KSS, Oly baseball in logjam atop Olympic League

For five innings, Wednesday’s Olympic League showdown between Olmypic and Klahowya resembled the league standings for which both teams play: close and up for grabs.

But it was the Trojans who prevailed, pushing across six runs on five hits in the top of the sixth to break open what had been a 1-0 game in their favor. The 7-0 win pulled the Trojans virtually even with Klahowya, North Kitsap and Kingston in the Olympic League standings, all having three league losses.

For Klahowya, which had won eight games in a row to pull into first place, the loss was a setback, but not a backbreaker.

In fact, KSS coach Dave Neet said the team is as confident as it’s ever been.

“They feel they can beat anyone,” Neet said Wednesday. “Even losing to Olympic, they feel they let the game slip away.”

It’s been a busy 10 days for Klahowya (10-4 overall, 9-3 league), which beat non-league opponent Forks 12-3 Tuesday on the heels of a 6-4 win against North Kitsap on the road Monday.

The NK win helped the Eagles avenge an early season setback against the Vikings (9-4, 8-3), earning a regular-season split.

“Going into that game, that was our motivation,” Neet said of splitting with NK, one of the preseason favorites to vie for a league title. “You pretty much need a complete game to beat that team.”

The Trojan win Wednesday earned Olympic (9-5, 8-3) a season sweep of the Eagles. Now, Neet said, KSS simply needs to take the season one game at a time.

“One of the most important things is we try to get the kids to work hard,” he said. “When you work hard in practice, you generally work hard in the game.”

While the Eagles’ strength has been their pitching, particularly the one-two combo of lefty Kurtis Pitcher and right-handed fireballer Eric Eley, Neet said senior Jeff Jaeckel, who for the past couple seasons has bounced between JV and varsity and was expected to split time in the outfield this season, has been a pleasant surprise at the plate, hitting better than .500.

“He’s been a lot more of an aggressive hitter,” Neet said of Jaeckel. “Very coachable, a great hitter.”

With four games remaining on the schedule, including a May 1 matchup with Kingston, which could determine the Class 2A champion out of the Olympic League, the Eagles will look to build on the chemistry they’ve established en route to the top of the league standings.

“I think chemistry is really important,” Neet said. “You hope that translates into the positive side of the win column.”

Olympic, meanwhile, also is in position to make a run for the league title, although coach Nate Andrews said Thursday he is more concerned with what his own team does, not what the teams around it do.

“This is going to be a season within a season, starting yesterday, really,” Andrews said. “Every game is big right now, you just gotta take care of business.”

One order of business is to address a hole at shortstop, which opened when everyday shortstop Patrick Middleton got sick last week. He won’t be cleared to play until Monday at the earliest, Andrews said.

“That’s big,” Andrews said of losing Middleton. “We’ve had some adversity, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

The team also was without Blake Johnson for an April 17 game against NK, which the Trojans dropped 6-5, because Johnson was suspended by the league for a game after a home-plate collision against Bremerton April 15.

Andrews said he has no plans to change the pitching rotation, adding he’s “tinkering our system, but taking it one game at a time at the same time.”

Crow, who improved to 3-0, remains the teams No. 1 pitcher. Andrews said Crow’s record could be better than it is, but the bullpen has faltered in his relief on more than one occasion.

“He’s pitching good enough for us to win,” Andrews said. “He’s lost a couple of decisions.”

The Trojans face Port Angeles on the road at 4 p.m. Monday, while Klahowya is at Sequim at 4 p.m. Monday.

Wednesday (BOLD)

Olympic 001 006 0—7 7 3

Klahowya 000 000 0—0 3 2

Riley Crow and Zach Byrd. Kurtis Pitcher, Darell Newman (6) and Seth Green. W—Crow. L—Pitcher.

Leading hitters—Oly: Chris Campbell 3-3 (R,SB), Jordan Halstead 2-4 (R), Tyler Marshall 1-2 (2R), Keith Davis 1-3 (R,2RBI). Kla: Patrick McGuire 1-3 (2b).

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