Conditions were bitter on two fronts for South Whidbey’s baseball team on Wednesday afternoon.
The Falcons were battling both a stiff wind chill and a host of illnesses amongst the team, but neither prevented South Whidbey from emerging as the victors over Granite Falls in a 14-3 win. The game ended after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
The Falcons improved to 2-1 overall and 2-1 in the Cascade Conference, compiling a season-high in runs with an added boost in morale.
“We know we have the bats, and pitchers don’t seem as scary now because we know most of us can hit,” said Falcon junior outfielder Will Simms. “It passes on to the next game and the next game. We feel good about it.”
Simms and senior pitcher Charlie Patterson were among those not afflicted with any illness. Both were sharp on the day, with Simms going 3-for-4 with one RBI and scoring on two runs and Patterson striking out 10 batters. He also went 2-for-4 with one RBI at the plate.
Patterson did, however, stumble in the first inning of the game while pitching. Facing Granite Falls’ Griffin Chapman, Patterson yielded a two-run home run after sending a low pitch to the opposing batter.
Patterson felt he should have struck out Chapman after throwing pitches he felt were strikes before the home run occurred. He chalked up the homer as a result of Chapman being a strong hitter.
“I left it up at his belt,” Patterson said. “He just roped it.”
The Falcons trailed 2-0 heading into the bottom of the first, though the Tigers’ lead didn’t last long.
Patterson, Simms, senior Josiah Colby and juniors Connor Antich and Austin Sterba all scored runs off Tigers pitcher Jordan Heppner, pushing the Falcons ahead 5-2. Falcon junior Maxfield Friedman nearly hit a grand slam with the bases loaded, but the ball fell short and hit the fence. His single scored Sterba and Colby, while senior Peter Jacobs brought in Simms for a run.
The Falcons scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning, with Colby driving in two. They added five runs in the third and fourth innings.
Patterson effectively mitigated all comeback attempts by the Tigers, with the help of stellar infield and outfield play by the Falcons. Colby replaced Patterson on the mound in the top of the fifth, yielding one run on a wild pitch.
Though Simms and Patterson were happy to have scored as many runs as they did, they said maintaining focus and high-level play with a cushioned lead is difficult. Patterson said the high volume in runs also led the Falcons away from what they’ve grown accustomed to over the past few seasons, which is manufacturing runs using bunts and other similar tactics.
“Honestly, with a game like this, it kind of sucks because you don’t get to work on that,” Patterson said. “It’s a good thing to be able to swing the sticks and we’ll show teams that we can manufacture runs later on.”
Falcon head coach Tom Fallon was impressed with the team’s performance despite a short week of practice. South Whidbey cancelled practice Monday as well as their game scheduled for Tuesday against North Kitsap due to the team’s illnesses.
“Nobody’s feeling great, it’s one of those things where you just got to come out focused,” Fallon said. “Both teams have to play in the elements.”
“I’ll take 14 runs any day, that makes my job easy,” he added.
He added that he didn’t have any qualms with scoring lot of runs — it’s natural for this team.
“We don’t care. They just continue to play the game the right away and so that’s what you try to do,” Fallon said.
The Falcons played the Tigers on Friday after The Record’s deadline. They play Port Townsend at home on Monday, March 28. First pitch is at 4 p.m.