Wilder runs away with Firecracker

The fireworks sure started early this year.

The Wilder Baseball Club, featuring four diamond stars from the Sequim area, exploded for 39 runs in four games as the tourney hosts captured their own annual Dick Brown Memorial Firecracker Classic held July 1-4.

"There's a feeling (that they are) supposed to win," Wilder coach Rob Merritt said of his club. "That's what we expect."

After racking up 10 or more runs in their three pool play contests, Wilder edged a feisty Kitsap Baseball Club squad 7-3 on July 4.

The four-game sweep is particularly good for the Wilder club as they have one more tournament - July 8-11 in Clackamas, Ore., before competing at the Washington State tournament in Ephrata in mid-July. State tourney champs move on to the Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament in Portland held July 21-24.

Sequim's own summer league club - aptly named Sequim Baseball - had a solid tourney as well. Despite dropping two of three in pool play, Sequim came back to beat Blaze Baseball of Gig Harbor 5-4 in the Sunday finale to capture fifth.

"We've been playing real well," Sequim Baseball coach Dan Perry said. "We're real young. We started five guys who (recently) turned 16."

Sequim Baseball battles

After a tough 11-8 loss to Oak Harbor on July 1, the team got a complete-game, 11-strikeout performance from Tyler Campbell in a 5-1 win against the Victoria Mariners the next day.

Sequim then took on Wilder (see page B-4), falling in six innings.

That set up a game with Blaze Baseball on Sunday. Perry went to Mike Bereiter, who tossed all seven innings. Sequim got key hits from Karsten Wake, Weston Royall and Preston McFarlen, plus some key base running. Matt Bereiter, Mike's brother, scored the winning run.

The Sequim team was without standout Drew Rickerson who was in California playing at a Stanford University baseball camp. (Rickerson tossed two innings and hit a home run at the camp this weekend.)

But Perry and other

Sequim coaches were able to move around much of their roster to multiple positions, shifting McFarlen -

Sequim High School's starting varsity catcher - to third base, Campbell (normally a

catcher) to toss some innings, Wake and Ray Montelius to multiple infield positions and other switches during the tourney.

"We're big on moving guys around," Perry said.

It hasn't seemed to slow them down, either. Sequim placed second in a tournament in Tacoma a week before the Firecracker.

"We've played with everybody ... and we're happy with that."

A local battle

Armed with some of the best players from Sequim, Port Angeles and Port Townsend, Wilder blasted the Victoria Mariners 11-0 in their opener and Oak Harbor 10-0 the next day, setting up a match-up with Sequim on July 3.

It's the first time since the tourney was started 12 years ago that the teams have been pitted against each other in pool play, Perry said.

Wilder struck first off Sequim starter Matt Bereiter, as A.J. Konopaski ripped a base hit to left to score Kyler Morgan for a 1-0 lead after one inning.

Sequim got that run back as Weston Royall doubled, advanced to third on a Wake single and scored on a wild pickoff attempt from the Wilder catcher.

Wilder jumped out to a 4-1 lead with three runs in the fourth inning. Konopaski and Spencer Middleton (a Sequim High grad) each had RBI singles while Easton Napiontek had an RBI ground out.

Sequim looked to even things up in the next inning, loading the bases with one out on three consecutive hits. But Konopaski, Wilder's starter, got the last two outs without any damage.

Wilder tacked on two runs in the fourth inning, as

Sequim grad Alex Gillis doubled and scored on an error, and Morgan added an RBI ground out to make it 6-1.

The Wolves club broke it open further in the fifth inning, highlighted by a two-run single from Ryan Heuter, another Sequim-based player.

Middleton helped Wilder close it out in the sixth inning, doubling to left and scoring on Brandon Bancroft's RBI single to center with two outs.

"It's not really a rivalry," Merritt said. "They (Sequim Baseball's staff) do a good job of coaching. They battled."

Perry said the difference between the clubs is clear, calling Wilder more of an all-star team and his a development program.

"We're one of the few teams that don't get down. We don't give up."

12th Annual Dick Brown Memorial Firecracker Classic, final standings

1. Wilder Baseball Club

2. Kitsap Baseball Club

3. Coquitlam Reds

4. Oak Harbor Legion

5. Sequim Baseball Club

6. Blaze Baseball

(Gig Harbor)

7. Victoria Eagles

8. Victoria Mariners

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