Eagles ground Kitsap in league tune-up

Kitsap shortstop Brad Boyer (University of Washington) breaks his bat on a pitch in on his hands in the first inning of Kitsap’s 11-3 loss to Skagit Wednesday. Boyer was 2-4 with a run and a stolen base.  - Photo by Aaron Managhan
Kitsap shortstop Brad Boyer (University of Washington) breaks his bat on a pitch in on his hands in the first inning of Kitsap’s 11-3 loss to Skagit Wednesday. Boyer was 2-4 with a run and a stolen base.
— image credit: Photo by Aaron Managhan

At least it was a non-league game.

The Kitsap BlueJackets lost 11-3 to the Skagit Eagles on Wednesday at Kitsap Fairgrounds Ballfields, but the loss was hardly a call for alarm.

Preserving arms for this weekend’s West Coast Collegiate Baseball League opener in Bellingham, Jackets coach Matt Acker called up Tacoma Cardinal and Olympic College Ranger Seth Foley to make the spot start.

And while Foley’s line (6 innings, 9 runs, 10 hits, 2 walks, 2 strike outs) wasn’t pretty, he pitched better than the box score showed, getting ahead of the count often and showing good location on his pitches. Simply put, when Foley did make a mistake, the Eagles’ hitters were all over it.

“That’s the secret. You work ahead, you’ll be fine,” Acker said. “You work behind, you won’t be. That’s what happened today.”

The heart of the Skagit batting order took Foley and the BlueJackets to task for a combined 12 hits in 20 at bats between the Nos. 3 through 6 hitters. Skagit’s Ricky Reavis led the charge, going 5-5 with three runs, three RBI and a two-run homer over the left-center field fence.

Still awaiting the arrival of several members of the BlueJackets’ bench and pitching staff, Acker said he plans to use recent call-ups Joash Brodin and Josh Meeker in the Bellingham series, which began yesterday with results unavailable at press time. With the shorthanded staff, regular infielder Danny Meier was called on to provide some relief work on the mound. On the flip side, regular pitcher Kyle Cline came in to pinch hit late in the game. While both have been in those roles for their respective colleges, it’s certainly not Acker’s first choice.

“With nobody on the bench, it’s what we have to do,” Acker said. “Hopefully we don’t have to do it again.”

Offensively, the BlueJackets had no problem getting runners on base. Bringing them home was another matter completely as the Jackets stranded 12.

“We swung the bat a lot better today,” Acker said of the team’s eight-hit performance. “This group makes good adjustments. But this lineup is not full. It’s not filled out yet.”

Some of the team’s top power hitters haven’t arrived or have been unable to play. The team is still waiting for Kevin Corrigan (.358, 9 HR, 45 RBI for Western Oregon University) and AJ Smith (a 6-foot, 3-inch, 200-pounder from the University of California-Riverside). Brian Burmerster, who was injured in a collision at the plate in last week’s home opener, will be back for today’s game against the Bells after getting his doctor’s clearance.

The Eagles’ Steve Hupper, a North Mason High School product, shut down the Jackets early with a no-hitter into the fourth inning. But Kitsap adjusted for two runs in the fourth and generated two fruitless bases-loaded chances.

Hupper finished the win with four strike outs and three walks in five innings.

With the BlueJackets at 3-2 through their first five-game home stand, Acker said the opening games provided invaluable evaluation time for his staffers.

“We got a very good chance to evaluate a lot of the kids,” Acker said. “Our offense is much better. Our defense didn’t show it tonight, but it’s much better. Our pitching is much better.”

Brett Kaluza continues to have a strong season for Kitsap, going 2-4 with a run and two RBI. Stephen Herzog was 2-5 with an RBI double and Brad Boyer went 2-4 with a run and a steal.

Defensively, Justin Larkin, in left field for starter Doug Buser, had a gem of a play when he nailed Reavis at the plate as Reavis tried to score on a Jesse Moon single. Kitsap had three errors however.

“We’re asking them to do a lot,” Acker said. “But they’re getting it done.”

The BlueJackets wrap up in Bellingham on Sunday before returning for a three-game home stand Monday against the Spokane Riverhawks.

Short hops

Monday is Red Robin Business Night, with the first 200 fans receiving Red Robin Gourmet Burgers key chains ... Danny Meier, who was hit by two pitches Sunday against Everett, hit a Skagit batter while pitching the ninth inning and was hit by a pitch in his ensuing at bat in the bottom of the inning ... The BlueJackets also called up Russell McGinnis from Tacoma. McGinnis went 1-4 with a double ... Kaluza is hitting .529 (9-17) through the first five games ... Friday’s trip to Bellingham kicks off the first of 18 games in 19 days, with 12 of those on the road.

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