Except for the third and fourth innings, Sunnyside Christian's baseball team went tit-for-tat with the Oakville Acorns yesterday afternoon.
Unfortunately for the Knights the 1B District tournament opener, a loser-out affair, ended with visiting Oakville on top, 9-2.
The Acorns, who actually came up with one fewer hit than host Sunnyside Christian, took advantage of some sloppy play in the field and a bit of wildness on the part of the Knights' hurlers to push eight runs across the plate in the third and fourth frames.
Four of the five errors Sunnyside Christian committed in the playoff game occurred in those two pivotal innings. The Knights also issued five free passes, from a total of seven walks total, in the third and fourth frames.
"Too many second and third-chance opportunities during that stretch," SCHS Coach Tyler Alseth said of his club's letdown in the middle stages of the game. "The kids might have been a little nervous, with it being such a big game yesterday."
It also didn't help matters any that Oakville ripped three extra base hits during those two rallies...a pair of doubles by Brown and Ortivez in the top of the third and a two-run two-bagger off the bat of Newton in the fourth.
All told, the Acorns managed just seven hits total on Thursday. Starting pitcher Brandon Moore closed the door on Oakville in the first two innings, not allowing a single run. Moore (2-5) couldn't get out of the third, however, and ended up absorbing the loss thanks to the five runs, nearly all unearned, that Oakville scored that inning. He was replaced on the hill by older brother Matt, who yielded another three runs in the top of the fourth.
Sunnyside Christian's ace this season, sophomore Wyatt Hoff, completed the pitching chores and tossed the final three innings, only giving up a single run down the stretch. Hoff went the distance atop the mound this past Monday in the Knights' 8-7 victory over Lyle/Wishram in a District tourney play-in game, thus was reduced to a mop-up role yesterday.
Sunnyside Christian forged the early lead on the Acorns by plating a single run in the bottom of the first. Alex Brouwer worked a walk of Oakville's starter, Wouckton, moving to second on a sac bunt off the bat of Brant Bosma. A bloop single by Brandon Moore pushed Brouwer to third. Brouwer then easily scored on a clean single by Drew Puterbaugh.
After the miscues in the third and fourth innings to fall behind 8-1, Sunnyside Christian made one last charge at Oakville. In the home half of the fifth Bosma reached on a walk, advanced a bag on Brandon Moore's second single of the game, then raced home on a ringing double by Puterbaugh, who went 2-for-4 yesterday to keep his team-high season average at .510.
Besides the two hits apiece by Puterbaugh and Moore, the Knights also got a 2-for-4 performance at the plate from Jackson Haak. Sunnyside Christian had eight hits total in the postseason contest.
Clutching up in key situations, though, wasn't the Knights' strong point, as they stranded 12 base runners, "twice with one out with runners on second and third," said Alseth.
Despite the rough ending to the season for Sunnyside Christian (7-10), Alseth couldn't be more pleased with his club, which was reviving the school's baseball program after a half-decade absence on the diamond.
"The kids had a lot of fun this spring, and they showed tremendous improvement from the beginning of the season.
"We lose five seniors, but we'll have seven of our nine starters back next year. I've talked to the kids and they're all interested in picking up some games this summer to get even more experience on the field.
"We're looking forward to next year," Alseth said.