EDITOR’S NOTE: The Port Angeles Roughriders beat Fife 3-2 in eight innings Saturday night to win the West Central District III 2A championship. More details in Monday’s sports section.
BREMERTON — Brody Merritt struck out 11 in six scoreless innings on the mound and Bo Bradow’s RBI single stood up at the plate as Port Angeles won a pitchers’ duel 1-0 over North Mason on Saturday to advance to the Class 2A West Central District Baseball Championship.
Hayden Woods closed the door with two more K’s in the seventh to preserve the win and earn the save for Port Angeles at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.
“We were able to keep punching and scratch a run across while playing a different style of ball than we are accustomed to,” Riders coach Karl Myers said. “But we’ve shown we can play this style before [in 3-2 and 2-1 wins over North Kitsap].
“Games like that, Coach [Jim] Clem always says one-run games are his favorite because every pitch matters and every play matters. Our kids did a good job of not trying to do too much but played aggressively offensively and conservatively defensively.”
The Riders played Fife/River Ridge for the title late Saturday.
Against the Bulldogs, Merritt improved to 8-0 on the season on the hill and lowered his ERA to 0.72 with the win.
“Brody and Hayden just pitched lights out,” Myers said.
“[Merritt] was throwing strikes, that was the biggest thing. He only had one walk and hit a couple of guys. His fastball was firm today going down hill and they couldn’t square it up. His breaking ball was on and they were off balance for six innings.
“And Hayden came on and slammed the door in the seventh.”
Merritt outdueled North Mason’s Brenden Kimball who limited the Riders to just three hits, two by Ethan Flodstrom, along with four walks and two hits batters.
“That was the first time we’ve seen Brenden Kimball this season and he showed why he is one of the best pitchers in the league,” Myers said. “He finished the season with a 0.5 ERA, shut out White River [earlier in the tournament] and was hitting the mid-to-upper 80s and was effectively dangerous enough with his breaking stuff to keep us off balance.”
Port Angeles broke through in the third when leadoff hitter Joel Wood opened the inning with a walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gavin Guerrero and moved to third on a Flodstrom line drive single to center.
Bo Bradow’s pop fly to center field dropped in, scoring Wood on what turned out to be the game winner.
“Joel walked and Ethan had a single and that got it going,” Myers said.
“Bo did a good job of fighting one off and he hit a tweener ball that the runner couldn’t tag up on, but the ball dropped in there and we got the run.
“It was a good [at-bat] fighting pitches off and finally punching one out there.”
Myers also said Wyatt Hall and Wood made some smart plays defensively to help the cause.
Port Angeles (18-4) will open the Class 2A state tournament Saturday at 10 a.m. at either Auburn High School or Daniels Field in Anacortes.
Port Angeles 1, North Mason 0
NM 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 6 1
PA 0 0 1 0 0 0 X— 1 3 1
WP: Merritt LP: Kimball SV: Woods
North Mason — Kimball 6IP, 3H, ER, 4BB, 2HB, 7K.
Port Angeles — Merritt 6IP, 5H, 0R, BB, 2HB, 11K; Woods IP, H, 0R, 0BB, 2K.
Port Angeles — Bradow 1-3, RBI; Flodstrom 2-3; Wood 0-1, BB, HBP, R.