EAST BREMERTON — North Kitsap got sweet, sweet revenge against the Port Angeles Roughriders, who beat them twice in the regular season, trouncing its Olympic League foe 9-2 in the district semifinals.
The Vikings would fall later in the day to Fife in the championship game, but they are through to the next round. North Kitsap will head to Wheeler field in Centralia for a 10 a.m. loser-out state playoff game May 19. A win would give them a second match later in the day.
Against Port Angeles, North Kitsap ace Ryan Hecker was in good form, striking out eight batters over six innings. He didn’t give up his first hit until the fourth and Port Angeles did not get on the scoreboard until the sixth after Hecker had sat on the bench for more than 20 minutes as his team batted around and scored five runs. But after giving up two runs on three hits and a walk, he struck out three straight to close the inning, once again flashing his potential to shut down any lineup in the state.
“I’ll throw him against anybody,” said head coach Jeff Weible.
Hecker was also a major part of that fateful sixth inning, blasting a double to right field that hit off the top of the fence to score two runs. He was preceded by Kyle Green, who singled home a pair of runs as well. Thanks to some successful sacrifice bunts earlier in the game, the Roughriders began to feel some pressure as two bunts ended up as throwing errors, which helped put the big bats in position to make them pay.
It was the kind of inning that occasionally eluded this young team during the regular season, especially against top competition, but experience has certainly given them more confidence in key situations as the year has gone on.
“Now we’re really jelled and we were able to show PA how good we are,” Hecker said.
North Kitsap attempted to defend its district crown against Fife, but a first inning error led to four runs and eventually an 8-4 loss. Only three of the eight runs against starter Isaac Richardson were earned.
However, the Vikings did make it a game. Down 5-1 in the fourth, Gowin hit a two-run homer to left to cut the lead to 5-3. Richardson helped himself with an RBI single in the top of the sixth to bring North Kitsap within one.
But the error bug bit the Vikings again and Fife sophomore Jaren Larsen made them pay with a two-run single to left. Jake Lewis, who drove in three runs in the contest, added an RBI double.
“I’m not dissapointed at all,” Weible said. “We played a really good team and they swing the bat really well.”
North Kitsap 9, Port Angeles 2
NK 1 0 3 0 0 5 0 — 9 8 1
PA 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 — 2 6 4
WP: Hecker LP: Flodstrom
North Kitsap — Hecker 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K; Storm IP, 2 H, BB, K.
Port Angeles — Flodstrom 3 IP, 3H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 HB, 2 K; Merritt 2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, BB, 2 K; Shimko 2/3 IP, K; Seibel IP, K.
North Kitsap — Hecker 2-2, 2B, R, 3 RBI; Green 2-3, BB, 2 R, 2 RBI; Gowin 1-3, RBI; Fisher 1-4, 3 R; Robbins 0-2, BB, RBI; Klos 0-3, RBI.
Port Angeles — Jackson 2-4, R, 2B; Flodstrom 1-2, BB, RBI; McGuffey 2-4, RBI; Wood 1-3, R.
Fife 8, North Kitsap 4
NK 0 0 1 0 2 1 0 — 4 5 3
FE 4 0 0 1 0 3 x — 8 8 0
North Kitsap — Richardson 5 1/3 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 2 K; Robbins 2/3 IP, H.
Fife — J. Graham 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 6 BB, 6 K; Lewis 2 IP, 2 H, R, ER, BB, 3 K.
North Kitsap —Gowin 1-1, HR, 2 BB, 2 RBI; Richardson 1-3, BB, RBI; Klos 1-2, R, 2 BB; Robbins 1-4; Hecker 1-4.
Fife — Larson 3-4, R, 3 RBI; Lewis 2-4, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI; E. Graham 1-3, HR, RBI; Guerrero 1-3, R, BB; J. Graham 0-3, 2 R.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.