TACOMA — Central Kitsap has punched its ticket to the state tournament.
After defeating Spanaway Lake, 12-8, in a morning contest on Saturday, May 5, the Cougars came from to stun Bonney Lake, scoring eight runs in the final inning of their second game en route to a 9-8 victory.
Bonney Lake had its No. 1 pitcher on the mound and had dominated much of the game up until the final inning. That’s when the Cougars offense broke through.
“It was a heck of a fun day,” Central Kitsap head coach Bill Baxter said. “I was really proud of my kids and I love their ‘never give up’ attitude. That’s all a coach can ever ask from the guys.”
That offensive outburst followed the team’s 12-run performance against Spanaway Lake in game one, in which the bats came alive when the Cougars needed them most.
The Sentinels scored four runs in the third inning to tie the contest at 5, but Central Kitsap immediately responded. Senior Rylee Orteza set the tone by singling to leadoff the bottom half of the third inning. Central Kitsap then took advantage of some shoddy fielding to open up a lead.
It started with a ground ball by Nate DeSchryver that ate up the Spanaway Lake third baseman and cruised into left field. He ended up reaching second base and then stole third and came home on a throwing error by the catcher.
In the fifth, senior Fred Buckson reached on an error. The ball skipped up and off the glove of the third baseman. Buckson stole second a couple of pitches later. Then Teagan Taafe singled, Austin McMinds singled and Carson Wiler doubled to bring home a few more runs. By the end of five innings, the Cougars led 11-6.
However, the Sentinels did not go away quietly. In the seventh, Jack Sanders blasted a pitch into the right-center field gap. He ended up on third base with a triple.
Freshman pitcher Chandler Lindstrom, who was called on in relief for Owen Davies, uncharacteristically struggled a bit in that final inning. Lindstrom is known for his control but walked the second batter he faced after giving up a triple.
The next two batters recorded outs on a sacrifice fly and a strikeout swinging, which meant the Cougars needed just one more to secure the win. A single up the middle by Dawsen Kaaiwela brought in another, ultimately unimportant, run, and then, Lindstrom issued his second walk of the inning.
“We couldn’t just squash it,” CK head coach Bill Baxter said. “I think we should have 10-runned them, to be honest. But you gotta give them credit, too. We gave them opportunities and they popped the ball when they needed to and that’s baseball.”
Lindstrom buckled down to get the final batter looking at a called third strike in the lengthy final inning. He finished with four innings pitched, giving up three runs while striking out five. As for his team, they were cautiously optimistic heading into the matchup against Bonney Lake.
While Baxter liked what his team did offensively in game one — taking advantage of mistakes and jumping on pitches — he was aggravated with the defensive mistakes that, in turn, allowed Spanaway Lake to extend innings and claw back into the ballgame.
“We made too many mistakes,” he said. “We can’t misplay two outfield balls, we cannot turn a double-play ball into errors, we can’t give them runs, we’ve got to pitch ahead.”
With its place in the state tournament secure, Central Kitsap will play Capital at 10 a.m. on May 12 at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma. The two teams split their season series, but wins in the first two rounds have taken off the pressure.
“We can just relax and try to win a district championship,” Baxter said.
Central Kitsap 12, Spanaway Lake 8
WP: Lindstrom LP: Trujillo
SL 0 1 4 0 1 0 2 — 8 10 4
CK 4 1 2 0 4 1 x — 12 12 1
Spanaway Lake — Trujillo 3 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, K; Thompson 2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, BB, K; Martinez 1 IP, 2 H, R, ER.
Central Kitsap — Davies 3 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K; Lindstrom 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
Spanaway Lake — Shook 3-3, 2B, BB, SB, 3 R; Martinez 1-2, 2B, 3 RBI.
Central Kitsap — Buckson 2-4, SB, 2 R; McMinds 3-4, RBI, R; Wiler 2-3, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, R; Kawahara 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI, R; Castro 1-2, SB, RBI.
— Jacob Moore is a reporter for Kitsap Daily News. Contact him at Jmoore@Soundpublishing.com or follow him on Twitter @JmooreKDN.