Sports

Jackets take over first place

Fans who enjoyed last season’s fireworks show after the BlueJackets’ game can do so again tonight at 7 p.m. at the Fairgrounds. - Phtoto by Aaron Managhan/file photo 2006
Fans who enjoyed last season’s fireworks show after the BlueJackets’ game can do so again tonight at 7 p.m. at the Fairgrounds.
— image credit: Phtoto by Aaron Managhan/file photo 2006

WENATCHEE — It had to happen sometime.

After extending the team’s winning streak to nine games and vaulting ahead of Corvallis (Ore.) into first place in the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League’s West Division, the Kitsap BlueJackets finally slipped up. But it wasn’t for lack of effort.

Wenatchee (5-10) needed 11 innings to squeak out a 6-5 win Sunday, narrowly avoiding being swept by the Jackets for the second time this season.

Before the loss, Kitsap (17-6 overall, 10-5 in WCCBL play) topped Wenatchee 5-4 Friday and 4-2 Saturday.

In Friday’s win, the Jackets never trailed, scoring two in the top of the third inning on a Joey Lind RBI double, scoring himself when Ryan Voelkel doubled him home. The AppleSox got two back before Kitsap scored three in the seventh, two of which were unearned thanks to an error.

In the final frame, closer Joe Hagen came on seeking his fourth league save but Wenatchee had other plans. After walking Hawkins Gebbers, a Ryan Davis single kept the AppleSox alive. A Dillon Baird single loaded the bases, prompting Kitsap coach Matt Acker to call down to the bullpen.

So with the bases loaded and a 3-run lead, the team called on last year’s WCCBL Pitcher of the Year Ross Humes, Washington State University’s primary closer this past spring, to shut the door. An uncharacteristic error by shortstop Jamie Nilsen (one of three Kitsap errors in the game) scored a pair before Humes (after intentionally walking the bases loaded on the next batter) struck out two and got Wenatchee’s Zach Mandelblatt to ground out to earn the save in his first appearance. The runs, only one of which were earned, were charged to Hagen.

Kyle Nunley went 5 2/3 innings for Kitsap, giving up just three hits and two runs (one earned) in that time. Barrett Kanyer and Travis McKracken both pitched well out of the pen as well.

Saturday was close again, but not nearly as suspenseful as the Jackets again put up three runs in the top of the third inning, a lead they would never lose.

Matt Rossman went five innings of two-hit ball with no walks and five strikeouts before being removed.

CK product Tyler Owens was 2-4 with a run in the game, as did second baseman Brandon Decker, and Brandon Kuykendall went 2-3 with an RBI and a stolen base.

On Sunday, the tables were turned as the AppleSox responded to a 2-1 Kitsap lead with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, coming against Kitsap arms Brett Miller and McKracken.

Trailing 5-2, the Jackets stormed back in the top of the ninth. Lawson Hipps started the inning off with a single. Owens kept the trend going, singling himself and advancing to third on a wild pitch. After Keegan McCamment walked to load the bases, Doug Buser came up and drove one in on a sacrifice fly to center. Nilsen continued to come around at the plate, hitting an RBI double to score Owens. Another wild pitch by Wenatchee’s Brett Stenger scored the tying run in pinch runner Aaron Johnson (another CK grad) and moved Nilsen to third. But Wenatchee’s Ryan Graves came in to stop the bleeding, striking out Decker and Kuykendall to send the game into extra frames.

In the bottom of the eleventh, the AppleSox broke the draw.

Hagen, who already pitched two innings prior, gave up a single to Tony Jones, who then advanced to second on a ground out. A single by Michael Miller and an intentional walk to Mandelblatt loaded the bases. Aaron Russell did what the Jackets wanted when he hit a grounder that forced the runner at the plate, giving Wenatchee the bases loaded again, but this time with two outs.

But Gebbers showed why he is considered one of the league’s top prospects, hitting a walk-off single to keep the sweep at bay.

The BlueJackets traveled to Bellingham (6-9) last night but results were unavailable at press time. Kitsap hosts Olympia tonight in the team’s annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration. Tonight’s game starts at 7 p.m. with fireworks to follow.

The games, as always, are broadcast online at the BlueJackets’ Web site, www.kitsapbluejackets.com. The games are replayed for 20 hours a day.

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