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Fifth-inning collapse costs Falcons
A string of untimely mistakes lifted the Coupeville Wolves baseball team 8-4 over the South Whidbey Falcons in the Cascade Conference opener Monday.
Through four innings, South Whidbey looked to have victory in its mitts. The Falcons led 3-0 behind brilliant pitching from senior CJ Sutfin and a couple of hits by junior Mo Hamsa and Sutfin that brought in three runs in the third inning.
“Early season jitters, maybe,” said Falcon head coach Tom Fallon of what cost his team the lead. “Our communication was lacking a little there.”
Sutfin got the Wolves to hit infield grounders and fly balls early in the game while also ringing up two strikeouts. But he also sent three runners to first base on a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch.
Still, the defense held through four innings. Then came the fifth that started with the beaning of Korbin Korzan, followed by a single through the right side of the infield. Falcon assistant coach Bill Patterson took Sutfin off the mound and brought in senior Colton Sterba from third base.
“It just snowballed from there,” Fallon said.
Facing his first batter of the game, Sterba gave up a momentum-swinging hit. Josh Bayne drove in Korzan on a single to right-center field and advanced to second base on the Falcon center fielder Jake Sladky’s throw to third base. Sterba walked the next batter, which was followed by a fielder’s choice grounder to Falcon shortstop Ricky Muzzy, whose throw went past second baseman Trent Fallon and allowed to runs to score. Coupeville and South Whidbey were tied at three runs apiece, and the Falcons had not gotten an out in the fifth inning.
The Wolves took the lead on an errant throw to first base that bounced off the infield before Sutfin could grab it, allowing two more runs to score.
South Whidbey was able to tack on one more run, but could not keep pace with Coupeville’s eight scores. The Wolves had six walks and three hits on the Falcons, who had six hits. Hamsa led, going 2-3 with a RBI, and Sutfin went 1-2 with two RBI.
The loss dropped South Whidbey’s overall record to 1-1, after the Falcons defeated the Blaine Borderites 4-2 on Saturday. In the season opener, Hamsa recorded the victory pitching three innings. He was aided by relievers Charlie Patterson, Brent Piehler, Sutfin and Sterba, who each pitched one inning. South Whidbey gave up seven hits and three walks to Blaine. And although the Falcons tallied nine hits, they left 10 runners on base. Sladky’s 2-for-3 performance at the plate with a RBI led against the Borderites. Piehler was 2-4 with a double, and Trent Fallon went 1-4 with a double and a RBI.
The field, though soggy around the fence from heavy rain over the previous weekend, appeared well-groomed, and was a source of pride for Fallon. Before the season began, he said the team held three work party days and notched 270 hours cleaning the dugouts and infield.
“We had a lot of commitment and pride from the kids,” he said.