PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles Roughrider pitchers, aided by several outstanding defensive plays, got themselves out of jam after jam as the Riders held on for a tense 4-3 win over Kingston in a regular-season baseball finale at Civic Field on Monday.
The victory kept Port Angeles in second place at 10-4, a half-game behind North Kitsap (10-3) for the top 2A slot in the Olympic League. Bainbridge has won the league championship but will move on to 3A postseason. The Riders are gunning for a top eight finish in the district and now have to await postseason seeding. Port Angeles, 13-5-1 overall, is ranked No. 16 in Ratings percentage Index in the state, ahead of North Kitsap at No. 17.
The other good news for Port Angeles is North Kitsap’s last league game is against unbeaten Bainbridge, which is ranked No. 1 in the state in RPI at the 3A level (As an aside, Port Angeles nearly beat Bainbridge last week.).
So it appears likely the Riders will end up tied for first among 2A teams in the Olympic League. Port Angeles and North Kitsap split two games this year, with each team winning by one run.
The play featured a play at the plate by the Roughriders and a rundown in the final inning to tag out a runner trying to score the tying run.
“We have confidence in our defense,” said starting pitcher Kole Acker, who picked up the hard-earned win.
“Our defense bends but doesn’t break,” said Weston Alward, who had an RBI double.
“We were able to pitch with guys on base,” said coach Zac Moore. Moore and his players also credited closer Brian Guttormsen for getting two strikeouts in the top of the seventh to collect a very hard-earned save. There were a lot of passed balls with Guttormsen pitching that made the seventh inning interesting, but Moore said “he’s hard to catch. His ball has a lot of movement.”
The Riders got on board with a Tanner Jacobsen walk in the second inning, followed by a deep triple to center by Josiah Gooding. Blake Merideth followed with an RBI single to make it 2-0.
In the third inning, Elijah Flodstrom led off with a deep triple of his own, followed by an RBI double by Alward. Alward moved to third on a groundout and came in to score on a Gooding RBI single.
That finished the Port Angeles scoring. Meanwhile, the Bucs put pressure on the Riders pitchers and defense virtually every inning.
In the second inning, Kingston had runners at second and third base, but starting pitcher Kole Acker was able to get a groundout to end the threat.
In the fourth inning, the Bucs broke through for a couple of runs, after a single, a pair of Rider errors and a triple, but Port Angeles was able to get out of the inning without further damage after shortstop Alex Angevine snapped a sharp line drive and Acker was able to get the last out on a popup.
Again in the fifth with Flodstrom on the mound, Kingston threatened a big inning. The Bucs plated one runner on a wild pitch and had the tying run at third base with one out. Left fielder Merideth made a strong throw to the plate on a medium-deep fly ball to keep the runner at third. Flodstrom ended the threat with a strikeout.
In the sixth, Flodstrom walked the first two batters to get himself into a jam. After a strikeout, the Kingston baserunners were able to move up to second and third. On a passed ball, the Kingston baserunner on third tried to come home, but catcher Nate Basden got the ball to Flodstrom, who got the tag down for the out at home plate. Basden then got the final out on a popup.
Yet again in the seventh, the Bucs flooded the basepaths. Brian Guttormsen came in to pitch the seventh and struck out the leadoff hitter, but the pitch got past Flodstrom, who had moved to catcher, and the runner was safe at first.
Kingston got a stolen base and then a walk with the tying run at second and the go-ahead run at first with no outs. After a strikeout, another pitch got past Flodstrom and the Kingston runners moved up.
After the ball got behind Flodstrom again, the baserunner on third tried to score, but Flodstrom alertly pounced on the ball and got it to third basemen Gooding, who was able to chase down the Bucs player before he reached home plate.
After all that drama on the basepaths, the game ended almost anti-climatically with a harmless popup to shortstop Angevine.
Gooding finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Acker pitched four innings, allowing five hits, while striking out three. Flodstrom pitched two innings, allowing two hits while striking out three. Guttormsen finished with two strikeouts in his one inning of work.
It was the final home game for seniors Elijah Flodstrom, Merideth, Jacobsen, Acker and Alward.
Port Angeles 4, Kingston 3
King. 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 — 3 7 2
PA 0 2 2 0 0 0 x — 4 6 4
Port Angeles — Acker 4 IP, 5 H, 3 K; Flodstrom 2 IP, 2 H, R; Guttormsen IP, 2K.
Port Angeles — Gooding 2-3, 3B, R, 2 RBI; Flodstrom 1-2 3B, R, BB; Alward 1-2, 2B, RBI, R, BB; Merideth 1-3, RBI.