SPORTS: Wilder Baseball loses heartbreaker to national power Cape Cod in World Series, now 1-1

WEIMAR, Texas — Wilder Baseball picked up its first loss in World Series play but it was a pitchers’ duel against one of the top returning teams Sunday morning.

National powerhouse Cape Cod, Mass., which captured third place in last year’s Babe Ruth 16-18 World Series and is playing in the ultimate tournament for the fourth time in five years, nipped Wilder 3-1.

Wilder is in good shape, however, by opening with a crucial 7-6 win against Lansing, Ill., on Saturday morning for a 1-1 National Division pool record.

Easton Napiontek, Cole Uvila and Brady Konopaski of Port Angeles, and Port Townsend’s Kyle Kelly were stars in Saturday’s win.

A defining moment came, though, when Wilder showed that it can play inning-for-inning with national juggernaut Cape Cod.

Cape Cod (29-5), the New England regional champion, opened its tourney play against Wilder (24-11) and sits atop of the standings at 1-0.

Wilder now has an important game against Mid County, Texas — the Southwest regional champion — today at 11:30 a.m. (PDT).

Mid County a winner

Mid County has a 1-0 record after beating fellow Texas team, Eagle Pass, 5-1 on Saturday.

Eagle Pass — the Southern Texas state champion — is one of only three teams returning from last year’s World Series. Cape Cod and Onondaga, N.Y., are the other two.

Onondaga has shown it has to be reckoned with after starting off 2-0 in pool play, which includes a 4-3 win against Modesto, Calif., which came in the tourney with a 29-1 record.

Despite getting the Cape Cod game out of the way, it doesn’t get any easier for Wilder.

“All the teams here are pretty good,” Wilder manager Rob Merritt said. “I have been watching them play, and there are no weak teams.”

Wilder concludes pool play against Eagle Pass at 2:30 p.m. (PDT) on Tuesday. A split in the final two games should advance Wilder to championship play, which starts Thursday.

A sweep in its final two games would give Wilder second in the National Division.

In Sunday’s game, Cape Cod threw ace Mike Molta against Wilder.

Molta, who will be a college sophomore this fall at Westfield State, was named the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference rookie of the year with a 1.73 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 52 innings out of Westfield’s bullpen.

Wilder managed just two hits against Molta, who threw 88 through 92 mph the whole game while striking out 10 in seven innings.

“He’s the best pitcher we have faced all year,” Merritt said.

Wilder stayed in the game, though, thanks to Uvila throwing for the North Olympic Peninsula team.

Uvila scattered five hits while fanning four batters against a team loaded with college-experienced players.

“Cole pitched a great game,” Merritt said.

“On a normal day, we win this game. It’s a shame to waste that kind of pitching performance.”

Thanks to Napiontek, Molta didn’t get a shutout.

The big 6-foot-8 first baseman, outfielder and ace pitcher, knocked one of Molta’s fastballs out of the park for a solo home run in the first inning to give Wilder a 1-0 lead.

Cape Cod went ahead with two runs in the third and an insurance run in the fourth.

Wilder’s only other hit of the game came from Larsson Chapman, who as a high school junior is 3 years younger than Molta.

Chapman went 1 for 2 in the game.

Molta walked just two and Cape Cod had no errors to give Wilder no scoring opportunities in the game.

Ironically, Cape Cod is playing short-handed after losing three Division I players just before the World Series started.

Starting catcher Bobby Melley and pitchers Willie Nastasi and Jed Robinson, who all received baseball scholarships to play for the University of Connecticut, are missing the Series because they had to report early to UConn.

That doesn’t seem to be slowing the team down.

On Saturday, ace Napiontek started on the mound against Lansing.

Napiontek threw a strong game despite giving up five runs to the Ohio Valley regional champions.

The power pitcher was named the player of the game by World Series officials for his play both behind the mound and at the plate.

“Easton pitched a great game,” Merritt said.

“He pitched out of a lot of jams. The strike zone was really tight. He threw a ton of close pitches [that would have been called strikes by another umpire].”

Because of the small strike zone, the team combined for 13 walks, Lansing giving up seven and Wilder giving free passes to six.

Napiontek threw the first five innings, Michael Dean of Forks pitched 2/3 of an inning and Kelly (7-1) earned the win as he threw the final 1 1/3 innings.

Napiontek also led at the plate as he went 2 for 4, scoring two runs and earning an RBI.

The two teams were tied 6-6 going into the fateful sixth inning when Wilder scored the winning run.

Uvila started the rally off with a single and an out later Kelly moved Uvila to third with a single.

Then Brady Konopaski laid down a perfect safety squeeze to score Uvila.

That left it up to Kelly, who kept Lansing scoreless in the top of the seventh, to secure the victory.

Another big hit came from George Marinan, who smacked a bases-loaded triple in the third inning to help give Wilder a 4-1 lead.

Both Marinan and Uvila went 2 for 3 in the game while Justin Straight was 1 for 2 with an RBI-double.

Despite with preparing for the heat, Wilder is struggling with the Texas heat and humidity.

Wilder opened play both on Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. (CDT) but couldn’t escape the 90-plus degree heat.

“We were dying out there the first day [Saturday],” Merritt said.

“Especially from the fifth inning on. I looked up at the temperature in the fifth and it said 94 degrees.

“Kids were throwing up and cramping.

“We handled it better today [Sunday]. It was still hot but the game went faster. It was so humid.”

It was 90 degrees on the field Sunday.

It will only get worse as the time for Wilder games move back into the afternoon today and Tuesday.

The Pacific Northwest regional champions play today at 1:30 p.m. (CDT) and at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“The hottest part of the day here is from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m..” Merritt said.

That’s not good news for Wilder players, who take on two Texas teams on their home field and in their home heat the next two days.

Pool Play

Wilder (1-0) 7, Lansing, Ill., (0-1) 6

Lansing 1 0 0 1 3 1 0 ­— 6 5 1

Wilder 0 0 4 0 2 1 x — 7 9 1

WP- Kyle Kelly (7-1)

Pitching Statistics

Wilder: Easton Napiontek 5 IP, 5 R; Michael Dean 2/3 IP; Kyle Kelly 1 1/3 IP.

Hitting Statistics

Wilder: Easton Napiontek 2-4, 2 R, RBI; George Marinan 2-3, 3B, 3 RBIs; Cole Uvila 2-3, R; Justin Straight 1-2, 2B, RBI, R.

Pool Play

Cape Cod (1-0) 3, Wilder (1-1) 1

Wilder 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 ­— 1 2 1

Cape Cod 0 0 2 1 0 0 x — 3 5 0

WP- Mike Molta; LP- Cole Uvila

Pitching Statistics

Wilder: Cole Uvila 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 4 K, 2 BB, 1 HB.

Cape Cod: Mike Molta 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 10 K, 2 BB.

Hitting Statistics

Wilder: Easton Napiontek 1-3, HR, R, RBI; Larsson Chapman 1-2.

More in Sports

Sequim's Riley Pyeatt (1) won the 400, 800, 1,600 and anchored the Wolves' 4x400 girls relay team that took first at the 2A West-Central District 3 track and field meet in Belfair. (Michel Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
DISTRICT TRACK: Pyeatt dominates; Sequim girls second

East Jefferson boys and girls second at 1A meet

After a two-year hiatus, the Rhody Run took off again on Sunday in a new venue, the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. At the starting gun, the trio of Owen Chamberlain, from Tacoma, John Munro, from Port Townsend and the city manager, and Seamus Fraser, from Port Townsend, lead the pack around the 6.2-mile (10K) course. Fraser won the event with an official time of 35 minutes, 12.33 seconds. Munro was first in his age group of 45-49 and third overall with a time of 36:56.72. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
OUTDOOR SPORTS: Rhody Run returns in style

More than 900 runners took part in the 2022… Continue reading

Sequim's Malory Morey returns a volley with teammate Jordan Hegtvedt in the background in the West-Central District 3 tennis tournament held this weekend in Bremerton. Morey and Hegtvedt won two matches at district. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
DISTRICT GIRLS TENNIS: Sequim’s Hastings finishes second

Sequim’s Kendall Hastings won three matches to come in second… Continue reading

Sequim softball players relax after swamping Sammamish 21-1 in the Class 2A West Central District Softball Tournament at the RAC in Lacey. The Wolves sealed a state tournament berth with the win.
PREP ROUNDUP: Sequim and Port Angeles softball seal up state tournament berths with wins Friday

Sequim faces Fife, Port Angeles takes on Olympic Saturdays in semifinals

Most Read