Sports

Kitsap falls in WCCBL opener

Kitsap’s Lydon Estill, the NWAACC MVP out of Lower Columbia, was drafted by the Chicago White Sox. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Kitsap’s Lydon Estill, the NWAACC MVP out of Lower Columbia, was drafted by the Chicago White Sox.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

t Jackets’ Estill takes field for final time.

By AARON MANAGHAN

Sports editor

Lyndon Estill walked off the field as a member of the Kitsap BlueJackets for the last time Tuesday, finishing his Jackets’ career before ever playing in a West Coast Collegiate Baseball League contest.

Estill, one part of Kitsap’s top-flight outfield, was selected in the eighth round last week by the Chicago White Sox in the 2007 MLB Draft.

“Today was my last game,” he said. “I’ll go talk with my family, see everything we want to do and then I’m supposed to sign on Monday.”

For Estill, the dream he’s fostered since he began playing the game is finally coming to fruition. But even he is surprised at how rapid his progression has been this season.

Playing at Lower Columbia College in Longview, Estill blew up this season, hitting .424 in 38 games with 10 doubles and six homers in 125 at-bats. Estill drove in 40 runs and scored another 38 for the Red Devils en route to the Northwest Athletic Association of Community College’s MVP award. And while he’s excited to get going at the professional level, it wasn’t his goal at the beginning of the year.

“No. The initial goal was just to go to a (Division I school) from my (junior college),” Estill said. “I just did good everyday. I just couldn’t do bad. It’s surreal right now.”

The BlueJackets (7-2 overall) downed its feeder team, the Tacoma Cardinals, for the fifth time this season, blowing them out 10-3 after winning 7-1 Monday.

BlueJackets coach Matt Acker said it was the bats of Estill, Ryan Voelkel, Lawson Hipps, Jack Greenberg and company that provided the edge in both series with Tacoma.

“We’re just hitting the ball real well,” Acker said. “We hit well to situations. We hit pretty well all the way around. We hit as a group and made ’em pay.”

Kitsap kicked off WCCBL play on Thursday, falling 4-3 on the road against Moses Lake. Poulsbo’s Kyle Howe left after five innings with the Jackets leading 3-1. But after the Pirates (1-0) tied it up in the sixth, things got messy.

After the Jackets got two outs on Moses Lake, an intentional walk, error and finally, a game-winning single ended the league-opening contest.

The Jackets took on Moses Lake against last night, but results were unavailable at press time. The teams wrap up a three-game series tonight before heading to Spokane Sunday.

Last year, the Jackets were forced to start the season with 12 of the team’s first 15 league contests on the road, including the final nine consecutively. The Jackets got off to a slow start, going 2-7 down the final nine. But Acker said the team has learned a lot since then, and those who went through the slum have been advising the new Jackets.

“It’s big,” Acker said. “The guys have been telling them how the sun sets at Moses Lake in center. Just what’s going on. They’re pretty excited about it.”

Getting off to a solid start will be essential in a tight WCCBL West Division, Acker said.

“We go on the road, sneak out a series,” Acker said. “Two series would be phenomenal, but one series would be great. As good as the league is, that’s what you look for. You take what you can get, win the ones you can and try and compete on the bad days. Then battle back and learn from those.”

The trip also is a nice way to show players exactly what they have in Kitsap, he said.

“It’ll be good to get away, do something different,” Acker said. “It makes the guys miss home a little bit. It makes them realize what we have here.”

While Estill, from Bellevue, never got a chance to compete in WCCBL play, he said he still relished his short time in Kitsap County.

“I’ve had a blast here, I really have,” Estill said. “The atmosphere with the fans and the guys is great.”

The White Sox called Estill to inform him of that decision at 7 a.m. last Thursday, the opening day of the draft.

“I got a call saying I could go up in the early rounds,” Estill said. “They said, ‘You’re the guy we want, so we’re gonna make it early.’ An hour later, my name came up.”

It didn’t take long to get excited.

“The best part is probably just knowing I’m going to get paid to go play a game and do something I love everyday,” he said. “Oh man, I have to go to the ballpark again? It’s great.”

And even though his time was short in Kitsap, he said it still benefited him as a player.

“It was (short), but it was a good step,” Estill said. “I like being here, playing every day. It’s a good program to take the next step.”

Kitsap returns home June 21 against Wenatchee.

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