On an absolutely perfect spring day for baseball, the Port Angeles Roughriders showed a young Sequim Wolves team the benefit of patience, and then in the end, struck with power.
The Riders won 9-1 on April 14, though Port Angeles only managed five hits for the entire game. The Roughriders scored several runs early thanks to clean baserunning, taking walks, getting hit by pitches and stealing. Then, they erupted for three runs in the bottom of the sixth on a two-run home run by Jacob Felton and a deep double to center by Adam Watkins.
It was a contrast of a senior-heavy Port Angeles squad improving to 6-2 and a young 1-6 Sequim squad looking to learn and grow in a shortened season.
“Defensively, we did a good job. The pitchers did a good job making them put the ball in play,” said Riders coach Casey Dietz.
“That was one of our cleaner games,” said Sequim coach Dave Ditlefsen. “They (Port Angeles) ran the bases well and got their timely hits. You have to play very, very well to compete with teams like that.”
The game felt closer than the final score showed as Wolves’ pitcher Connor Bear kept the Riders largely in check through four innings. About his only mistake was a two-run seeing-eye single through the infield given up to Ty Bradow. Bear only gave up two earned runs, but a couple of crucial errors hurt him, allowing four unearned runs. Ricky Jennings struck out four in the final two innings.
“Conner always keeps us in games,” Ditlefsen said.
Meanwhile, a trio of Seth Woods, Watkins and Felton scattered four hits and four walks to the Wolves. Watkins went three innings in relief, gave up no hits and struck out four.
The Riders used a strategy of death by a thousand cuts early, putting tremendous pressure on the Wolves by having two or three baserunners on every inning through three hits, six walks, four hit batsmen and three errors. Other than Bradow’s two-run single, they didn’t have any big hits but managed to score six runs before the Riders’ power showed up.
Up 6-1 in the sixth, Felton blew the game open with a two-run bomb to dead left field.
“Jake hit it as hard as I’ve ever seen a ball hit,” Dietz said.
“My first two at-bats, I swung at pitches I should’ve let go,” Felton said. “So I just sat back and swung hard at a middle inside pitch.”
Felton wasn’t sure he hit the ball high enough to go out but knew he had connected.
“It felt good. It felt good coming off the bat,” Felton said.
Watkins followed up shortly afterward with a stand-up double to deep center that missed being out of the park by about 10 feet. He eventually came around to score when Woods was hit with a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 9-1.
Ryan Porter had the RBI for the Wolves, driving in Kaeden Brown in the second inning on a groundout. Brown was running for Zach McCracken, who got on base with a solid single. Brown moved around to third on a single by Ricky Jennings and a sacrifice bunt by Isaiah Moore.
The Riders might have had expectations to go deep into the state tournament if there was a tournament this year. Instead, they are settling for winning as many games as they can and being appreciative that they are able to play during the pandemic.
“Our goal is to make the best of what this year gives us,” Felton said.
“Honestly, we’re just trying to get better and have some fun,” Ditlefsen said.
Sequim (1-7) is at Olympic on April 21 and hosts the Trojans the following day.
The Wolves are at North Kitsap on April 28.
Sequim hosts North Mason on April 29 before ending the season with an away game at North Mason on May 1.