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Wolves win, face rivals in title game | Baseball
It was more than just a win.
Coupeville High School's 5-2 victory over Lynden Christian in the semifinals of the district 1A baseball tournament at the Pipeline Athletic Complex in Blaine Friday, May 9, was more than a check in the win column.
(1)...advanced the Wolves to the district championship game.
(2)...qualified Coupeville for the tri-district tournament.
(3)...set up an all-Whidbey showdown in the finals.
(4)...kept the dream alive.
The championship game will be played at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo at noon Saturday, May 10, against rival South Whidbey. The game was moved from Blaine to Kamiak so the two Whidbey schools could meet at a more convenient neutral site.
Both Coupeville and South Whidbey, regardless of the outcome of Saturday's game, will advance to the tri-district tournament next Saturday, May 17, at Bellingham's Sehome High School. The winner will automatically qualify for the state tournament and play the District 3 champion in the tri-district title game to determine the top two seeds going into the state tournament. The loser of the district championship game gets two shots to win one tri-district game and a state berth.
When the season started, Coupeville, which returned eight starters from last year's team, spoke of league and state titles. The season got off to a promising start when the Wolves defeated South Whidbey twice in the opening three-game league series.
From that point, the two schools went in opposite directions.
Coupeville (12-9) dropped seven of its next 10 games, including three to eventual league champion Archbishop Murphy by a combined score of 24-1. Injuries to key players, an inconsistent defense and a lagging offense were the main culprits of the downfall.
South Whidbey (14-7) rattled off nine wins in its next 12 games, including a three-game sweep of Murphy.
Coupeville, with the help of a revived offense, has won six of its last seven games.
South Whidbey defeated Friday Harbor with a walk-off home run in the other district semifinal game to set up its meeting with the Wolves.
In the win over Lynden Christian, Coupeville pitcher C.J. Smith played Houdini and Jake Tumblin continued his offensive surge.
Smith stranded 10 base runners as the Lyncs put runners into scoring position in five of the first six innings before finally pushing across runs in the seventh. Four times Lynden Christian had a runner at second or third with only one out and failed to score.
Much of the pressure Smith faced wasn't his own doing: the Wolves made four errors behind him.
But, as coach Willie Smith said, “We were able to make all the defensive plays when we had to; we were flirting with disaster.”
“C.J. threw great for us,” coach Smith said. Two of C.J. Smith's three strikeouts came with runners at third base, including ending a bases-loaded jam in the third inning.
When Lynden Christian (8-14) loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh and with C.J. Smith's pitch count well over 100, coach Smith went to the mound.
The pitcher told his coach, “I want to finish this.” Catcher Tumblin and shortstop Ben Etzell also encouraged coach Smith to let the sophomore finish. When the next Lync hitter blooped a two-run single, coach Smith brought in ace Etzell to get the final out.
Coupeville's offensive revival the last nine games was ignited by Tumblin. During that span the senior has hit well over .500 with three doubles, two home runs, 10 runs and eight stolen bases.
Friday he was 3-for-3 with a home run, two runs, an RBI and stolen base.
“It's like this every year,” Tumblin said after the game. Once he finally starts hitting, the season ends.
His bat, however, is helping keep this season alive.
The Wolves scored their first run in the second inning. Korbin Korzan singled with one out. C.J. Smith bunted and the Lyncs threw the ball down the right field line, allowing Korzan to score.
Tumblin led off the third by tucking an home run just inside the left field foul pole. After an out, Etzell was hit by a pitch, stole second, moved to third on Josh Bayne's single and scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
Wade Schaef singled in the fourth and was driven home by Tumblin's base hit.
Tumblin led off the seventh with a walk and scored on Kurtis Smith's single.
Aaron Curtin also collected a hit for the Wolves.