By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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A 5-0 overall record in the tournament earned the host team its first Firecracker title since 2011.
“Just a great job, a great tournament,” Wilder coach Mike Politika said.
“We came out and met our goal, which was to win another tournament, and we played well doing it.
“I thought we hit the ball well, pitched well and kept it rolling.”
Lefty Tanner Rhodefer started on the mound for Wilder (20-3) and allowed two runs on five hits with five strikeouts in six innings of work.
After retiring Oak Harbor leadoff hitter Kevin Johnson on a ground out, Rhodefer struggled with his control early in the game, including walking Anthony Stewart on four straight pitches.
When Stewart took off for second on a steal attempt during the next at bat, Wilder catcher Brett Wright fired a strike to shortstop Brady Konopaski who had ample time to apply a stylish tag.
Rhodefer then battled Clay Doughty to a full count before yielding a second straight walk.
He followed that by hitting Oak Harbor starting pitcher Danny Wolfe with a pitch before settling down to catch Trent Benson looking at a called third strike on the outside corner of the plate.
Wilder then put together a string of hits and took advantage of accuracy issues from Wolfe to go up 3-0 after one inning.
Konopaski legged out an infield single to get things going for Wilder.
Wright followed with a single up the middle and Larsson Chapman lined the first pitch he saw to right field to load the bases.
Konopaski then scored Wilder's first run on a Wolfe wild pitch.
Designated hitter Nick Johnston hit into a fielder's choice at third base but the throw home from Oak Harbor's Benson sailed over the plate to score Wright.
“They gave us a few runs,” Politika said. “It's always a bonus when you get a free run here and there.”
Travis Paynter then slapped a sacrifice fly to left field to score Chapman to give Wilder the 3-0 lead.
Rhodefer got some defensive help in getting out of a runners-at-the-corners situation with one out in the top of the third, when Wolfe to hit into a 5-4-3 double play, expertly turned by Paynter at third to Ryan Mudd at second base and along to Chapman at first.
Wilder added two more runs in the bottom of the third to go ahead 5-0.
Chapman doubled deep to the right field wall and later scored on a Paynter double driven to the 355 feet sign in the left-center gap.
Tanner Gochnour brought Paynter home by lacing a double over the head of the Oak Harbor left fielder to make it 5-0.
“We swung the bat real well today,” Politika said. “We saw an awful lot of off-speed pitches but we stayed inside the ball and hit it well.”
Rhodefer helped himself out in the bottom of the fourth, reaching on an infield single between short and third and then stealing second base.
A Konopaski groundout moved Rhodefer to third base.
Wright drew a free pass with a walk, and an overthrow on his steal of second base allowed Rhodefer to come home for Wilder's sixth run.
After allowing just one hit and no runs through five innings, Rhodefer tired in the sixth inning, and allowed four straight hits to open the frame.
“Yeah, he was getting tired, he was about gassed,” Politika said.
“But he really battled and got out of there without too much damage.”
Doughty doubled to the gap in right field and reached third on a double by Noah Zuniga.
A Benson RBI single brought Doughty home and a lined shot into left field by Quinten Tungate brought Zuniga home to cut the score to 6-2 with no outs.
Rhodefer recorded an out on a sacrifice bunt and then struck out Oak Harbor's Robert Herring and Dyllan Bailey to end the threat.
Wilder tacked on their final run in the home half of the sixth when Jordan Shepherd doubled to right-center field to score Konopaski, who had reached base on an error and stolen second earlier in the inning.
Mudd pitched the final inning for Wilder. He allowed a Stewart double but caught Zuniga looking for a strikeout to end the game.
Wilder's junior team finished fourth in the Firecracker Classic after losing 12-4 to Sandberg, a team coached by former Port Angeles High School standout Eric Lane, in Sunday's third/fourth-place game.
The Wilder Senior and Junior teams will resume hosting duties this Thursday, when the Senior Babe Ruth state tournament comes to Civic Field.
Wilder Senior 7, Oak Harbor 2
Oak Harbor 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 -— 2 6 3
Wilder 3 0 2 1 0 1 x — 7 9 1
WP- Rhodefer; LP- Wolfe
Wilder: Rhodefer 6 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, HBP, 5 K; Mudd IP, H, K.
Oak Harbor: Wolfe 3 IP, 5 R 6 H; Johnson 3 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 3 BB, 2 K.
Wilder: Paynter 1-3, 2B, sac fly, 2 RBI, R; Gochnour 1-2, 2B, RBI; Chapman 2-3, 2B, BB, R; Shepherd 1-1, 2B, RBI; Johnston, RBI;
Oak Harbor: Benson 1-3, RBI, Tungate 1-3 RBI; Doughty 2B, R; Zuniga 1-1, 2B, R.