For local hardball fans, the Widler Baseball Club must look like an all-star team.
For Sequim players, it seems to be a perfect fit.
Three Sequim-area players join some of the region’s top young baseball stars on a summer league team that won the state championship in 2008 and has eyes on getting back to the top.
The Wilder Baseball Club, a Port Angeles-based team with players from across the region, is back on the diamonds this summer, seeking wins in tourneys at home and as far as Clackamas and Portland, Ore.
Wilder’s roster includes: pitcher Spencer Middleton, a 2009 Sequim High graduate; outfielder/pitcher Alex Gillis, a 2010 SHS graduate; and infielder Isaac Yamamoto, a Sequim High senior in 2010-2011.
The youngest of the three, Yamamoto says playing with the Wilder group breaks down any competitive barriers high school players have during the prep spring seasons.
"You just kind of jump in; everyone’s friendly, having fun," he says.
"The instruction level here is great (and) I’m learning a lot," Yamamoto says. " (Summer ball) does make a difference. Every coach here makes it better."
Gillis has been playing summer baseball since he was 10 years old. Yamamoto was a teammate of Middleton’s with the Sequim Baseball group until joining the Wilder club this spring.
Expectations are high for the group that boasts top players from Sequim, Port Angeles and Port Townsend.
"We can definitely make a charge at state," Gillis says.
That’d help Gillis and Yamamoto forget the early playoff exit they experienced in the high school season.
"That never happened," Gillis jokes.
Wilder rips Kitsap
The Kitsap summer ball club started off back-to-back doubleheaders against Wilder with a walk-off home run win.
By tourney’s end, Wilder had its revenge.
Wilder pitchers held Kitsap to just seven runs in 28 innings and earned three wins last weekend to improve to 10-4 on the young season.
"We didn’t play at that well (but) neither did they," Wilder coach Rob Merritt said.
"We looked tired," he said. "There’s just a lot of stuff going on – finals, spring football. Our pitching and defense was great this weekend."
Playing at home, Kitsap edged Wilder 3-2 in the first game on June 12 with a walk-off homer in the seventh. Middleton had an RBI double while A.J. Konopaski had two hits and an RBI in the loss.
In game two on June 12, Wilder ripped Kitsap for nine runs, all in the third inning, to give Konopaski (3-1) the victory. Konopaski went the distance on the mound, striking out seven and giving up just five hits. He helped his own cause with two hits and two RBIs while Cody Sullivan added two RBIs.
On June 13 in Port Angeles, Wilder opened with an 8-3 win. Sullivan improved to 2-0, getting help from Yamamoto (2-for-3, two runs), Konopaski (RBI double, two runs) and Sullivan (2-for-4, two RBIs).
In the final game Sunday afternoon, Wilder and Kitsap tossed a pitcher’s duel. Middleton held Kitsap scoreless for five innings and Brian Senf for another six innings, and Easton Napiontek ended the scoreless draught with a solo home run in the 11th inning.
Middleton struck out four and gave up just four hits while Senf gave up just two hits. Sullivan was 2-for-5 and Trevor Drake added a pair of hits.
Wilder splits with
A wild weekend of baseball in late May saw Wilder split with visiting teams Toyota (Bellevue) and Marysville.
On May 29, Wilder opened with a 10-4 win against Toyota as Sullivan picked up the win and hit a two-run home run. Sequim’s Yamamoto was 1-for-3 with two runs scored while Middleton added two hits and an RBI. Senf tossed three no-hit innings for the save.
In game two, Marysville one-hit the Wilder club. Yamamoto broke up the no-hitter in the seventh with a single.
On May 30, Toyota topped Wilder 9-3 thanks to four runs in the third and sixth innings.
Wilder managed just four hits, from Gillis, Sullivan, Yamamoto and Kyler Morgan.
In the second game, Wilder crushed Marysville 14-7. Brandon Bankroft picked up the win and was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Middleton had three hits and drove in two while Gillis was 2-for-5 with an RBI.
Wilder wins 3
in Oak Harbor
Wilder won their first three games at a tourney in Oak Harbor May 22-23 before dropping their final game to the host ball club.
In game one on May 22, Sullivan drove in three runs and Napiontek added two doubles in a 9-5 win against Stanwood. Ryan Aumock picked up the win on the mound. Gillis walked twice and was 1-for-2.
In the second game of the day, Wilder crushed the Stanwood squad 17-1 in five innings. Gillis doubled, tripled and drove in two while Yamamoto was 1-for-2 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Konopaski had three hits, Napiontek had three RBIs and Bankroft scored three times. Middleton picked up the win.
On May 23, Wilder opened with an 11-5 win against Oak Harbor. Napiontek was 3-for-4 while Sullivan tripled and drove in two. Konopaski picked up the win, Sullivan the save.
Oak Harbor took the second game, winning 12-8. Yamamoto was 2-for-4 in the loss.