F.H. downs Connell 4-1, takes eighth

Junior Richie Ochoa posted his 12th win of the season as the Wolverines claimed eighth place at state with 4-1 victory over Connell Saturday. Ochoa struck out 127 batters in 82 innings this season.

Wolverines ousted 18-7 by Freeman in quarterfinals

The Friday Harbor baseball team claimed an eighth-place finish at State and a shot at advancing into the semifinal round by dealing Connell a 4-1 defeat in the opening round of the state 1A tournament.

But injuries, illness and the 90-plus degree heat at game time took their toll as an explosive Freeman squad put an end to the Wolverines post-season run with an 18-7 victory Saturday at Moses Lake.

Friday Harbor (20-3) grabbed an early lead after junior Richie Ochoa belted a 3-run homer in the first inning. Michael Knowles added a solo home run two innings later and the Wolverines led 4-1 after three.

But with catcher Albert Strasser sidelined with a dislocated thumb and freshman Roy Taylor struggling on the mound after a week-long bout with chicken pox, the Scotties (21-1) capitalized on a three-run homer and a flurry of errors to tally nine runs in the fourth inning and took control of the game. The Wolverines sliced three runs off the deficit in their next at-bat, but Freeman put the contest out of reach by adding eight more runs over the final two innings.

“Albert has been hot at the plate and he’s such a leader on this team, it really hurt us to lose him,” Head Coach Rich Warin said. “But the guys really bucked up and we still had a shot up until those last two innings.”

Stocked with seniors, the Scotties took advantage of six base-on-balls and pounded out 13 hits and 14 RBIs against six Wolveirne pitchers. Friday Harbor managed six base hits and committed — uncharacteristically — an equal number of errors.

“Nerves, the heat and stiff competition got to us some,” Warin said. “But they’re a really good team.”

Against Connell, Ochoa scattered seven hits and struck out 13 would-be Eagle hitters in earning the opening-round win, his 12th of the season. Juniors Michael Sandifer, Jordan Nash and Knowles scored two runs with back-to-back-to-back hits and the Wolverines led 3-0 after three as Strasser drove in Knowles with a sacrifice fly.

Without a senior in the lineup, Friday Harbor, at 17-0, posted its first undefeated regular-season during Warin’s 14 years at the helm. They finished the season as a No. 8 team at State and earned their third consecutive Northwest 1A/2B League title. And the future looks bright.

“Everybody’s back next year.”