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Jackets drop more one-run battles
BEND, Ore. Pitching and defense have been the strengths that Kitsap has used to climb to the top of the West Division in the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League.
So when the Jackets committed seven errors and the teams starters gave up a combined 11 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings across Kitsaps three-game weekend series with Bend, it was no surprise the team dropped two-of-three.
But despite the 14-inning 7-6 loss Thursday and the 6-5 loss Saturday that sandwiched Fridays 11-8 win, the Jackets (27-12, 19-11) are still within striking distance, now a half-game back of Corvallis (Ore.; 20-11) atop the West.
Thursdays series opener was a back-and-forth affair complete with eight lead changes. After things were knotted at 6-6, Kitsap closer Joe Hagen worked four scoreless innings of relief before giving way to Brent Miller.
Miller gave up a lead-off double to Bend all-star DJ Gentile, then intentionally walked Ryan Scott. Koa Kahalehoe singled to load the bases before the Jackets fell when Jeff Arbayo was hit by Millers final offering, scoring Gentile.
Kitsaps Aaron Bronson, who posted a 1.29 ERA in the first half, allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings of work, walking three while striking out five.
Catcher Lawson Hipps led Kitsaps offense with a 3-5 effort that included two walks a run and an RBI, slapping a double. Ryan Voelkel was 2-3 with 3 RBI for Kitsap while Doug Buser finished 2-6 with two runs.
Friday, Kyle Howe, who sported another sparkling ERA of 1.32, gave up five runs in 6 innings, but the Jackets scored seven runs in the first two frames to help Howe improve to 4-1.
Jamie Nilsen went 3-6 with three runs and two RBI leading off, while Buser was 2-6 again with two runs. Joey Lind, playing left field, went 4-5 with two runs and three RBI. Voelkel was strong again with a 3-5, one-run effort. Reliever Christian Scholl was strong again, earning his first save to give Hagen a break after his longer-than-usual Thursday outing.
Bend tried to push back late, trailing 11-5 after the top of the ninth, scoring three runs against James Douglas before Scholl closed the window of opportunity on Bend.
Saturdays game was another interesting one for Kitsap.
After building a 5-0 lead heading into the eighth inning, thanks to strong pitching from starter Matt Rossman.
Rossman started getting hit, as he was tagged for three runs in the eighth.
Errors doomed Kitsap in the end, however, as three more unearned runs scored against Hagen to give Bend a 6-5 walkoff win.