GIG HARBOR — With both teams scoring in each of the first two innings, it looked as if the last club to score was going to win. Unfortunately for North Kitsap baseball, that rang true. Peninsula High School continued to circle the bases throughout the game while the Vikings were held from scratching across any runs following the second inning. They took the non-league loss by a score of 8-3.
Seahawks junior Griffin Bakken was lights-out on the mound for the latter half of the game. He gave up just one hit in the five innings he pitched while striking out four North Kitsap batters.
“I just felt like I was on it today,” Bakken said after the game. “My pitchers were coming out good. A couple slipped away from me, but other than that, I was locating well.”
The Vikings barreled up to a few pitches Bakken threw. However, the Seahawks defense didn’t allow a North Kitsap athlete to reach second base following the second inning.
“We had a couple miscues early,” Peninsula head coach Kevin Owens said after the game. “But completely clean after that … A huge focus for us is managing the pitch count for our pitchers and making routine plays.”
There were a few opportunities mixed in for the Vikings with senior Peter Klos reaching on a single in the fourth inning, junior Kyle Green working a walk in the fifth and junior Isaac Richardson wearing a pitch as he got plunked in the seventh. All came when there were already two outs, though.
North Kitsap head coach Jeff Weible said to score more runs, his team needed to do a better job in hitter’s counts.
“We’re getting [two balls, no strikes; three balls, one strike] and we’re not doing a real good job of looking for our pitch,” he said. “When we do swing, it seems like we’re late and we’re getting jammed … When we get in hitter’s counts, we have to be more aggressive.”
Somewhat lost in the match was the first two innings in which the Vikings came out firing offensively. They jumped to a quick 2-0 lead on a walk and three singles in the opening frame. North Kitsap got another run in the second when Klos walked, stole second base and scored on a double by Richardson.
But from then, the momentum shifted in favor of the Seahawks.
Despite the fact that Richardson, who was the starting pitcher for the Vikings, struck out the side in the first inning, he didn’t come away unscathed. He allowed a walk and a couple base hits in the inning, giving up three runs. That would have been lessened had there not been a couple mistakes both behind and in front of him.
Peninsula senior Nicholas Eberhardt struck out in what should have been the final out of the frame. The ball touched the turf on strike three, so Eberhardt took off for first base. Vikings catcher Kyle Green just needed to toss the ball to first to complete the strikeout, but he instead followed Eberhardt with the ball in his hand, hoping to place a tag on him.
Eberhardt outran Green and — as rare as it may sound — reached first base on a swinging strikeout. Not to mention, Seahawks sophomore Reid Sturn reached on a routine ground ball hit directly to shortstop a few batters before.
“[Richardson] didn’t get a lot of help defensively,” Weible said. “His line probably doesn’t look as good as his spin, but he’s been our number one guy so far this year.”
Although this was a non-league game, Weible said of course he wanted to see his team win. However, losing came with some benefits as well.
“We’re so young, it’s kind of a day-to-day process,” he said. “We purposely schedule these types of games the day before spring break. It’s good competition and makes us mentally tougher. We’re going to get better with every game and every day.”
Due to spring break, the Vikings don’t have any games scheduled until a 4:15 p.m. home matchup on April 11 against Port Angeles.
— Jacob Moore is a reporter for Kitsap Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JMooreKDN.