By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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Wilder Senior 4-0
Oak Harbor 3-1
Wilder Junior 1-3
Oak Harbor 9, Sandberg 4
Wilder Junior 5, Klahowya 1
Wilder Senior 8, Klahowya 1
Wilder Senior 10, Oak Harbor 2
That removed most of the meaning from their matchup in the final game of pool play at the 16th annual Dick Brown Memorial Firecracker Classic.
So, Wilder coach Mike Politika changed things up for Saturday's nightcap at Civic Field.
“We normally play small ball, and today I let the guys play,” Politika said.
“You know, I just wanted them to get at-bats.
“There were situations where we probably would have bunted guys over and done that, but I wanted to see guys get at-bats and swing it.
“We wanted to win the game, but it wasn't a necessity. We were just trying some things and some of it worked and some of it didn't.”
Wilder shortstop Brady Konopaski enjoyed being unleashed.
“Yeah, it's way better,” Konopaski said. “Bunting is a great thing in baseball, but no one ever likes to bunt.
“I mean, it's definitely how you win games sometimes, but you can definitely win with hitting and that's what we did tonight.”
Konopaski was 2 for 3 with a double, three runs and two RBIs. He opened the scoring in the top of the first inning by driving in leadoff hitter Dusty Bates with a double down the left-field line.
Konopaski took third on a miscue, one of four by Oak Harbor in the first two innings, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Johnston to make it 2-0 for Wilder.
Johnston, the designated hitter, walked in his next three plate appearances and finished with two runs and two RBIs without having an official at-bat.
In the bottom of the first inning, Wilder kept Oak Harbor off the scoreboard with some nifty fielding by Konopaski and second baseman Zach Withrow.
Withrow made a diving snag and throw to first for the first out, and then backed up an overthrow to prevent runners from advancing.
Then with runners at the corners and two outs, Konopaski made a nice diving stop and threw out Oak Harbor's Danny Wolfe to end the inning.
“I dive, and I didn't think I had it; I tried to stand up and I felt the ball in my glove, so I picked it up and threw it,” Konopaski said.
“And the kid wasn't running because he thought it was already through, and it ended up being an out.
“It was pretty sweet.”
Travis Paynter led off the second inning with the first of his three singles in the game.
Jordan Shepherd and Ryan Mudd reached on errors to load the bases with one out, but all three runners were stranded after flyouts by Tanner Rhodefer and Dusty Bates.
Wilder starter Shepherd retired all three batters in the bottom of the second, two by strikeout and one by fielding a grounder and throwing the runner out.
Wilder then added three more runs in the third inning to push its lead to 5-0.
Konopaski and Johnston were both hit by pitches from Oak Harbor starter Chad Spradlin to start the inning.
Larsson Chapman brought in Konopaski from second with a single and Paynter singled down the left-field line to score Johnston and Chapman.
Oak Harbor scored twice in its half of the third. Dyllan Bailey came home on a balk and Kevin Johnson scored on a wild pitch by Shepherd.
Neither team scored again until the final inning.
Wilder had a few opportunities that were undone by base running errors, which irked Politika.
“We need to have better base running,” he said.
Oak Harbor seemed on the verge of cutting into Wilder's 5-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth, putting two runners on with no outs and then loading the bases with two outs.
But Shepherd quashed the rally attempt by striking out Johnson to end the inning.
“I think he did OK,” Politka said of Shepherd. “He competed really well.
“He had quite a few innings where he was in a jam, and he pitched his way out of it.
“He gutted up and had a good performance.”
Shepherd went six innings, striking out eight while walking six and allowing two runs.
He left with a 5-2 lead. By the time James Grubb took the mound for an inning of relief, Wilder's lead had ballooned to 10-2.
Eathen Boyer and Rhodefer walked to open the seventh, prompting Oak Harbor coach Kyle Isaacson to lift Spradlin and bring in Quentin Tungate from left field to pitch.
Bates singled off Tungate to load the bases and then Boyer scored on an infield single by Konopaski.
Johnston walked to score Rhodefer and Chapman walked to bring in Bates, making it 8-2.
Tungate was replaced by Bailey, who struck out Tanner Gochnour before Curan Bradley singled home Konopaski and Johnston scored when Grubb was walked.
In the bottom of the seventh, Grubb walked the first batter he faced, but then retired three straight to end the game.
If nothing else, Saturday's game was a testament to the depth of Wilder's pitching staff, as Politika was able to send a pitcher of Shepherd's caliber to the mound for the team's fourth game in three days.
Politika also got every Wilder player in the game, other than starter Brett Wright, who was given the game off.
Wilder Senior was the only team to make it through pool play unbeaten. It also beat Klahowya 8-1 earlier Saturday.
Oak Harbor, meanwhile, is playing in its third tournament championship game in three weekends. It won the previous two, including last week when it edged Wilder Junior 1-0 in the Anacortes Wood Bat Tournament.
The Wilder junior team survived to see the final day of the Firecracker Classic by beating Klahowya 5-1 on Saturday.
Wilder Junior faces Sandberg in the third-place game.
Wilder 10, Oak Harbor 2
Wilder 2 0 3 0 0 0 5 — 10 10 1
Oak Harbor 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 — 2 5 4
WP- Shepherd; LP- Spradlin
Wilder: Shepherd 6 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 ER; Grubb IP, BB.
Oak Harbor: Spradlin 6+ IP, 7 H, 6 BB, 7 R, 6 ER, K; Tungate 0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 ER; Bailey IP, H, BB, K.
Wilder: Paynter 3-3, 2 RBI; Konopaski 2-3, 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI; Johnston 0-0, 3 BB, 2 R, 2 RBI; Chapman 1-3, R, 2 RBI; Bates 1-4, 2 R; Gochnour 1-4, 2B; Boyer 1-1, R; Bradley 1-1, RBI.
Oak Harbor: Stewart 1-1, SB; Wolfe 2-4; Bailey 0-0, 3 BB, R; Doughty 1-4; Johnson 1-4, R.