Sports

Baseball team drops the ball toward end of regular season

Pirate baseball coach Steve Hall is puzzled by his team.

Noting the solid 5-2 start the Pirates made early in the season, he has been searching for solutions to reverse their recent four-game slide.

“We’re making untimely errors that we normally wouldn’t make,” he said. Offensively, “we’re not getting guys on base and into scoring position early. We want to get ahead and then put the pressure on (our opponents).”

Instead, he pointed out, the Pirates’ poor fielding is giving away runs behind solid pitching. Mental errors on the basepaths are consistently wiping off potential Pirate scorers.

The wheels fell off the Pirate baseball team last week as they turned the corner into the season’s home stretch. Vashon dropped three straight error-laden games and virtually careened off the track that would have taken them into the post-season.

Against the Orting Cardinals at Vashon High School on Monday, April 20, the Pirates fell behind early. Facing Orting’s best pitcher, Nick Wilkins, last season’s first team all-Nisqually lefty, the Pirates reached base but got picked off twice.

Pirate Chris Pieterick jacked a solo home run off him in the second. But Wilkins’ otherwise dominant pitching effort, combined with additional Pirate errors, resulted in a 12-3 Pirate deficit by the time Wilkins was replaced in the sixth.

Vashon mounted one last assault in the seventh, getting runners into position for a grand slam home run by Hayden Campbell and a two-run triple by Pieterick. Alas, too little, too late in the 13-9 loss.

Errors continued to plague the Pirates when they faced the Cascade Christian Cougars on Wednesday, April 22. Tyler Bernheisel went the distance for the Pirates, throwing six strikeouts and tallying only two earned runs. But the Pirates, who outhit the Cougars 7-5, saddled themselves with six errors in the 6-2 loss.

On Friday, the Pirates traveled to Orting for the rubber match against the Cardinals. Orting coaches, apparently having seen enough of the Pirates’ big bats in the first game, again put Wilkins on the mound. Wes Paulson held down the Pirate pitching duties and kept the game close through inning four. But a string of errors in handling consecutive bunts in the fifth allowed the Cardinals to torture four runs out of the Pirates.

Vashon came back in the top of the sixth to threaten, after Bernheisel opened with a base hit and Pieterick walked. Kyle Martin then powered up a long double to score Bernheisel. The Pirates would go on to load the bases, but could not manufacture any more runs in the 6-3 loss.

The Pirates faced Seattle Christian on Monday (with results too late for press time) and play their last league game today at Life Christian, almost certainly out of the running for postseason play.

— Charlie Pieterick is the father of Chris Pieterick.

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