SPORTS: Wilder’s offensive explosion in Firecracker Classic

PORT ANGELES — Wilder Baseball’s stranglehold on the Dick Brown Memorial Firecracker Classic continued this weekend.

The North Olympic Peninsula all-star squad delivered a pair of 10-run mercy rule victories Friday and Saturday nights to earn a spot in the championship game tonight.

Wilder finished 3-0 in pool play after knocking off Oak Harbor Legion 11-0 on Friday and Sequim 11-1 on Saturday at Port Angeles Civic Field.

Combined with the team’s 11-0 drubbing of the Victoria Eagles in Thursday’s opening game, Wilder (18-6 overall) has outscored its opponents 32-1 in three games.

Obviously, that was more than good enough to place the team in tonight’s 6 p.m. championship game against Kitsap Baseball of Poulsbo.

“We’re playing really well,” said Wilder coach Rob Merritt, whose team reached the title game for the 12th time in the tournament’s 12 years.

“The pitching has been good, our defense has been good and we’re getting big hits at key times.

“We’re actually swinging it pretty well.”

Wilder has yet to play a full game at the Firecracker, with Saturday’s six-inning win over Sequim the only one that wasn’t stopped after five frames.

Wilder pitchers haven’t surrendered one earned run during that time, with Sequim’s lone run on Saturday coming off an error.

“When we’re playing with high energy we play well,” Merritt said.

Now Wilder faces a league opponent in Kitsap Baseball that it’s already taken 3-of-4 from this season. Kitsap won its pool after going 2-1.

Not that Merritt, whose team has won 10 of the previous 11 Firecracker Classics, is taking anything for granted.

“That will be a good game again,” said Merritt. “They are just a good club. They can hit.”

If the last few games are any indication, Wilder can too.

On Saturday night against Sequim, the fireworks came in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

A costly Sequim error led to two of Wilder’s three runs in the third, giving it a 4-1 lead.

Wilder then added two in the fourth and four more in the fifth, two of which came on Ryan Hueter’s two-run single.

One more run in the bottom of the sixth put the game to bed.

“They put up a little bit of a battle,” Merritt said of Sequim.

Spencer Middleton was 2-for-2 with a double, RBI and a run scored to lead Wilder, while Cody Sullivan was 2-for-2 with a double and a run. A.J. Konopaski was 2-for-3 with a run.

Konopaski also pitched four innings on the mound, giving up one unearned run, striking out six and walking one. Brian Senf pitched the final two innings for Wilder.

Matt Bereiter was tabbed with the loss for Sequim, getting chased after five innings.

Weston Royall led Sequim at the plate with a pair of hits and a run scored. His diving catch in the second inning was also one of the defensive highlights of the tournament.

“It was a really good catch,” Merritt said of the full-extension grab, which robbed Wilder’s Devin Mannix of a hit.

Things weren’t nearly as tense in Friday’s affair with Oak Harbor; a game Wilder put away early with a six-run third inning.

Sullivan went all five innings on the hill, allowing just two hits while striking out four and walking one.

Cole Uvila was 2-for-3 at the plate with a double, three RBIs and a run. Easton Napiontek added two hits, two runs and an RBI.

“That was a fun game,” Merritt said. “We jumped on them quick and hard.”

Wilder finds itself in an oddly familiar position, having posted three similar blowout wins on the way to the title game at last weekend’s Salem Post 9 Showcase.

That particular run, however, ended with an 11-1 loss at the hands of Bellingham Post 7.

“We’ve got to finish it this time,” Merritt said. “Close the deal hopefully.”


Sequim 0 0 1 0 0 0 X ­– 1 6 2

Wilder 1 0 3 2 4 1 X — 11 9 2

WP- A.J. Konopaski (5-1); LP- Bereiter

Pitching Statistics

Sequim: Bereiter 5IP, Washburn IP.

Wilder: A.J. Konopaski 4IP (0ER, 6hits, BB, 6K), Senf 2IP (0hits, 0ER, 3BB, 2K).

Hitting Statistics

Sequim: Royall 2-4 (2B, R).

Wilder: Sullivan 2-2 (2B, R); A.J. Konopaski 2-3 (R); Middleton 2-2 (2B, 2R, RBI); Gillis 1-2 (2B, 2R).


Wilder 2 0 6 2 0 X X ­– 10 9 1

Oak Harbor 0 0 0 0 0 X X — 0 2 0

WP- Sullivan; LP- Not reported

Pitching Statistics

Wilder: Sullivan 5IP (0ER, 2hits, BB, 4K).

Hitting Statistics

Wilder: Napiontek 2-3 (2R, RBI); Uvila 2-3 (2B, R, 3RBI).

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