By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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When Sequim's Alexas Besand stepped to the plate with runners on first and third and no outs in the top of the fifth inning, Port Angeles' plan was to walk the power-hitting senior.
Instead, Besand hit a long three-run homer to right field that put the Wolves ahead 6-5 en route to an 8-5 win over the Roughriders in the district seeding tiebreaker at Dry Creek Elementary School on Friday.
Sequim will be the Olympic League's No. 1 seed at the West Central District tournament later this week and Port Angeles is the second seed.
“We made a mistake to Alexas Besand. We were trying to walk her and we got one too close,” Riders coach Randy Steinman said.
“So, we need to work on our pitch-outs.
“And good for her,” Steinman said of Besand. “She's a senior and a heck of a ball player.”
As Sequim's clean-up hitter, Besand doesn't get a lot of pitches to hit. So she has to savor those that venture near the strike zone.
“Recently, I've been struggling with the outside pitch and so I knew that [Port Angeles pitcher] Nizhoni [Wheeler] was going to pitch me there,” Besand said.
“So I just took advantage and I stuck my foot over and I hit it.
“It's kind of like a recurring event, whether it be me or somebody else in the past, we hit a home run at PA when we need it.”
Both teams took advantage of mistakes throughout the game.
Sequim's first run was scored by Olivia Kirsch, who reached in the first inning on a throwing error and later scored from second on a hit by Shelby Lott.
Port Angeles' four-run second inning started when Ashlee Reid reached on what was either an error or a bad call by the umpire when Wolves left fielder Melissa Lewis made a nice play to catch the blooper inches before it dropped for a hit.
As she brought her glove up, the ball dropped out and Reid was called safe.
“That looked like a catch to me,” McFarlen said after the game.
Alicia Howell and Tori Kuch both singled to load the bases for Wheeler, who drove in Reid with a long single that bounced off the left-field fence.
Alyssa Wetzler brought home pinch runners Genna Orr and Nikki Price with a single and Cara Cristion scored on a sacrifice by Carly Gouge to give the Riders a 4-2 lead.
Port Angeles added another run in the third when Reid scored from third on a wild pitch. Howell, however, got stuck in a rundown after trying to advance from first to third on the play for the second out of the inning.
The Wolves regained the lead with a four-run fifth.
Makayla Bentz reached on, yes, an error. She went to third on Kirsch's double and scored on a single by Lott.
Then came Besand's go-ahead homer.
Sequim added two insurance runs in the sixth.
Tia Bourm came home on a sacrifice by Lott. The Riders walked Besand and then inserted Sarah Steinman for Wheeler on the mound.
Mary Lu Clift got a hold of one of Steinman's first pitches for a double that scored Kirsch to make it 8-5 and close out the scoring.
Kirsch finished with two hits and three runs, Lott had two hits and drove in two runs and Bourm and Clift each added two hits.
“We came back from behind and I think that shows how strong of a team we really are,” Clift said.
“In the beginning of the season we had some troubles but we're definitely working through it and we're definitely improving as we go on in the season, which is where I'd like to have it happen.”
Howell, Kuch and Wheeler had two hits apiece for Port Angeles.
There was a lot on the line for the winner of Friday's tiebreaker game but not a lot to lose, so both teams wanted to win but neither was afraid of losing.
“You know, it's not that big of deal because we both draw byes, but seeding's everything and draw's everything [at the district tournament], so we'll just see,” McFarlen said.
Both teams' aces, Makayla Bentz for Sequim and Sarah Steinman for Port Angeles, were used as relievers as McFarlen and Randy Steinman elected to give big-game experience to a pair of younger pitchers against top-notch competition.
Sophomore McKenzie Bentz, the Wolves' starting catcher, earned the win by pitching four innings and allowing six hits.
Wheeler, a freshman, pitched 5 2/3 innings and struck out seven batters while giving up nine hits.
“It wasn't humongous,” Besand said of the win, “but for us it was pretty huge because they got us the first time [this season] so we wanted payback.
“And also having that first seed in districts is a really good spot to be.”
Sequim (17-3) will open the district tournament Friday at 2 p.m. against the winner between Bremerton (11-6) and Steilacoom (8-11) earlier in the day.
The Wolves defeated Bremerton twice this season in Olympic League play by scores of 4-1 and 9-0.
Port Angeles (14-5) plays either Franklin Pierce (12-7) or Renton (4-13), who will face off that morning.
The district tournament is played at Sprinker Recreation Center in Tacoma.
If the Wolves and Riders win their first games they will earn berths at the state tournament in Selah on Friday and Saturday, May 30-31.
Sequim 8, Port Angeles 5
Sequim 1 1 0 0 4 2 0 — 8 10 1
Port Angeles 0 4 1 0 0 0 0 — 5 9 2
WP- Mc. Bentz; LP- Wheeler
Sequim: Mc. Bentz 4 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, BB, K; Ma. Bentz 3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER.
Port Angeles: Wheeler 5 2/3 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 7 K.
Sequim: Besand 1-3, HR, 3 RBI; Clift 2-3, 2B, RBI; Kirsch 2-4, 2B, 3 R; Lott 2-4, R, 2 RBI; Bourm 2-4, R, RBI.
Port Angeles: Howell 2-3; Kuch 2-3; Wheeler 2-3, RBI; Wetzler 1-3, 2 RBI; Gouge 1-4, RBI.
Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.