A big boost from the bottom of the batting order and unflinching performance on the mound by Otis Cooper-West propelled the Wolverines over Nooksack Valley, 7-3, in their post-season opener, Tuesday, May 6, at Hartman Field.
Hitting ninth in the batting order, senior Elliott Garl snapped a scoreless tie and sparked a third inning, 5-run score-fest with a well-placed base hit into shallow centerfield that scored freshman Kai Herko form third. Peter Holt ripped a double with the bases loaded to drive in two runs and shortstop Amer Melic followed with a hard-hit line drive up the middle that drove in two more.
“The bottom of the lineup really came through for us today,”said Melic, a four-year veteran who went 1-for-3, with two RBIs, in his final game at Hartman Feild, “especially with the bats. Everybody contributed.”
With the victory, Friday Harbor will face South Whidbey (13-7) in the semi-final round of the District 1 playoffs, Thursday, at 4 p.m., at Meridian High School. The winner will advance to Saturday’s championship game at Pipeline Fields in Blaine. Game time is 4 p.m.
Friday Harbor will face the Falcons without its starting center-fielder and backup catcher, however; as Holt rolled an ankle while crossing home plate in the third inning.
The Wolverines (13-4) also avenged their only loss to a regional 1A team with the victory over the Pioneers. They closed out the regular season with 11 wins, one loss and one tie after starting the season 1-3, including a 10-5 defeat at Nooksack Valley in their second game of the season.
Friday Harbor was far from flawless in the field, committing several costly errors, one of which allowed the Pioneers to add two runs in what proved to be a 3-run fifth inning and to narrow the deficit to 5-3. The Wolverines answered with two runs in their half of the inning, as Herko, hitting seventh in the batting order, laid down a perfectly placed bunt to score Gabe Lawson on a squeeze play and Brandin Allen, hitting No. 8, followed with a hard-hit single that sent Mitchell Coleman across home plate with the team’s final run of the game.
In his final game on the mound at Hartman Field, senior Otis Cooper-West, 6-1 on the year, struck out nine, walked four and scattered three base hits over seven innings to hold the Pioneers in check and avenge his only loss of the season. He echoed Melic in crediting the entire lineup for the win.
“The last four few games we’ve really been playing together well,” he said. “The bottom of the order did a great job and that’s really great to have when not everyone is having their best game at the plate.”