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South Whidbey baseball gets payback over rival Coupeville for District 1 title
For the first time since South Whidbey baseball head coach Tom Fallon can remember, the Falcons are District 1 champions.
And it came in a Disney-esque fashion against their rivals, the Coupeville Wolves, with a 4-0 victory May 10 and a walkoff home run the day before against Friday Harbor to reach the title game.
Three weeks prior, before South Whidbey took on Sultan in a three-game Cascade Conference series, the Falcon coaches asked their players how they wanted to finish the season. The Falcons were 4-5 overall and had lost two out of their three league series heading into the second half of the regular season. Fallon recalled asking the players to buy into his vision, to commit to practicing hard and believing they could challenge every team they faced.
“Kids really re-focused,” Fallon said.
South Whidbey won its next seven games and went 7-for-9 to end the regular season. To this point in the playoffs, South Whidbey has won three games and lost none.
“To finally break through and win our district, it’s really unbelievable and something that was one of my goals,” Fallon said. “I wanted to get a banner on that wall [at South Whidbey High School]. As a former student and player and now coach, it’s been a huge goal of mine to get these kids over the hump and put something on the wall forever.”
Playing for the district title Saturday at Kamiak High School, a renegotiated site after much of the District 1 tournament was hosted in Whatcom County, South Whidbey struck early and held on to its lead. A major part of the victory was junior pitcher Charlie Patterson, who struck out seven batters, gave up three hits and a walk in a complete game.
“I’ve been thinking about that game my whole life,” Patterson said. “It’s like a dream come true.”
South Whidbey scored two runs in the third inning and a pair in the fourth. The first two came on a stolen base at home plate by senior Colton Sterba and a RBI single by senior Jake Sladky. In the fourth inning, junior Brent Piehler brought in Trent Fallon for the 3-0 lead, and senior Nick Bennett scored sophomore Ricky Muzzy on a RBI single.
From there, it was all Patterson and the defense. In the final frame, Patterson struck out one batter, got one to ground out to second base and covered first base for the final out and the district title.
“I wanted that, I wanted to be thrown in that situation,” Patterson said.
“That exact play, we work on that every day,” he added of the third and final out.
Some of the euphoria from the day before surely carried into Saturday’s game. Against Friday Harbor, South Whidbey watched a slim lead disappear late in the game.
The Falcons led 3-1 going into the seventh inning. With two Wolverines on base, Sterba was relieved from the mound by Patterson. After getting the second out with a strikeout, Patterson gave up a RBI single and a RBI walk that knotted the score at 3-3 before a force out at second base sent South Whidbey to bat.
Ricky Muzzy, the first batter, was all the Falcons needed. He launched one of the first pitches he got past the outfield fence for a walkoff home run that sent South Whidbey to the district title game. Once he reached home plate, he was surrounded by his teammates for a short celebration.
“[Coach Fallon] gave me the signal to take the first pitch, which was just beautiful,” Muzzy said of his final at-bat. After a curveball that hit the dirt, Muzzy drilled the third pitch, a fastball.
“For the most part, I knew it was gone,” he said.
South Whidbey has most of the week off with a guaranteed spot in the state 1A baseball tournament. The Falcons travel to play the Cascade Christian Cougars on Saturday, May 17, at Sehome High School to determine their seed in the state playoffs.