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Swinging hot bats, Central Whidbey pounded out 10 hits Wednesday as it beat Sedro-Woolley 10-1 in the district playoffs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The season rolls on.

Overcoming slashing rain and a muddy field at Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park Wednesday, the Central Whidbey Little League Majors baseball squad kept its playoff dream alive.

Two days after whiffing 16 times in a loss to South Whidbey in the opener of the District 11 tourney, the Wolves bounced back, shredding Sedro-Woolley 10-1.

Along the way, Central Whidbey racked up 10 base-knocks and eight walks, while its pitchers combined to hurl 11 strikeouts.

The win lifts CWLL to 11-7 on the season, and guarantees the team at least one more game.

Central Whidbey returns to Oak Town Thursday, when it will play either Anacortes or North Whidbey in a 6 PM loser-out game.

Anacortes was up 21-9 in the top of the sixth Wednesday when darkness halted play in that game.

Another victory Thursday, and the Wolves play Friday against either South Whidbey or Burlington-Edison.

The tourney will crown a champ either Saturday or Sunday, with that team punching its ticket to the state tourney.

There were two big questions hanging in the muggy air Wednesday night.

One, would it rain and how much?

The answer, of course it would rain – this is summer on Whidbey Island, and a lot, with sheets of rain turning the area around home plate into a pig’s dream and forcing one extended rain delay and several mini-breaks.

The second question, would Central Whidbey’s bats regain their pop?

The answer, of course they would.

Chase Anderson spanked three hits, Jack Porter and John Rachal walloped two apiece, while Landon Roberts, Alex Smith, and Johnny Porter each added a base-knock.

Central Whidbey collected three doubles, with the biggest blow, by far, erupting off the bat of Rachal.

Swinging out of his shoes, he laced an RBI double which took a big skip, then slammed off the wall in straight-away center field, wowing both his appreciative fan club and the normally unflappable pros in the press box.

And yet, while the final score looks like a blowout, the game was actually a nail-biter until the bottom of the third inning.

Or, about an hour-and-a-half after the game’s first pitch.

Central Whidbey had scraped out a run in the bottom of the first and another in the second to stake itself to a 2-1 lead.

The first Wolf to skid across a very-slick home plate was lead-off hitter Jack Porter, who smoked a single to left-center, then took second thanks to an obstruction call on Sedro’s first-baseman, who wandered in a daze right into the baseline.

With Porter rocking back and forth on the bag, teammate Chase Anderson promptly popped a one-out RBI single to right to get the first click of the night from the scoreboard operator.

While Sedro escaped further damage, ending the inning by nailing a runner at the plate, the damage had been done.

The off-Islanders got their only run in the top of the second thanks to a very-wet ball squirting away from Wolf fielders on one wild ‘n wacky play, but starting pitcher Camden Glover was otherwise untouchable.

He whiffed three in two innings of work, while his catcher, Johnny Porter, threw out both runners who dared to try and run on his cannon of an arm.

Walks to Glover and Jordan Bradford, packaged around a Rachal single which managed to evade three different Sedro fielders, juiced the bags in the bottom of the second, before Aiden O’Neill effectively won the game by sacrificing his body.

Taking a pitch off of his heel, his free pass the hard way forced in Central’s second run, the only other one it would need on the night.

Not that the Wolves were content to stop with a 2-1 lead, instead putting together an 11-batter, six-run outburst in the third.

It started with Johnny Porter skedaddling down the line to first after a dropped third strike, and ended with a bang-bang play at the plate which was one of the few things to go Sedro’s way during the inning.

In between, there were a couple walks, hard choppers which produced runs from Marcelo Gebhard, Smith, and Anderson, and a dramatic two-run double to left from Jack Porter.

Tack on two more runs in the fourth, thanks to Rachal’s big-time blast, and an RBI single from Smith, and the game came dangerously close to being called short thanks to the mercy rule.

And mercy was something Central Whidbey didn’t display, as its pitchers methodically shut down Sedro after the one lucky run.

Glover (three K’s) was followed to the (muddy) mound by Bradford (1), Jack Porter (3), Roberts (2), and Anderson (2) and all kept the ball popping into the mitt.

Along with Wolf catcher Johnny Porter gunning down runners left and right, Central Whidbey got solid defensive plays from first-basemen Roberts and O’Neill.

Roberts stretched out his frame to its last possible inch to snag one throw coming in hot and low.

After replacing him at first, O’Neill made a nice play on a wicked grounder, knocking the skidding ball into the mud, then plucking it out and beating the madly-scrambling hitter to the bag.

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Chase Anderson eyeballs the action from behind home plate. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Pitching under blazing summer skies, Landon Roberts kicks the heat up a notch.

John Rachal fires the ball back in.

Camden Glover slaps the tag down at third, blunting a South Whidbey rally.

Playoff fever rages across the diamond.

The District 11 Majors all-star baseball tourney kicked off Monday at Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park, and runs through the end of the week.

At stake in the six-team, double-elimination rumble is a ticket to the state championships, and action of that sort is likely to attract the attention of the paparazzi.

Monday’s opener between Central and South Whidbey proved this, as John Fisken was seen lurking around the edges, snapping pics under the blazing early-evening sun.

To see everything he shot, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-baseball-2018-2019/CWLL-Majors-2019-07-08-vs-SWLL/

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The CWLL Majors baseball squad can have plenty more celebrations like this, if the Wolves reignite their bats. (Carron Chernobieff photo)

The bats went silent at the worst possible moment.

Unable to muster any kind of sustained offensive attack Monday, the Central Whidbey Little League Majors baseball squad fell 6-0 to arch-rival South Whidbey in the opening game of the District 11 All-Stars tourney.

While the loss drops the Wolves to 10-7 on the season, they’re still alive in the six-team, double-elimination royal rumble.

Central Whidbey returns to Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park Wednesday to face either Burlington-Edison or Sedro-Woolley in a loser-out game.

First pitch, weather permitting, is set for 6 PM.

If the Wolves want to play further into the tournament, which runs through Sunday, they’ll need to find a way to fire-up their bats, and not repeat Monday’s two-hit, 16-strikeout showing at the plate.

“We are just unable at times to get the bat off our shoulders or get a string of swings to make contact,” said Central coach Jon Roberts. “We saw five really good pitchers today, but we just looked flat.”

There was a point mid-way through the game where it looked like Central Whidbey would never make contact, as its first 11 batters all went down swinging.

That finally changed when catcher Chase Anderson thumped a two-out single down the first-base line in the top of the fourth, breaking up a most discouraging day at the plate for the Wolves.

South Whidbey, while finally dinged, struck right back, gunning down Anderson as he tried to steal second, then whiffing five more batters over the final two innings.

The second Central Whidbey hit came courtesy Camden Glover, and it was a beauty.

Hitting with two outs and no one aboard in the fifth, he cranked a shot to right field for a solid base-knock, then scampered to second on a passed ball while John Rachal was hitting.

Rachal smoked a shot on the next pitch, sending a skipper towards third, but South Whidbey’s defense was air-tight, and that was it for any hint of offense from the Wolves.

While it couldn’t generate any runs, Central Whidbey stayed in the game thanks to strong pitching and a couple of defensive gems.

South Whidbey scored in each of the first four innings, but couldn’t push across more than two runs in any frame.

Keeping things tamped down, the Wolves came up with back-to-back big plays in the field in the bottom of the second.

With two runners aboard and no one out, Central Whidbey thwarted a rally, thanks to Anderson making something out of nothing.

A pitch from Wolf hurler Landon Roberts got loose, but his catcher spun, chased down the ball, then whirled and pegged a near-perfect throw right into Glover’s mitt at third.

Ball kissed leather, the tag was slapped with precision, and what looked like a potential back-breaker of a play turned into a positive moment for Central Whidbey in about two blinks of an eye.

On the next play Jack Porter came crashing in from center field, went to his knees, then made a superb catch on a rapidly-falling ball which had extra bases written all over it.

Those plays, and a well-timed relay later in the game, which broke up a double steal and nailed an incoming runner at home, gave Wolf fans something to cheer about.

That, and effective work from a four-pack of pitchers.

Roberts carried the brunt of the workload, toeing the rubber through the first 2.1 innings, before Porter, Glover, and Anderson combined to share the final 2.2 frames.

All four Wolf pitchers recorded two strikeouts apiece, with Central Whidbey putting together a rare four-strikeout inning in the third.

Roberts and Porter split the K’s, but on the first one, the third strike got away from Anderson and the batter broke for first.

Once again the Wolf catcher made an alert, head-ups play, though this time he wasn’t rewarded.

Snatching up the bouncing ball, Anderson lunged and appeared to have tagged South Whidbey’s slugger from behind. But, after a long discussion, the game’s three umps declined to give him the call.

Now that they’re in the playoffs, the Wolves will likely be out-manned at every step along the way.

While South Whidbey has two teams to combine into one all-star squad, North Whidbey has four, and all the off-Island programs boast large talent pools, Central Whidbey has 11 players, total.

Aiden O’Neill, Johnny Porter, Marcelo Gebhard, Jordan Bradford, Alex Smith, and Jacob Schooley round out the Wolf roster.

Which doesn’t mean Central Whidbey has to go down without a fight. The key will be how big a fight it chooses to generate.

As the Wolves prepare for Wednesday’s game, their coaching staff wants to see a game-long effort which matches the intensity shown on that dropped third-strike play by their catcher.

“That’s what we talked about after the game,” Jon Roberts said. “They have to want this, they have to have that desire to win at all costs.

“They have to be willing to dive for every ball, hustle on every play, make some noise, show some life out there.”

And getting a few hits wouldn’t hurt, either.

 

South Whidbey’s unsung MVP:

While the future Falcons got stellar work from a wide variety of players, we’re honoring Alexander Zarifis, whose dad Steve is the South Whidbey coach.

The plucky younger Zarifis had the friendliest fan club of any rival player, plus he showed a laser-like focus while warming up a teammate in between innings.

Said fan club, led by older sister Caitlin, who appeared in many a production of The Nutcracker with Coupeville dance royalty like Skyy Lippo, did its best hootin’ and hollerin’ as Alexander worked next to the left field fence.

Eyes hidden behind his sun glasses, he was having none of it, however, whipping the ball back and forth, ignoring his family’s efforts to make him blush.

Kid’s a freakin’ Terminator, he is. Just the way his dad/coach probably likes it.

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The Central Whidbey Little League Majors baseball squad kicks off the district tourney in Oak Harbor next week.

Ready to dominate. (Carron Chernobieff photo)

Now it’s baseball’s turn.

With the Central Whidbey Little League Majors softball squad back home after making a run at the state tourney in Poulsbo, their hardball counterparts are set for their playoff debut.

The CWLL Majors baseball squad kicks off the district tournament Monday, June 8 at Windjammer Park in Oak Harbor.

The Wolves, who sit at 10-6 on the season, open the six-team double-elimination brawl against South Whidbey, while Anacortes plays Burlington.

Win Monday and Central faces tourney host North Whidbey June 9, while Sedro-Woolley awaits the survivor of Monday’s other game.

Lose their opener and the Wolves drop into the lower half of the bracket and play their second game June 10.

The tourney runs June 8-14, with games at 6 PM every day until Saturday, June 13, when the first game of the championship series goes at 2 PM.

If the final two teams standing each have one loss after that game, the finale on the 14th is also at 2 PM.

The winner claims the District 11 title banner, and punches a ticket to the state tournament.

 

Central’s roster:

1 – Alex Smith
3 – Aiden O’Neill
4 – Landon Roberts
5 – Chase Anderson
6 – Johnny Porter
7 – Jack Porter
8 – John Rachal
9 – Jordan Bradford
10 – Camden Glover
11 – Marcelo Gebhard
15- Jacob Schooley

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Whidbey Island baseball stars (l to r) Hunter Smith, James Besaw, and Joey Lippo will all be on the same college team next spring. (Teresa Besaw photo)

They’re getting the band back together.

Green River College is adding a fourth Whidbey Island grad to its baseball roster, with Oak Harbor’s James Besaw joining Coupeville alumni Hunter Smith, Joey Lippo, and CJ Smith.

The Smith brothers started the pipeline flowing, playing for the Gators this spring, while Lippo and Besaw, who grew up playing baseball together, will be newcomers to the Green River roster.

Besaw played this spring for the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, where he appeared in six games during his freshman season.

While he enjoyed his time on the East Coast, the first-baseman decided he wanted to play, and attend school, closer to home.

Back in town for the summer, he linked up with Lippo, who had decided to follow the Smith brothers to Green River, and the decision became an easy one.

“We checked out the campus last week and he liked it, so now we’re looking forward to these boys playing ball together again,” said very-happy mom Teresa Besaw.

Lippo and Besaw join a Green River team which went through a rebuilding season, while showing much promise for the future.

Hunter Smith started at second and short for the Gators, before a broken hand late in the year brought a premature end to his season.

Older brother CJ, who was also a college freshman, was Green River’s top relief pitcher.

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