“Every game’s important, we’re not in it yet,” he said. “The way Marysville is playing, it’s going to be tough.”

OHHS closes its season out with a game at MPHS on Monday, May 1 and a home game at 4 p.m., Tuesday, May 2.

The Tomahawks, who started league 0-7 are 6-1 over their last seven WesCo North games.

Mount Vernon 000 000 0 — 0 2 1

Oak Harbor 503 010 x — 9 15 2

Monson, Scott (2) and Etringer. Lobbestael, Lang (5) and Encinas. WP-Lobbestael (2-3).

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