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CK punches tickets
TACOMA Central Kitsaps David Stilley finished his high school career the only way he knows how: giving 100 percent.
Stilley, slated to undergo Tommy John surgery today, went out on the highest of notes last weekend with the Cougars topping Kentridge 5-1 at Heidelberg Park. The win propelled CK to the first round of the state tournament for the first time since 1996.
That was the most exciting game of baseball Ive ever been in, Stilley said. Ive never had anything that exhilarating in my life. I cant even describe it really.
In a total team effort, Stilley struck out 9, CK got a number of big plays from the defense and a big fifth inning from the bats.
In the fifth inning tied at 1-1, CK started early with a single by Andrew Braun leading things off. Dan Zylstra then bunted him over. Glen Hewey came up and drew a four-pitch walk, putting runners on first and second for CK Casey Bohlman. Bohlman reached on a fielders choice as Hewey was out at second. But with two outs, CK came up big.
Caleb Brown began the rally with an RBI double that hopped high over third baseman Spencer Grahams head. Howie Kim then came up and crushed a bases-clearing triple to center. Scoring ended after Brad Durham singled Kim home to give CK the 5-1 edge.
Oh my gosh, its amazing, Kim, a senior, said. I felt like I lost 100 pounds. Something was off my shoulders.
Kim said he remembers watching his friends brothers at state when he was growing up.
Ive been waiting for this moment since I was 10, Kim said. I had friends brothers at state. I was just like, Oh man.
For Baxter and the teams returners from last year, the win triggered a collective sigh of relief. Last season, CK was heavily favored at districts, but failed to advance.
This is a lot better, Cougar coach Bill Baxter said. We dont have to come back. The kids worked very hard and they deserve this.
Part of last years experience helped this season, Baxter said. He said last year, after giving up a homer like the one Graham hit in the second inning, the team would have had a hard time rebounding.
Its knowing what to expect, Baxter said. Not coming out and being flat. We gave up that home run early, but we didnt go, Uhhh.
If anything, last years trip to districts only fueled CKs competitive fire.
Last year, we thought wed punch our tickers but we didnt, Baxter said. I think now, the goals are a little higher.
As for Stilley, he said he couldnt have pictured a better ending under the circumstances.
It feels great, you know, Stilley said. The last time Ill be pitching for the Cougars. Its a good feeling, a really good feeling.
On the same token, he knows its going to be difficult to watch from the dugout the rest of the way.
Its kind of depressing, he said. I felt like I did my part in helping bring us there. Now I want to finish it. But things happen. I believe in this team. I believe we an go far.
Baxter echoed the sentiment, saying the teams firepower should help pick up the other arms.
Its tough, but its like I told the guys, well miss him, no doubt. But weve got guys that can play and compete, Baxter said. Weve got solid players. Well go out and battle.
David was such a huge part of why were even here. But KJ (McLean) is gonna step up to the plate for us. Nate Roberts, Andrew Duke, all those guys. Theyre gonna battle. If we score some runs and do like we have been, well compete with anybody.
Stilley said surgery wont keep him from rooting on his teammates.
Ill be back, he said. I just dont know how good Ill feel.
Kim said the team banded together to make Stilleys final outing memorable.
We wanted to give him a win so bad, Kim said.
With such a strong team effort, Baxter believes his team is far from done. But as he pointed out, it only gets tougher from here.
Weve had good teams. Its tough to get here when the league is so tough, Baxter said of districts. That team was tough. Theres no letdown at this point in the season.
That said, Baxter said hes having more fun than ever.
Its fun. Its a blast, he said. I know how much fun Im having.
I cant imagine being able to play.
CK returns to Heidelberg Park Saturday for a 10 a.m. regional first-round game with Woodinville.