Sports

BlueJackets sweep Spokane

For Kyle Howe, the opportunity to return to Kitsap County to play summer baseball proved too much to pass up.

For the Kitsap BlueJackets (6-3 overall, 4-2 in league), the opportunity to pick up Howe proved just as valuable.

Howe, in his first start of the season, gave up just one run in five innings of work to lead the BlueJackets over Spokane for the second straight night, winning 2-1 Wednesday at the Fairgrounds Ballfields.

Kitsap completed the sweep of the Riverhawks (2-6 in league) with a 6-0 win Thursday.

As for his starting debut, Howe said while things didn’t quite go as planned, he was pleased with the end result.

“It’s pretty good,” Howe said of starting in front of the home crowd. “I was just trying to get ahead of guys. If I get ahead, I can get guys out.”

Howe, who was drafted after graduating from North Kitsap last year in the 14th round by the Kansas City Royals, opted to play college ball instead of signing, suiting up for Columbia Basin Community College.

Howe said he’s just thrilled to play before the county’s fans once again.

“It’s good,” he said. “I used to play summer ball in Seattle every year. It’s fun to be able to pitch in front of the home crowd. And there’s a little less pressure knowing that I didn’t get drafted again. But I’m still trying to give my best every time.”

Although Wednesday’s outing was his first start, Howe has pitched as a reliever in two other contests.

With his first win of the season under his belt, Howe lowered his ERA to 1.80, giving up just two runs and six hits in 10 innings of work. He’s also racked up 6 strikeouts while walking just 3.

“It’s a good level of ball,” Howe said of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League. “Every game is going to be tough.”

After giving up an early run to Spokane in the first inning, Howe settled down to finish strong, giving up just the one run in five innings.

BlueJackets coach Matt Acker said he’s not surprised to see Howe doing so well.

“The pitching staff has been outstanding,” Acker said. “We knew they were going to be strong. Now, they’ve showed up.

“For Kyle, we know it’s in him. He’s got a ceiling on him that he hasn’t even come close to touching. I just told him to go out there and leave it all on the field. We’re still taping what’s there.”

With the support of his family and community, Howe said he’s excited to see baseball doing so well in the county.

“It’s great to always have support,” Howe said. “My parents have season tickets, so they come down and watch. And we’re playing well at home right now. It’s fun to give the fans a show.”

Against Spokane, the Jackets got great relief pitching from Nick Bowers, who pitched three shutout innings before turning the ball over to closer Mike Tachell, whose fireball struck out the last two Riverhawk batters for his second save.

“I’ve seen Tachell quite a bit,” Acker said, also Tachell’s coach at Green River Community College. “He wasn’t making the grades to play (NCAA Division I), so this is his avenue to pro ball. He is that good. It’s going to take something like this to promote him, but I know he’s more than capable.”

On Thursday, Kyle Cline pitched 8 shutout innings while striking out six and allowing just four hits.

The offense was fueled by Brian Burmester, who went 3-4 with a run and 2 RBI, slapping a double. At the top of the order, shortstop Justin Larkin went 2-4 and drove in 2 thanks to a triple.

Center fielder Nathan Baker also had 2 hits, going 2-3 with 2 runs, an RBI and a stolen base.

Former Central Kitsap grad Chris Owens made his second appearance of the year in support

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