Sports and Schools

Wolves miss chance to move on in state | Baseball

Coupeville shortstop Josh Bayne throws out a Rochester runner as Aaron Curtin looks on. - Jim Waller / Whidbey Examiner
Coupeville shortstop Josh Bayne throws out a Rochester runner as Aaron Curtin looks on.
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey Examiner

The books “What If?” and “What Could Have Been” are thick, but the Coupeville High School baseball team was able to cram in one more page.

The Wolves lost 2-1 to Rochester in a loser-out, first-round game of the state 1A baseball tournament at Anacortes' Volunteer Field Saturday, May 24.

Coupeville left nine runners on base (six in scoring position), continually letting starting Rochester pitcher Dylan Fosnacht, who entered the national media spotlight last week (more on that later), off the hook.

Rochester (18-6) went on to win the regional title by defeating Hoquiam 4-1 later Saturday afternoon and qualified for the final four in Yakima next weekend.

Coupeville starter Ben Etzell continued a string of strong pitching performances, taking a two-hitter and a 1-0 lead into the fifth inning. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, an error allowed the Warriors' No. 9 hitter Andy Sommer to reach base. A single by Lucas Eastman sent Sommer to third; Eastman took second on the throw.

Fosnacht, the next hitter, asked for time, and Etzell interrupted his windup before the umpire granted the request, balking in Sommer with the tying run.

Lucas Wilson led off the sixth with a line-shot triple. After an out, a ground ball by Wyatt Singer skipped through the drawn-in infield on the left side to plate the go-ahead run.

Coupeville went down in order in the top of the seventh, the only inning it did not produce a base runner.

Coupeville (14-11) scored first in the top of the fifth. Etzell slugged a two-out double and Aaron Trumbull followed with a run-scoring base hit.

The Wolves needed a little more of that two-out magic throughout the game.

Jake Tumblin led off the game with a bad-hop single but was gunned down stealing by Rochester's rifle-armed catcher Dustin Wilson. That may have cost the Wolves a run. An out later, Etzell singled and Trumbull doubled, putting runners on second and third. A strikeout ended the threat.

Singles by Korbin Korzan and Wade Schaef led to another two-out, second and third situation in the second inning, but Fosnacht escaped by snaring Tumblin's hot-shot up the middle for the third out.

Walks put Coupeville runners on in the third and fourth innings.

In the sixth, the Wolves looked primed to score. Josh Bayne led with a single and Korzan reached on an error.

Rochester coach Jerry Striegel then replaced Fosnacht with Wilson on the mound.

C.J. Smith put down a two-strike bunt to move the runners up. The runners held on a ground out, then Tumblin walked to load the bases. A ground out finished the inning.

Coach Willie Smith took the blame for not scoring in the inning, conceding he should have called for a squeeze bunt.

Etzell pitched a six-hitter; three of the hits came in the sixth inning. He had five strikeouts and no walks. The Warriors did not have a runner past first until a two-base error in the fourth inning.

In five innings, Fosnacht have up seven hits and two walks, striking out three.

Last week, Fosnacht pitched into the 15th inning in a 1-0 17-inning win over La Center in Rochester's district tournament. In all, he threw 194 pitches, inciting a national media outcry. Comments were made on ESPN and MBL Baseball and his picture appeared in Sports Illustrated. Striegel was criticized for jeopardizing Fosnacht's health; 100 pitches is considered the “rule of thumb” limit on pitch counts.

Fosnacht, a senior and not a college pitching prospect, responded by saying he felt fine, now feels fine, and wasn't worried about jeopardizing his pitching career with an arm injury when the next loss would end the Warriors' season and his pitching days.

What did end Saturday was the fine Coupeville career of seniors Etzell, Tumblin, Schaef, Kurtis Smith and Morgan Payne, who missed the final half of the season with an injury.

“These boys had an amazing run,” coach Smith said, “and an incredible journey from four years until today. It is quite a special bunch with a lot of great personalities and huge hearts.”

 

 

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