Baseball: Coupeville 'blooped' out of playoffs

Coupeville’s J.D. Wilcox’s pickoff throw to Kevin Eaton arrives a moment late in the Wolves’ tri-district game.   - Jim Waller/Whidbey News-Times
Coupeville’s J.D. Wilcox’s pickoff throw to Kevin Eaton arrives a moment late in the Wolves’ tri-district game.
— image credit: Jim Waller/Whidbey News-Times

Sometimes in baseball its not how hard you hit the ball but where.

Seattle Christian blooped a single just inside the right-field line to score the winning run in the ninth inning for an 8-7 victory that chased Coupeville out of the tri-district tournament in Seattle Tuesday, May 11.

The Wolves built a 5-1 lead, saw that margin erased, scored two in the top of the seventh to send the game to extra innings, then died on the softest of hits in a game full of big blows and line-drive outs. The game was also full of missed opportunities by both teams.

The loss in the first round of the tri-district evened Coupeville’s season record at 12-12. Seattle Christian (11-7) will continue play this Saturday.

In a bizarre beginning to the game, Coupeville scored two runs in the first without a hit, walk or Warrior error. After an out, Seattle Christian pitcher Derek Weston plunked three straight Coupeville batters (Ian Smith, J.D. Wilcox and Erik King) to load the bases. The Wolves’ Chad Brookhouse then dropped down a perfect suicide bunt that not only scored Smith, but Wilcox as well.

Coupeville scored again in the second. Alex McClain singled, then a wide throw to second on Sean Thurman’s bunt placed runners at first and second. A wild pitched moved them up. After Erik Wheat lined out to left, Chase Griffin hit a sacrifice fly to score McClain.

The Warriors made it 3-1 in the bottom of the third off back-to-back doubles.

The Wolves tacked on two more in the fourth. Kevin Eaton led with a single, McClain got aboard on an error and Thurman bunted them to second and third. Wheat struck out, but the pitch eluded the catcher and the first baseman dropped the throw trying to force out Wheat.

Smith followed with a long double that scored two, but Wheat was gunned down trying to score from first to end the inning.

SC’s Andy Lessic led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run just inside the right-field pole to make it 5-2.

The Warriors tied it up in the fifth. A single, walk and single loaded the bases. Coupeville coach Willie Smith pulled starter Wilcox and brought in Ian Smith to pitch. Lessic came up big again and drilled a two-run single. Smith coaxed a 6-4-3 double-play out of the next hitter, but the tying run scored on the play.

The game’s best defensive play most likely saved the game for the Warriors in the top of the sixth. Eaton started the inning with a walk. Weston made a diving catch of McClain’s bunt, but threw wildly to first trying to double-up Eaton. Eaton was awarded second base. He then moved to third on Thurman’s ground out. Wheat followed with a high bouncer over the mound; the Warrior shortstop grabbed the ball bare handed and nipped the hustling Wheat for the third out with a web-gem play.

After trailing the entire game, Seattle Christian finally took the lead with two in the bottom of the sixth. Smith recorded two ground outs on just three pitches, then disaster struck. A triple, walk and hit batter packed the bases. A single scored two and now Coupeville trailed 7-5 heading to the seventh.

As they have several times this year, the Wolves rallied to stay in the game. Griffin started it off with a hustle double. An error off the bat of Smith put runners at first and third. Wilcox grounded out to first, scoring Griffin and moving Smith to second. After a strikeout, Brookhouse, the hero of the first inning, came through again, ripping a ground-ball base hit through the four hole to score Smith.

The Warriors had a runner at second with no outs in the seventh and with one out in the eighth but couldn’t score.

Coupeville had its best chance in the eighth when Smith started the inning with a single. Coach Smith called for a bunt-and-run, but the pitch was too wide for Wilcox to put down and Smith was caught in a run down.

With two outs in the ninth for the Warriros, a single and wild pitch put the winning run on second. Then came the blooper. The parachute shot landed six innings fair and just out of the reach of right fielder Thurman and second baseman King. Game over.

Coach Smith was obviously disappointed his club lost but was pleased that his team “executed well.” He added, “We left everything out there.”

It also marked the end of the athletic careers of six seniors. Smith said the group (Griffin, Eaton, King, Wilcox, Brookhouse and Wheat) was not only athletically talented but of high character. He said, “They are a fun group to be around. They treat everyone the same, which is huge for our team because some of our kids didn’t get to play much.”

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