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BlueJackets round out roster
Kitsap BlueJackets coach Matt Acker is certainly glad to be back out on the diamond. And with the way his Green River Community College squad is playing (the Gators are 15-8), its easy to see why.
That should give area summer ball fans some hope, as Green River features a pair of returning BlueJackets in pitcher Joe Hagen and outfielder Joash Brodin (Green River also features local products Shea Baumgartner of Olympic and Central Kitsap grads James Lane, Tyler Owens and Bryce Wentworth).
No question, Acker said when asked if its nice to be back out. The spring weather can be a little frustrating at times. But weve only been rained out twice.
And while Acker is currently busy with his Gators, hes also been hard at work finalizing Kitsaps roster for the coming summer season.
Several newcomers figure to make an impact for the BlueJackets in 2007.
On the pitching staff, Mark Fraser (University of Rhode Island) gives the team another lefty. But hes also coming back from a little adversity.
Mark had his appendix taken out at the beginning of the season, Acker said. Since, hes been throwing in big situations for them. Their coach is really high on him. Hes gonna log more innings as the year goes on, but the benefit for us is he hasnt logged that many. Hell come in here fresh.
In four games with Rhode Island, Fraser is second on the team with a 4.15 ERA, going 0-1. He has a pair of strikeouts and no walks in 4-1/3 innings.
Righties Matt Mongiardini (Temple University) and Nick Tucker (Lafayette) are both originally from New Jersey. Temple had planned to use Mongiardini as a closer, but switched him to starter. Tucker is one whos ready to break out, Acker said.
We have to find out how much (Matt) logs inning-wise, Acker said. The role for him at the beginning was to be the closer. Well see how much life is left in his arm.
Nick is in the same situation. Hes just on the verge of being a good guy. And thats what you get in this league. Hes almost there.
Mongiardini has struggled with the role a little bit for Temple early, going 2-4 with a 7.08 ERA in 40 and 2/3 innings. Tucker has made just one appearance thus far.
Rounding out the staff is a University of Washington righty, Brett Miller. Miller, a freshman, has yet to take the mound for the Huskies.
Hes got a good arm on him, Acker said. This will be a good chance to showcase what hes got.
Fellow Husky Joey Lind will help out the BlueJackets infield. Acker said the freshman from Mill Creek, Wash., has started to come on.
He didnt play much in the beginning but hes playing a lot now, Acker said. Hes hitting very well. Hes starting to come into his own.
In 11 games, three starts, Lind is hitting .316 with 3 runs and a pair of RBI at first base.
Outfielder Jack Greenberg, a freshman from Pittsburgh playing for Rhode Island, also is in the same boat, getting short time in 8 games thus far.
Jacks sitting behind an older guy, Acker said. But hes been getting his playing time and making it count. Thats exactly what you want of the guy.
Catcher Lawson Hipps will team up with returner Jake Owens to give the Jackets a formidable set of receivers. Hipps comes to Kitsap as a sophomore set to attend Arkansas State.
Lawson has done real well this year, Acker said. Hes definitely an offensive force and he has a left-handed swing. He and Jake Owens will be a great combination.
Brandon Eller, another Arkansas State player, was supposed to play for Kitsap but will miss the season due to a needed surgery. The exact opposite is happening with newcomer Keegan McCamment, an Austin Peay State University outfielder who opted to miss the school season for surgery instead.
They basically did the opposite, Acker said. And thats fine. I understand why Brandon did what he did and why Keegan did what he did.
As a result, Acker said McCamment is getting antsy to get back on the diamond.
Hed be hitting in the middle of the order at Austin Peay if he was there, Acker said. Hes excited.
Another Austin Peay player, Matt Kole, will join the team as a utility player. Hes spent time in the field and on the mound for the Governors this season.
Matts been been pitching and hitting there, Acker said. Hes real solid, real nice. Hes been having a good year.
While hitting just .143 in 28 at-bats, Kole is 1-0 in 5 scoreless innings on the mound.
But one Governor and returning Jacket making some noise for Austin Peay this year is South Kitsap High School graduate Josh Meeker.
Meeker is hitting a red-hot .415 in 17 games for the Governors, scoring 8 runs and driving in 7. Hes also been solid defensively.
But hes not the only returning Jacket making noise this spring.
Outfielder Doug Buser recently signed with the University of Oklahoma.
Righty Sean Greer has a 2.61 ERA in 13 appearances, striking out 8 and walking just 3 in 20-2/3 innings for Riverside Community College. North Kitsap graduate and soon-to-be three-year Jacket Kyle Howe is 1-2 with a 5.35 ERA for the University of Nevada-Reno.
But perhaps the Jacket having the best spring is infielder Jamie Nilsen, attending Central Washington University.
Nilsen is ripping a .426 clip in 29 games (46-108) with 6 homers, 27 RBI and 41 runs. Hes also been safe in 15 of 20 steals attempts.
While the key offensive pieces return, Acker said its nice to have such a strong mix of pitching to complement that core.
You wanna get a mix of it, Acker said. Some with experience come in tired. I think weve got a good mix of good experience and young arms.
And if they falter, help is on the way. The BlueJackets feeder team, the Tacoma Cardinals, is equipped, Acker said, with five or six pitchers that touch the 90 mph range.
I can tell you, the pitching staff is littered with righties, lefties, velocity, different arm motions, he said. Theres some real pitchers on the feeder team.
The Cardinals roster should be released soon.
For more information on the Kitsap BlueJackets, including complete roster details, ticket information and the 2007 schedule, visit www.kitsapbluejackets.com. For more information on the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League, visit www.wccbl.com.