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Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — It wasn’t pretty, but a sweep is a sweep.
Wilder Baseball took both ends of a doubleheader against Sequim U-18 at Civic Field, winning the opener 4-3 and taking the nightcap 8-1 as two pitchers combined for a no-hitter.
“We could have played a lot better,” Wilder coach Chad Wagner said.
“Am I satisfied with the way we played? No, not really. Am I going to take the two wins? Yes.”
In the first game, Wilder first baseman Larsson Chapman drove in a pair of runs and scored another, and catcher Marcus Konopaski was 1 for 2 at the plate with a run.
Michael Dean started the game on the mound for Wilder, and gave up three runs (one unearned) and two hits over four innings.
He walked three and struck out one.
It was a bit of a step back for the Forks High School graduate, when Dean racked up strikeouts.
“Control has kind of been an issue the last few times, but the last few times he’s had 10 or 12 strikeouts, so it compensates for it,” Wagner said.
Nick Johnston relieved Dean and allowed only one hit while fanning five.
“Nick came in and did a great job,” Wagner said.
“His attitude and composure are getting a hundred times better, and it’s just great to see him pitch.”
Johnston was aided by a few impressive catches by left fielder Brian DeFrang, who seemed to run down every hard-hit ball in the game’s later innings.
Sequim U-18 coach John Qualls was happy with the contact his young team made in both games.
“The bottom line is, they’re putting the bat on the ball, and that’s what I’m happy about so far,” he said.
“We’re just on that verge of breaking out. As long as we keep putting the bat on the ball, good things are going to happen.”
Qualls also praised the pitching of 15-year-old Nigel Christian, who went the distance for Sequim and held Wilder to four hits.
“He did a great job,” Qualls said.
“He’s coming a long way, he’s maturing.”
In the second game, Kyle Kelly and Jordan Shepard combined to pitch a no-hitter while receiving 10 hits of support from Wilder’s batters.
Kelly went five innings in his first outing of the season, striking out five and walking three.
He allowed one unearned run, which was scored by Sequim’s Karsten Wake on a passed ball.
Wagner liked what he saw from Kelly, who only recently rejoined Wilder after playing his senior season in Utah.
“I’ve never seen him throw [in a game before] . . . so it was kind of pleasant for me to see him,” Wagner said.
“I know the two bullpens I’ve seen him throw he’s hit every spot. He wasn’t really like that on the mound, and he showed a little bit too much emotion for my liking, so we’ll get that stuff worked out.”
Shepard also was a late addition to the Wilder roster, after returning to Port Angeles following a year in Nevada.
He walked three and struck out two batters.
Kelly helped out at the plate with two hits, a run and an RBI.
He drove in Kevin Herzog for Wilder’s first run in the third inning.
The next batter, Marcus Konopaski, brought home Brady Konopaski with a sacrifice fly to give Wilder a 2-1 lead.
Kelly and Chapman both scored on bases-loaded walks to finish off Wilder’s four-run third inning.
Brady Konopaski and Harry Goodrich also drove in runs.
With the two wins, Wilder is now 7-3 on the season, and has won six straight games.
“We still have a lot of work to do, this team still has a lot of coming together to do,” Wagner said.
“The dugout talk was bad. There was just a lot of nit-picky things that I didn’t like, that aren’t Wilder baseball.
“But they’ll figure it out. You know, after we do a little running [at practice], they’ll figure out.”
Wilder hosts Castle Rock for a three-game series on Saturday and Sunday at Civic Field.
Sequim U-18’s roster is packed with 14- to 16- year olds, and Qualls is pleased with how his team is progressing.
“I’m happy with where we’re at right now, I really am,” he said.
“We’re in a building year, to the max.”
Sequim travels to Seattle on Saturday for a doubleheader with Eastside.
Sports reporter Lee Horton can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.