SPORTS: Sequim beats archrival Port Angeles in extra-inning thriller, wins Olympic League title

SEQUIM — There will be no sharing this season.

The Sequim softball team claimed an outright Olympic League crown with a dramatic 7-6 victory over Port Angeles in extra innings Thursday.

Bailey Rhodefer scored the game-winning run from second base after Port Angeles third baseman Kelsey Hinsdale’s throw on a Cindy Miller sacrifice bunt attempt sailed wide of first base in the bottom of the eighth inning.

The Sequim sophomore was mobbed by teammates as she crossed home plate, touching off a wild celebration of the team’s first outright league title in five years.

“From day one I knew we would win the whole thing,” said Rhodefer, who led off the inning with a single.

“We have so much talent on our team.”

Last year, Sequim finished in a two-way tie with North Mason for the league crown, forcing a one-game playoff for the top Class 2A seed to districts that it ultimately lost.

There will be no need for that this time around.

Not after the Wolves (15-0 in league, 18-0 overall) survived a wild back-and-forth affair that saw the lead change hands five times before everything was said and done.

“I think this is huge for us going into the playoffs,” said first-year Sequim head coach Joel Lewis, whose team has handed Port Angeles its only two losses of the season. “It just pushes us in the right momentum towards our ultimate goal, which is reaching state and winning state.

“These girls are able to execute plays in pressure situations. Some teams fall apart. We just stick together and make it happen.”

The Roughriders (14-2 in league and overall) held the lead as late as the bottom of the seventh inning before giving it away.

That’s when Maddy Zbaraschuk led off the frame with a fly ball down the right field line the got caught up in the wind and landed just out of reach of right fielder Meleny Fors.

The Sequim senior took off around the bases and was waved home by Lewis at third after Fors’ errant throw missed the cut off.

“I was thinking maybe a double at most,” Zbaraschuk said of the hit.

“I kept looking at Mama Joe, and I saw [Rider catcher] Hannah [Wahto] go up for the block [at home] and I outside slid and there I was; it was good.”

Sequim starter Demiree Briones then put down the Riders in order in the top of the eighth, setting up the late dramatics from Rhodefer and company.

“I was just thinking, get on base anyway you can. Even if I had to get beaned, just get on and score,” Rhodefer said of her last plate appearance, part of a 2-for-4 day.

“It feels really good to win that kind of game. We actually had to fight.”

Briones pitched all eight innings to earn the win for the Wolves, striking out four while giving up five walks, nine hits and six runs (five were earned).

The junior right-hander pitched out of several jams while stranding seven Rider base runners.

And with Port Angeles pitching around Zbaraschuk and Lea Hopson much of the game — they had five walks between them — Briones also made Port Angeles pay with a 3-for-4 day at the plate that included four RBIs.

“If we had an open base, we were going to pitch around [Hopson],” Rider coach Buddy Bear said.

“We were not going to let her hurt us.”

The Riders did touch up Briones for two home runs, including a solo shot from Port Angeles counterpart Stacy Webb in the top of the sixth that knotted the game at five.

Wahto — 2-for-3 with four RBIs, a double and a two-run homer — drove in the go-ahead run later in the inning with a bases-loaded walk.

Briones then got Port Angeles’ clean-up hitter, Hinsdale, to ground out to second, ending the threat.

Three fielding mistakes later in the final two innings — including a misplayed ground ball from shortstop Mariah Frazier in the eighth — and the Riders were sent home with a loss.

“We have to learn from this,” Bear said. “That’s the hard part about sports.

“People say you learn from sports, well, no one likes losing. But you know what? I think we both have taken our programs up to the next step [with Thursday’s game].”

Webb submitted a game performance of her own on the mound, going seven-plus innings for the loss.

The Rider senior struck out 11 Sequim batters while giving up five walks, 10 hits and seven runs (six of which were earned).

Of course, her high walk total was also the product of the team’s strategy in regards to Hopson, who received three intentional free passes.

When Webb finally did pitch to Sequim’s prolific power hitter with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, she struck her out swinging.

“To strike out 11 Sequim kids, that’s huge,” Bear said.

“And the last one was a strikeout to Lea Hopson. Who does that? That’s why [Webb] is who she is.

“She’s carried us by herself these last three years.”

The Riders will enter next weekend’s 2A sub-district tournament as the Olympic’s No. 2 seed.

That gives them the chance at the Nos. 5-8 seeds to the 2A Bi-District tournament a week later.

The Wolves will play for one of the West Central District’s top four seeds into the 2A Bi-District.

After winning their first extra-inning game of the season — only their third contest all spring that lasted more than six innings — they will surely come in battle tested.

“I was really happy with the way we executed when we were under pressure,” Zbaraschuk said.

“I’m glad we had a game like this before we went to sub-districts and districts.”

Sequim 7, Port Angeles 6 (8 inn.)

Port Angeles 1 0 2 0 1 2 0 0 ­— 6 9 3

Sequim 2 0 2 0 1 0 1 1 — 7 10 1

WP- Briones; LP- Webb

Pitching Statistics

Port Angeles: Webb 7+IP, 10H, 5BB, 6ER, 11K.

Sequim: Briones 8IP, 9H, 5BB, 5ER, 4K.

Hitting Statistics

Port Angeles: Wahto 2-3 (2B, HR, 4RBI, R); Webb 1-4 (HR); Loghry 2-4 (R); Fors 1-3 (2B, BB, 2R); Frazier 1-4 (BB, R, SB).

Sequim: Briones 3-4 (2B, 4RBI); Rhodefer 2-4 (R); Hopson 0-1 (3BB, 4SB, 3R); M. Zbaraschuk 1-2 (3B, 2BB, 2R); R. Zbaraschuk 2-5 (3SB, R); Besand 2-4.

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