Pick offs silence Falcon hitting

Michael Lodell gets picked off at second base in the third inning of Wednesday
Michael Lodell gets picked off at second base in the third inning of Wednesday's game between the Falcons and the Granite Falls Tigers. Heavy pressure put on South Whidbey baserunners largely kept them from reaching home plate in the 6-1 loss.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

An opposing pitcher with a deceptive pick-off throw, nervous base running and missed scoring opportunities in the early innings turned South Whidbey's first meeting of the season with Granite Falls Wednesday into a reality check.

Coming off two games the week before in which they scored 10 or more runs, the Falcons were stymied at the plate and were easy targets on the basepaths as they were only able to get one runner across the plate in a 6-1 loss to the Tigers.

Though they were able to get their bats on the ball early, the Falcons got outfoxed by the Tigers starting pitche. Using a delivery that bordered on balking, he picked off two South Whidbey base runners in a row at first base to start the second inning. For the remainder of the game, he used that move pin South Whidbey baserunners to the bag, destroying the Falcon stealing game.

After the first two pickoffs, South Whidbey coach Dave Guetlin tried to argue for a balk call. He didn't get it, nor did the chant of "Balk, balk" from his team's dugout hold any sway.

Guetlin cut the chanting off, telling his team it wouldn't do any good.

"I don't want to hear that word again, because they're not going to call it," he told them.

Had South Whidbey batters had a better day, the game would have been more competitive. For the second straight game, sophomore Dustin Sidhu had an outstanding day on the mound. After senior hurler Brian Wenker ran into trouble in the in the first and second innings and gave up four runs to the Tigers, Sidhu took over for the next five innings. He did not allow a single earned run in relief, but the Tigers did manage to score twice more in the top of the seventh.

Offensively, the Falcons wound up relying on just two batters. Wenker went 2-for-3 with a fourth-inning double that hit the fence in center field. Coming up with the team's only run was senior Michael Berry. Three-for-3 for the afternoon, Berry led off the fifth inning with a double, moved to third on a ground ball, then scored on a Dustin Sidhu fly ball.

With the loss, the Falcons drop to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the North Cascades Conference to lose their tie for the conference lead. The Tigers are now 4-3 in the NCC.

South Whidbey comes home to play again on Monday against Lynden Christian. The game starts at 4:30 p.m.

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