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   Gavin Straub had a pair of singles Thursday as Coupeville’s JV baseball squad battled Klahowya to the final at-bat. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was a nail-biter. A barn-burner. A gut-wrencher.

Pick your superlatives, but the Coupeville and Klahowya JV baseball squads put together an audience-pleaser Thursday, even if, ultimately, only the Eagle fans went home truly satisfied.

Rallying from four runs down, then scoring the winner in the seventh, Klahowya edged the Wolves 7-6 on a rain-free Whidbey diamond.

The loss drops the Coupeville JV to 1-4 on the season.

For much of the afternoon, the Wolves looked to be in control.

Starting pitcher Daniel Olson was humming on the mound, holding Klahowya to just two hits and a single run through five innings.

During that time, the Wolf hitters racked up seven hits of their own and built what seemed like a comfortable 5-1 lead.

Coupeville got things started in the second, using singles from Gavin Straub and Johnny Carlson to plate the first run.

Unfortunately, the Wolves left two aboard in the inning, a small mistake which would come back to haunt them later in the game.

CHS added two runs apiece in the third and fifth, starting both rallies in the same way, with back-to-back one-out singles from Jered Brown and Olson.

In the third, both runners scampered home when Klahowya booted Shane Losey’s grounder, while in the fifth, the Wolves picked up tallies on an RBI ground-out by Mason Grove and a run-scoring double from Losey.

Things took a major change in the sixth, however, when the Eagles finally put together their first sustained rally.

Piling up three singles  around two Wolf errors and a hit batter, KSS plated five to roar all the way back into the lead, pushing dark clouds over the Coupeville dugout.

The Wolves had an immediate response, knotting the game back up at 6-6 in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to a timely two-out base-knock.

It came courtesy James Vidoni, whose single scored Ulrik Wells, essentially re-starting the game.

Klahowya was not to be denied, though, as it scratched out what proved to be the game-winner in the top of the seventh.

The Eagles got the most important run of the game without a single hit, using three walks and an error to send their seventh runner across the plate.

Coupeville kept the bleeding at a minimum thanks to nailing a different KSS runner at the plate on a throw from Losey to Grove.

The Wolves had a chance to send the game to extra innings, but, after walking to open the bottom of the seventh, Olson was stranded as the next three hitters went down.

Straub, Brown and Olson paced the Coupeville attack with two hits apiece, while Losey, Carlson and Vidoni each added a base-knock of their own.

CHS hurlers Olson, Brown and Carlson combined to whiff eight Eagles on the afternoon.

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Coupeville sophomore Gavin Straub. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

When Gavin Straub looks at a football field, he sees beneath the surface.

The Coupeville High School sophomore watches the play develop, and appreciates its many moving parts all working together to create one outcome.

“There is an intellectual element to football I really enjoy,” Straub said. “You must make many split-second decisions that influence the success of the current play, and ultimately the success of the game.

“Then, there is the fact that many split-second decisions made by about a dozen other people must complement each other in order for a play to be successful,” he added. “Now, all those small decisions must be made to directly counteract the other team’s actions.

“It can get very complicated, and I enjoy that a lot.”

Of course, then there’s the chance to hit people, too.

“There is a certain physical element to football that few other sports offer,” Straub said. “Football is a great outlet for physical contact.

“To be honest, high school can generate lots of negative emotions. Well, after a rough day, BAM, you get to go hit some people,” he added. “Football is a therapy in a special way.”

Straub is in his first season with the CHS squad, but his fifth year overall.

He started playing flag football in first grade (“My friends were playing at the time, so I was naturally attracted to the sport”), then made the jump to tackle football after two seasons.

“I decided I wanted to hit some people.”

When he came to CHS, current teammate Dawson Houston reached out to him and encouraged Straub to sign up for high school football, something he took him up on this year.

Straub played baseball for the Wolves as a freshman and decided it was time to add another sport to his to-do list.

“I enjoy both sports equally,” he said. “Baseball has some unique challenges that I enjoy. These mostly include techniques such as batting, or catching a ball hit into the outfield.”

With football, there is the balance between thinking about the game and reacting, and finding a balance between the two.

“I believe I have a solid understanding of the intellectual and strategic elements of football. I also like to think I am good at coming up with solutions on the fly quickly,” Straub said. “Both of these abilities can be of great service to you out on the field.

“A lot of the areas I need to work on are simply physical fundamentals,” he added. “Especially since I have switched positions to receiver/linebacker, after I have been playing line for four years. I have a lot to learn.

“Having a good understanding of the strategic elements of football doesn’t help you when you have trouble simply catching a ball thrown to you.”

As he goes forward, Straub is intent on mastering the different parts of being a gridiron warrior, bringing his skills up to mesh with his intellectual capabilities.

“My goal for this season are to master the fundamentals of being a receiver and a linebacker, and become competent at both positions,” he said. “As for my goals for my high school football career, I eventually want to become a key player on the football team.”

When he’s not hard at work on the field, Straub, whose favorite movie is the Disney classic “Wall-E,” is busy letting his brain carry him on new adventures.

He enjoys computer programming, building electronics and robots, creating games and studying biology (“our class may get to genetically modify bacteria this year”), and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.

Straub, who wants to get an engineering degree, has been working on a robotic arm he built.

“I’m working on getting the arm to be autonomously controlled right now,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to build something that will change the world.”

As he’s progressed through school, Straub has benefited from having teachers who have made a positive impact on him, something he deeply appreciates.

“My 4th/5th grade math and English teacher, Ms. Sather, taught me how to enjoy a challenge, both inside and outside of school,” Straub said. “Ultimately, I enjoy learning because of her.

“Also, my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Stroh,” he added. “When I was in kindergarten, I really didn’t have the skills to survive in a school environment, without her working tirelessly with me both in and out of the classroom.”

Through everything — classwork, sports, and real-life adventures — Straub knows he has two people he can always rely on to have his back.

“Well, there’s my mom and dad, who gave me confidence,” he said. “Without them, I probably wouldn’t have the confidence to stand up for myself or deal with tough situations as they pop up.

“A more recent example is joining the CHS football team,” Straub added. “Without their guidance, I probably wouldn’t have the courage or the confidence to sign up for the team.”

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