EAST BREMERTON — With his team down by three runs after three innings, Central Kitsap sophomore Chandler Lindstrom entered the game in the fourth inning a big spot.
The Cougars were down 4-1 and their opponent, North Kitsap, had gotten nine men on base over the course of the first three innings.
But Lindstrom shut the door, giving up just one hit and two walks in four innings of work and the offense came through with five runs to give the Cougars a 6-4 win over North Kitsap on Wednesday afternoon at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.
North Kitsap shortstop Isaac Richardson was the only batter to get a hit off Lindstrom, a two-out double in the top of the seventh. The next batter, Tucker Gowin, hit a hard liner, but it was right at the left fielder to end the game.
“He’s a guy we’re going to lean on quite a bit this year,” said Central Kitsap head coach Bill Baxter. “He comes in, attacks the strike zone and gets ahead in the count. He’s got good off-speed stuff and he’s got confidence in throwing it.”
Lindstrom did get off to a slightly rocky start; he walked the first batter he faced, North Kitsap leadoff man Jared Reister, but then successfully picked him off at first base. Two batters later, Cougars catcher Justin Baldoria threw out Richardson trying to steal second base after he also reached via the free pass.
Meanwhile, the Central Kitsap offense rallied thanks to a few well-placed hits.
Kaden McDowell and Easton Herdman led off the bottom of the fourth with back-to-back bloop singles that fell in just beyond the edge of the infield. After a walk and a popout, Geordan Kawahara singled with the bases loaded to cut North Kitsap’s lead to 4-2.
The next batter, Greyson McCormick, grounded a ball to third base. Chris Schuchart charged in and threw out Herdman at home, but a subsequent bad throw allowed McCormick to reach on the fielder’s choice and Baldoria to score. Carson Wiler then flared a single into the outfield to score two more runs and give the Cougars a 5-4 lead.
“A few bloopers here and there got the job done,” Lindstrom said.
Central Kitsap tacked on an insurance marker in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI-single by Joshua Flaugher. Nathan DeSchryver led off the inning with a walk and then stole second, setting up the sophomore backstop to line a ball right back up the middle to score the run.
“The kids work hard,” Baxter said. “Even in the last game we lost [against Bellarmine] we came back, they’re always coming back and battling. That’s a really good quality to have in a group of kids.”
For the away team’s part, North Kitsap looked like it might run away with this non-league game early.
Colton Bower came through with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first with a solid single to left field. Schuchart’s RBI-single in the third gave the Vikings a 4-1 lead, and it looked like they had all the momentum until Lindstrom came on and quieted their bats.
Gowin was the starting pitcher for North Kitsap and he gave up just one unearned run in three innings. He also had a rare four-strikeout inning in the top of the first as Central Kitsap’s leadoff hitter, Kawahara, reached on a dropped third strike.
“I thought we played well for the first game out, but there are things to clean up and do better,” said North Kitsap head coach Jeff Weible. “We looked at too many strike threes and we didn’t do a good job of throwing first-pitch strikes.”
Central Kitsap 6, North Kitsap 4
NK 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 — 4 6 3
CK 1 0 0 4 1 0 x — 6 10 1
WP: Lindstrom LP: Schmidt
North Kitsap — Gowin 3 IP, 4 H, BB, R, 0 ER, 4 K; Schmidt 3 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K.
Central Kitsap — Davies 3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K; Lindstrom 4 IP, H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.
North Kitsap — Bower 2-3, 2 RBI; Schuchart 1-2, RBI BB; Richardson 2-3, 2B, SB, BB, R; Gowin 1-2, BB, 2 R; Reister 0-1, 3 BB, R.
Central Kitsap — Wiler 1-3, 2 RBI; Kawahara 2-4, RBI, 2 R, SB; McMinds 1-3, 2B, RBI, BB; Flaugher 1-1, RBI; Herdmann 2-3; McDowell 2-3, R.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.