CK wins back-to-back games behind bats. CK baseball wins its way in

KENT — While Central Kitsap’s baseball team is certainly accustomed to district playoff games, it’d been a while since the Cougars had been in a tourney like this.

KENT — While Central Kitsap’s baseball team is certainly accustomed to district playoff games, it’d been a while since the Cougars had been in a tourney like this.

After winning the Narrows League Championship the last two seasons, putting CK in position to win just a single game to advance to state’s regional round, CK had to win two loser-out games this year.

So how did CK respond to that challenge?

“We hit the ball,” CK coach Bill Baxter said. “We were aggressive in the count. If we hit the ball the way we’re capable of, we score runs. We relax a little bit, put the pressure on the other guys.”

That recipe worked, as the Cougars 10-runned both Jefferson and Beamer by a combined score of 21-1 on Saturday at Kent Memorial Field. CK racked up a total of 22 hits in the games while allowing just six, topping Jefferson 10-0 in five innings in the opener before also ending Beamer’s season with an 11-1, six-inning victory.

“It’s a great day to be a Central Kitsap Cougar,” CK catcher Cole Adams said.

The wins vaulted CK back to the state regional round as the West Central District No. 4 seed. And while CK needed two wins to advance this go-round, Adams said the extra effort made the wins that much more enjoyable.

“We had the benefit of only having to win one last year,” the CK junior said. “This year, winning two, it definitely makes it a little more sweet.”

Senior Casey Bohlmann got the starting nod in the opener, pitching a two-hit shutout as Jefferson committed six defensive errors. CK backed up Bohlmann with the bats early, scoring five in the second inning before adding three more in the third. Senior center fielder Caleb Brown, who went 6-6 with two homers and 5 RBI in the series, drilled a solo shot in the first game.

“It could be this field,” Brown said of his performance. “I don’t know. I was just seeing the ball well today.”

The final runs in the opener came when super sophomore Drew Vettleson, named the top prospect out of Washington for the class of 2010 by Baseball Northwest, cranked a two-run bomb in the fourth inning that cleared the 358-foot fence by at least 35-40 feet. Howie McDonald had a strong game as well, going 1-for-2 with a double, two runs, two RBI and a steal.

With the bats operating at such a high level, Brown said everyone was able to relax a little.

“Everything comes off our hitting,” the University of Washington commit said. “When we get all of us like that, it just lets our pitchers calm down. We all calm down.”

In the nightcap against Beamer, which lost earlier in the day against No. 1-seed Kentlake, Allen Hewey got the start, giving up just one run in two-plus innings of work. Nate Roberts relieved Allen Hewey in the third inning as CK allowed just four total hits in that game.

Adams kept CK’s bats hot, going 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Glen Hewey batted 2-for-5 scoring twice, while Vettleson was 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI. Bohlmann went 2-for-2, scoring once and driving one in, while Roberts helped his own cause with a 2-for-4 effort, ripping a double while driving in three.

“We were just feeding off each other,” Adams said. “We were all getting hits. Everyone wanted to.”

Brown was perfect again at 3-for-3, this time stroking two doubles to go with a homer, two runs and four RBI.

“They finally were just walking him,” Baxter said of Beamer. “I don’t blame them.”

Baxter wasn’t surprised at the team’s offensive output, something the Cougs have been doing all season.

“This is the best-hitting club I’ve ever had,” Baxter said. “I’d put these guys against a lot of teams with the bats.”

But skill at the plate alone isn’t the team’s only positive attribute.

“They’re excited,” Baxter said. “They want to win. They love the game of baseball.”

For Brown, the games were an indication of what CK’s potential could be.

“It feels really good,” he said. “To me, it makes me feel like we can and we are gonna go a long way.”

While the Cougars have been in high-pressure situations in the past, Baxter said the team had to find a way to balance the importance of the games.

“One one hand, you’ve got to know it’s do or die,” he said. “But on the other hand, you can’t come out all nervous and not enjoy the experience. Because that’s what it’s all about.”

And with two big wins, CK is doing just that.

“It feels incredible,” Adams said. “We worked really hard this year. We had to get it done twice.”

“That’s tough,” Baxter added. “It’s tough to win two games any day let alone at the district championships.”

CK travels north to Everett Memorial Stadium Saturday where they’ll battle Mountlake Terrace,’s No. 10 team for 4A. That game takes place at 1 p.m. A win there and the Cougars will battle the Puyallup-Snohomish winner at 4 p.m., also in Everett.

Central Kitsap shortstop Daniel Zylstra prepares to fire the back end of a double play started by Nate Roberts (4) in the Cougars’ 10-0 shutout of Jefferson Saturday at Kent Memorial Field. CK also beat Beamer to advance back to state.