BASEBALL: Firecracker Classic begins today in Port Angeles
Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Wilder shortstop Dan Harker, top, straddles the basepath as Olympic's Jason Eberhart steals second last month. Harker and Wilder Junior open the Firecracker Classic against Sandberg Baseball.
By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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Firecracker Classic ScheduleToday
Sandberg Baseball (Olympia) vs. Wilder Junior, 4 p.m.
Wilder Senior vs. Wilder Junior, 7 p.m.
Klahowya (Silverdale) vs. Sandberg, 10 a.m.
Klahowya vs. Oak Harbor, 1 p.m.
Wilder Junior vs. Oak Harbor, 4 p.m.
Sandberg vs. Wilder Senior, 7 p.m.
Oak Harbor vs. Sandberg, 10 a.m.
Wilder Junior vs. Klahowya, 1 p.m.
Wilder Senior vs. Klahowya, 4 p.m.
Oak Harbor vs. Wilder Senior, 7 p.m.
Third Place vs. Fourth Place, 1 p.m.
Championship Game: First Place vs. Second Place, 4 p.m.
Wilder Junior will open the five-team tournament against Sandberg Baseball, which is coached by Port Angeles High School graduate Eric Lane, at 4 p.m. at Civic Field.
Then Wilder Junior and Wilder Senior face off at 7 p.m. in the first, and possibly only, battle of the season between the area program's two teams.
Also competing in the tournament are Klahowya Legion and Oak Harbor.
Each team will face each other once in pool play, which runs through Saturday, with the top four teams advancing to play Sunday.
The third-place and fourth-place teams face off Sunday at 1 p.m., while the top two teams battle for the Firecracker championship at 4 p.m.
After winning 12 of the first 13 Firecracker Classics, Wilder has come up empty the last two seasons, taking third in 2012 and losing to Ellensburg 13-9 in last year's championship game.
“It's been a tradition for 16 years,” Wilder Senior coach Mike Politika said of the tournament.
“The kids definitely always look forward to it . . . and they want to bring the trophy back to Wilder.”
Other than Wilder Junior, Politika isn't familiar with the other teams, but said Wilder Senior (15-3) still has its sights set high.
“We expect to go in and win the trophy. It's our tournament,” Politika said.
Here is a run-down of the participating teams, including players to watch:
■ Wilder Senior: P Nick Johnston (Sequim, signed to play at Edmonds Community College), P Travis Paynter (Port Angeles), OF Brett Wright (Sequim), SS Brady Konopaski (Port Angeles), 1B Larsson Chapman (Port Angeles).
Wilder, which has already won two tournaments this season, boasts a deep pitching staff that is led by Johnston and Paynter, but is capable of receiving strong outings from others, such as Tanner Rhodefer (Sequim), Olympic College-commit Jordan Shepherd (Port Angeles), James Grubb (Sequim) and Ryan Mudd (Port Angeles).
■ Wilder Junior: P Nigel Christian (Sequim), SS Danny Harker (Sequim), C Alex Morris (Chimacum), P/INF Adam Iseri-Fuji (Port Angeles).
Wilder's junior squad took second at the Anacortes Wood Bat Tournament last weekend. It will get a shot at revenge for its championship game loss when it faces Oak Harbor on Friday at 4 p.m.
In the title game, Christian, who will be a junior next year, was spectacular, striking out 12 and allowing only three hits in seven innings.
■ Sandberg: UTL Clayton Boze (Tumwater, signed to play at Saint Martin's), C/1B Henry Coates (Black Hills, signed with Arizona Christian University), SS Brady Jones (Shelton), CF/P Cody Marganelli (Curtis).
Head coach Eric Lane said the Firecracker Classic will be the first time his team will be playing with metal bats.
“It will be different,” Lane said, “but not better or worse.”
■ Klahowya: 2B Jake Zieser, SS/P Tanner Zuber (Klahowya), CF/P Brandon Mikelborg (Klahowya).
Mikelborg earned Olympic League Second Team honors as an outfielder for the Klahowya Eagles this season, while Zuber received honorable mention.
■ Oak Harbor: Coming off a championship win in the Anacortes Wood Bat Tournament.
Last modified: July 02. 2014 6:22PM