Cougars take two

The Central Kitsap dugout celebrates a 3-run homer by Casey Bohlman in the second inning of the Cougars’ 15-3 Narrows League title win against North Kitsap in Tacoma on Saturday.. - Photo by Jesse Beals
The Central Kitsap dugout celebrates a 3-run homer by Casey Bohlman in the second inning of the Cougars’ 15-3 Narrows League title win against North Kitsap in Tacoma on Saturday..
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

TACOMA — Both baseball squads finished with an identical league record.

The two teams split when they faced off in the regular season.

But after Saturday, there was no question about which was the better team.

Central Kitsap stormed to a 15-3 victory against rival North Kitsap in the Narrows League Championship Saturday at Heidelberg Park.

“It feels amazing,” CK senior catcher Daniel Beckon said. “That’s what we wanted. We wanted to come out and prove we’re better.”

“We just came in with the mentality to prove we’re the best team in the league,” CK’s Casey Bohlman added. “And that’s what we did.”

After both teams went scoreless to open the game, CK pounced on Viking starter Kelly Wells for 9 runs in the second, batting around the order in the inning.

The frame included a big RBI triple by Brad Durham to start things, a 2-run single by Daniel Zylstra and the game’s biggest strike, a 3-run long ball by Bohlman.

“Absolutely,” CK coach Bill Baxter said of the team’s 14-hit effort. “Hopefully we’ll continue to bang the ball. We’ve got to come out ready. We’re a good team. They believe in themselves. We’re peaking at the right time. We can’t wait to get out on the field again.”

Zylstra finished 3-4 with 3 runs and 2 RBI for CK while Glen Hewey went 2-3 with 2 runs and 2 RBI. Bohlman finished the game 3-4 with 3 RBI and Caleb Brown drove in 3 runs on a double. Howie Kim went 3-4 as well with 2 runs and Durham finished 2-4 with 2 RBI.

As for the slugging sophomore, Bohlman said he wasn’t sure he caught enough of the pitch to go out, even though his dugout cheered like it was out the whole way.

“It felt good,” he said. “When I hit it, I saw it up in the air. I thought it’d be a sac fly.”

Along with the Narrows League Championship, the win gives CK the No. 1 seed heading into this weekend’s West Central District tournament. CK will take on Kentridge at 11 a.m. Saturday at Heidelberg Park.

Cougar southpaw David Stilley pitched a complete game in the five-inning win, striking out four with one game left in his high school career. Stilley, who signed a letter of intent to play baseball for Washington State University, is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery to replace a torn ligament in his throwing elbow on May 16. That means Saturday’s start will be his last. That made winning the Narrows for the second-straight season even more rewarding, he said.

“In the beginning, before we had any games, we all said, ‘We’ve got to win the Narrows League. We’ve got to continue this streak,’” Stilley said. “We just kept getting win after win. But nobody’s mentioned the win streak. We just play game after game. We try not to think of that stuff.”

The win was the 13th straight for the Cougars after beginning the season 3-5.

“It feels great,” Beckon said. “We’ve all been ready for this. We’ve all been pushing for it.”

With an all-Kitsap County title game, Bohlman said it was nice to win one against a local rival.

“We split with them,” he said. “It’s nice to come out and beat them in the title game and prove we’re the best out here.”

Baxter too said it was nice to earn the title against a team of NK’s quality.

“I think we’re all excited. They’re a really good team, well coached,” Baxter said. “We have a lot of respect for them but we like to win. But it says a lot for baseball in our area.”

Before the game, Stilley, who knows NK starter Kelly Wells off the field as well, talked with the team about jumping on him early.

“I know Kelly Wells,” Stilley said. “He’s been consistent this year. We were all talking before the game and we knew we had to get him from the start.”

The Cougars were largely underrated last season before streaking to the league title as well. Stilley said with more questions surrounding the team this season, it felt even better.

“That was a really good feeling,” he said. “We had confidence in our team, but we had to prove it to everybody. We try not to get all the hype in the back of our heads. We just had to do what we had to do and we did it.”

And with the bats on fire, Baxter said there’s no reason the team can’t take Kentridge.

“We’re gonna do our best,” he said. “If we come out and play hard like we have been, I think we’ll be fine.”

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