Whidbey Examiner


Comeback helps Wolves top Pioneers in baseball

By JIM WALLER March 21, 2013 · 1:58 PM

A mud-covered Morgan Payne celebrates scoring a run in the 9-8 comeback win over Nooksack Valley Saturday. / Ron Newberry photo

In a baseball game that had a little bit of everything, the best ingredient was a Coupeville win as the Wolves nipped Nooksack Valley 9-8 at Robert Sherman Field Saturday.

The win helped ease the loss of a conference double header at Lakewood Friday.

The Nooksack Valley game featured extra innings (it went 10), clutch hitting, gutty pitching, missed opportunities, a comeback, big plays and bad plays, all with some extreme weather (high winds and sleet) mixed in.

In the bottom of the 10th, Morgan Payne reached on an error, stole second and then moved to third on walks to Aaron Curtin and Drew Chan.

With one out Aaron Trumbull came to the plate. He told coach Willie Smith he was cold and wanted to go home; Smith told Trumbull the quickest way to make it happen was to drive in the run. Trumbull lifted a fly to center that barely scored Payne and completed the comeback.

It didn’t start well for the Wolves. Coupeville’s starting pitcher didn’t make it out of the first inning and Trumbull took over and battled to the top of the fourth.

By then, Nooksack Valley had scraped and dinked, according to Smith, to a 6-1 lead.

As if that didn’t make the Wolves feel bad, Mother Nature decided to add to the misery as the winds and sideways rain picked up. Instead of succumbing to the Pioneers and the miserable weather, Coupeville revved up its offense.

As the weather got wilder, so did the Pioneer pitching. Two hit batters and two walks helped the Wolves patch together a five-run sixth highlighted by a clutch hit by Curtin. That made it 7-6, Nooksack.

Now with the momentum, Coupeville tied it in the seventh. Jake Tumblin walked, and for the Wolves, that is as good as a triple. The speedy Tumblin promptly swiped second and third.

But Tumblin’s efforts would have been wasted had Ben Etzell not slapped a single with two outs to send the game into extra innings.

While the Wolves clawed back in the game, Josh Bayne, who moved to the mound in the fourth, held Nooksack in check the rest of the way.

Smith said, “Josh was phenomenal on the mound, giving up just one earned run over six innings and completely shutting them down offensively.”

Kurtis Smith, Etzell and Payne each finished with two hits, Curtin collected three RBI and Tumblin walked three times.

Coach Smith said, “I am super proud of these guys for sticking with it and really coming together through a lot of adversity. It is certainly a great sign that they have turned around their mentality and can battle through some pretty tough conditions to pull out the win.”

Offense struggles then miscues haunted Coupeville at Lakewood.

In the first game, the Wolves collected only two hits in a 6-3 loss, then in the second game let a 5-2 lead slip away with four late unearned runs in the 6-5 loss to the Cougars, one of the Cascade Conference preseason favorites.

In game one, Etzell pitched well into the third but “started to get the ball up,” according to coach Smith, when the Cougars collected four consecutive hits to score five runs to go up 5-1.

Wade Schaef took over on the mound in the fourth and surrendered only one run over three innings.

Schaef singled for one of Coupeville’s hits and Korbin Korzan doubled.

Lakewood errors helped the Wolves tally two runs.

Smith said, “Defensively we were pretty solid, although we did have a misplayed fly ball in the third that would have helped us. Overall, we ran the bases well and I was pleased with the pitching and defense.”

The offense picked up in the second game, but the defense struggled.

Coupeville led 5-2 in the fifth before giving up the four unearned runs.

Payne sparked the offense with two hits, a double and two RBI. Four others rapped hits, led by Drew Chan’s double.

Smith said, “Aaron Curtin pitched very well in the loss, giving up just two earned runs while combining with Aaron Trumbull (entered in the fifth) to check their bats to four hits.”

Smith said his team did “a lot of good things” but needs to limit opponents from having big innings.

“The things we need to fix are very fixable,” Smith said, “and it was very encouraging for us to hit the ball like we did in game two and get the pitching performances we did.”

The Wolves host Port Townsend at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Next week Coupeville returns to conference action with a series against rival South Whidbey. The Wolves host the Falcons at 4 p.m. Monday and Friday and go to Langley Wednesday.


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