TACOMA — If there’s one thing that could keep the Peninsula High baseball team from a successful season, it’s an injury to a veteran starter.
The Seahawks will have to deal with that scenario after senior catcher Kailer Smith left the field in the first inning of Thursday’s 10-2 nonleague loss at Bellarmine Prep.
A foul tip caught Smith in the right hand, and he immediately went to the bench for treatment. The extent of the injury wasn’t known Thursday, but Smith said Friday on the team’s Facebook page he sustained a bone fracture that required surgery.
The incident not only took Peninsula’s leadoff hitter and field general out of the lineup, it likely distracted the team as Bellarmine went on to win handily.
“Having Schmitty go out kind of caught us all off-guard and rattled us a little bit,” coach Pete Weymiller said. “It took me out of my game a little bit, too, because I care so much about the kids.”
Pitching is supposed to be a team strength, and Julian Archuleta, who made his first career varsity start, showed flashes of promise against Bellarmine. The junior had six strikeouts, but he issued six walks and left after 2 2/3 innings.
Archuleta’s first inning was a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance. He walked four batters, including two with the bases loaded, and allowed the Lions to score three runs on one hit. He also struck out the side.
“We saw some good things from Archie out there,” Weymiller said. “But that’s the thing, if you walk guys, they’re going to score.”
The Seahawks (2-2) got a run back in the top of the second. Robert Kvinsland reached on a two-out error, advanced on Jimmy Price’s single and scored on backup catcher Josh Youngchild’s single to center field.
However, Peninsula’s offensive output wasn’t nearly good enough on a day its pitching staff struggled. The Seahawks had five hits and only strung together multiple hits in two innings.
“We had some opportunities to score some runs,” Weymiller said. “We had runners in scoring positions, and some of our key players that normally come through in those conditions didn’t today. That happens.”
The Lions (2-0) cemented the result in the fourth against reliever Austin Filkins. They scored twice when center fielder Price lost track of Matthew Jacobsen’s high fly ball, and Harry Steinberg followed with a sharply hit RBI single to make it 7-1.
In the sixth, Peninsula’s Kory Vanderstaay drilled a double to the right-field gap and scored on Doug Kanouse’s single. But the Lions avoided further damage as Steinberg got Shane Hanon to ground out with two runners on base.
Peninsula committed four errors in the game, and two of them allowed Bellarmine to score three unearned runs in the sixth off Garrett Smith.
Kailer Smith’s timetable for return isn’t known, and his absence will create a void.
“He’s the heart and soul of this team,” Weymiller said. “He definitely manages our pitchers better than any catcher I’ve ever known, and, mechanically, he’s the best catcher I’ve ever coached.”
Peninsula’s experienced lineup should find ways to play better and win as the season goes along.
“I think we’re a lot better than we showed today,” Weymiller said. “We just can’t be making mistakes, and we’ll clean those up. ... I’m not worried. I don’t think this is the Seahawk team that we’re going to be seeing.”Sports Editor Neil Pierson can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_neil.