The Falcon baseball team had high hopes traveling to Volunteer Park in Anacortes Saturday for the first round of playoffs.
The team faced the Burlington-Tigers of the Northwest Conference and, though they gave the Tigers a run for their money, lost 3-2 in eight innings.
Last night, the team faced Cedarcrest in the second playoff game. Game results were unavailable at press time.
Lakota Holder was on the mound for the Falcons the entire game while Burlington switched throwers once in the seventh.
South Whidbey scored in the first inning on a Paul Saelens double; the Falcons demonstrated great infield poise, taking advantage of every Tiger mistake.
“We’ll take ‘em any way we can,” Falcon Coach Dave Guetlin said.
The Tigers followed with two in the top of the third and they moved ahead 1-2. CJ Baker evened up by hitting a single for South Whidbey’s second run.
By the sixth, the Tigers were hitting at will but not scoring thanks to an aggressive Falcon defense. Baker at third and Trapper Rawls at first were steady for most of the day. In the outfield, when a Tiger hitter blasted a certain double, Paul Saelens was there.
“I saw the ball and knew I had room and could make the catch. Anything I can do to relieve the pressure on Lakota,” Saelens said.
“Paul’s catch was the best I’ve ever seen him make,” Baker said. “It was really sweet and prevented at least two runs.”
One sideline observer was impressed. “Your guys are playing pretty good ball; they just need a little more power,” said Pittsburgh Pirate scout Fred Myers. He was waiting for the next game to scout Sehome’s hot pitcher, Jordan Christopher.
The Tiger coaching staff started to get worried, switching their pitcher and changing the line-up. Late in the game, the teams were even at two runs, six hits and one error each; it was that close.
Finally, the Tigers scored the final unanswered run in the top of the eighth. Saelens, Baker and Nick Davis did their best but couldn’t score.
“Their pitcher was definitely hittable,” Saelens said. “I got two off him but we couldn’t get the runs.”
Catcher Danny Parra agreed.
“We just didn’t hit the ball the way we’re capable of,” he said. “Two runs in eight innings? We should have won.”
Parra’s father, assistant coach Frank Parra, felt the best team on the field didn’t win.
“The little things matter especially if it’s a close game,” Parra said. “The Tigers were an aggressive team who took advantage of every small error.”
Baker called it a heartbreaker.
“We all played as well as we could. The coach told us we didn’t get the clutch hits we needed. For Tuesday, Frank told us we’re the team to beat and need to remember that when we take the field.”
Saelens felt it had been a very good year, at least for the seniors.
“Most of us have been playing together for four years,” he said. “They all have a heart for the game.”
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.