SEQUIM — Freshman pitcher LeeAnn Raney had her rise ball working, limiting Port Angeles to just three hits and striking out eight, as Sequim shut down the Roughriders’ potent offense in a 4-0 shutout Friday evening.
It was the first time in 92 games Port Angeles was held scoreless, dating back to a 1-0 district tournament loss to Fife on May 22, 2015.
The Roughriders came into Friday’s game averaging more than 10 runs per outing on the season but the Wolves weren’t shaken, displaying an edge in enthusiasm and more importantly, execution, from the first inning on.
“When we played them the first time [Port Angeles head coach Randy Steinman] knew right off the bat we were flat,” Sequim coach Tim Lusk said. “I told the girls going into the game we are a more mature team than we were three or four weeks ago and player for player we can stay right with them.”
“That was probably one of the best games we’ve played. They just clicked together [and] were solid. My pitcher was…she did really good. The last time we played them, she had a good outing but they just pounded us [in a 10-1 Riders’ win]. But I’ve been working with her, she’s listening and it’s really paying off.”
Trouble loomed quickly as Raney allowed a single to Riders’ leadoff hitter Hope O’Connor to open the game and O’Connor moved to third on a throwing error on the play.
But Reaney bore down and struck out two batters and ended the inning by forcing a ground out to strand O’Connor and pick up a little confidence. She walked four and hit a batter, but the Wolves’ defense backed her up and held down Port Angeles.
“Yeah, it was insane,” Raney said. “My rise ball was working better than it has in a long time and I just felt more confident. Normally, I’m not [as confident] when I’m on varsity because I’m a freshman and I don’t want to let anybody down.”
Lusk said Raney let him know she was feeling good before the game.
“When they are warming up I ask my pitchers what’s their bread and butter? And she said her rise ball was working, so we fed around that. PA is one of the best hitting teams in the league.”
Steinman rued missing out on that initial scoring chance.
“We had an opportunitity in the first inning, have the leadoff runner on third with no out and the number two and three hitters coming up and we can’t even put the ball in play,” Steinman said. “You’d think that we’d get something out of that situation. That can change a whole ball game [going ahead early].”
Sequim took advantage, plating three runs in their half of the first frame, all with two outs.
Bobbi Sparks walked, moved to third on a two-out single by Jayla Julmist and after Lili Fili was hit by a pitch to load the bases, scored on a wild pitch.
Kiana Robideau followed with a two-run single to center.
Port Angeles’ best chance to score came in the third inning.
The Riders loaded the bases when Kiana Watson-Charles singled, O’Connor was hit by a pitch and Zoe Smithson walked.
But Reaney struck out Madi Roening and got the better of Aeverie Politika in a marathon at-bat that saw Politika foul off multiple pitches with two strikes before eventually flying out to end the threat.
“She threw well, we only got three hits off her,” Steinman said. “We hit a couple hard ones right at people and that happens and they made the plays. We made some mistakes and it cost us. Mental mistakes and a couple of physical mistakes and if you don’t score you aren’t going to win the game, that’s the bottom line.”
The Wolves added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on a Raney sacrifice fly that brought home Fili.
“Not only did LeeAnn pitch great, she had a good at bat and got that last run, that insurance for us,” Lusk said.
Raney walked pinch hitter Peyton Rudd to open the seventh, opening the door for a Riders’ rally, but she soon slammed it shut, striking out Ella Holland, getting O’Connor to line out to shortstop and striking out Smithson to end the game.
“Even in the last inning I told the girls Randy will pull anything out to score some runs, I have seen it, so I have utter respect for that guy,” Lusk said.
Steinman praised his players for some solid play defensively, and credited Sequim on the win.
“Madi had another great day out there [in right field],” he said. “We did some great things, we went backdoor on the bunt to get them [out on a double play] and Zoe [at catcher] threw a runner out at third. We did some good things, I just tip my hat to Sequim. They beat us, we didn’t beat ourselves, they beat us.”
The result further muddies the waters of the Olympic League playoff chase with four teams remaining in the running for the league title.
North Kitsap (7-1, 9-3) is in first place with a loss to Port Angeles.
Olympic (4-1, 9-3) sits second having lost to North Kitsap and beaten the Riders.
Port Angeles (4-2, 5-5) is third and Sequim (5-3, 7-4) fourth, having lost to North Kitsap and Olympic.
Sequim 4, Port Angeles 0
PA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 3 2
SEQ 3 0 0 0 0 1 x — 4 7 1
WP: Raney LP: Watson-Charles
Port Angeles — Watson-Charles 6 IP, 3R, 7H, 3BB, HB.
Sequim — Raney 7 IP, 0R, 3H, 4BB, HB, 8K.
Port Angeles — O’Connor 1-2, BB, HBP; Watson-Charles 1-2; Cargo-Acosta 1-3; Rudd BB.
Sequim — K. Robideau 2-3, RBI; Sparks 1-1,R, BB; Julmist 1-2, R, BB; Fili 2-2, HB, R,; Grubb 1-3, L. Robideau 1-3; Raney 0-2, BB, RBI, SF.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]