CENTRALIA — North Kitsap was victorious in its first game of the 2A state baseball tournament May 19 at Wheeler Field, an 11-1 win over Centralia, but fell in the second round against a tough W.F. West squad, 8-6, to bring the Vikings’ season to an end.
The Vikings breezed by the Tigers in game one, scoring nine runs in the first two innings.
Issac Richardson led off the game with a single and No. 2 hitter Josh Fisher reached base on an error. Back-to-back RBIs by Ryan Hecker and Tucker Gowin gave the Vikings a 2-0 lead.
Kyle Green blasted a two-run double in the second and Hecker drove in two more as the team batted around in the second inning, pushing seven runs across the plate.
Hecker threw three innings on the mound, totaling 35 pitches before exiting the game so he could throw a few innings against W.F. West. Head coach Jeff Weible said he was initially hesitant to go that route, knowing his team had not actually wrapped up the game, but Jordan Robbins and Kaden Storm combined to allow just one run and four hits over the final two innings to seal the win.
Their opponent in game two was a powerful Bearcats team that went 15-0 in the Evergreen Conference and entered with the game with a 20-2 record.
But as good as W.F. West is, the Vikings hurt their own cause plenty with four errors in the field and more than 10 runners left on base in the 8-6 loss. Defensive slips had been the Achilles heel for North Kitsap this year.
“You can’t give a team that many chances. They’ll eventually make you pay,” Weible said.
However, despite the lapses, North Kitsap was in it all the way to the end. In the fourth inning, a Hecker sacrifice fly and an RBI double by Gowin tied the game at three, and they then went ahead on a Bearcats error. Gowin, Max Larsen and Peter Klos each recorded multiple hits in the contest.
Down 8-5 in the seventh, Green rapped a double to cut the deficit to two, but that’s as close as the Vikings would get. W.F. West pitcher Brock Jones induced a flyout to end the game.
North Kitsap will lose three seniors to graduation — Hecker, Klos and Robbins. While Hecker is, of course, the ace of the staff and won the Olympic League Most Valuable Player as a junior, Robbins and Klos were expected to have smaller roles this season and filled in admirably, having a much larger impact on the team than expected.
Robbins got off to a hot start and consequently never left the lineup, having originally been seen as the team’s fourth outfielder and No. 4 pitcher. Hecker’s early season injury — along with a season-ending injury to No. 2 pitcher Jared Reister — gave both Robbins and Klos a chance to shine and they took full advantage.
“Both really exceeded expectations,” Weible said. “They did a great job being good leaders. We’re happy for those kids that they can end their career like that.”
Next year, North Kitsap returns league MVP Kyle Green, first-team DH Tucker Gowin and a number of sophomore and juniors who gained valuable experience this year in reaching the second regional round of the state tournament.
“We’re really excited as a coaching staff what we have coming back,” Weible said. “We’ll get Reister back, we’ve got a couple of really good freshmen that could battle for spots and a couple of talented eighth graders too.”
North Kitsap 12, Centralia 1
CN 0 0 0 1 0 — 1 5 2
NK 2 7 3 0 x — 12 12 0
WP: Hecker LP: Selstrom
Centralia — Selstrom 4 IP, 12 H, 12 R, 11 ER, 4 BB, 3 K.
North Kitsap — Hecker 3 IP, H, 4 K; Robbins IP, 3 H, R, ER, BB; Storm IP, H.
Centralia — Selstrom 1-2, BB; Frias 1-2, R; Bearstro 1-2, RBI.
North Kitsap — Hecker 2-3, 3 RBI; Green 1-2, 2B, R, BB, 2 RBI; Gowin 2-3, R, 4 RBI; Richardson 3-3, 3 R, BB, SB, RBI; Klos 2-3, RBI; Chmielewski 1-3, R, RBI; Larsen 0-2, BB, R; Robbins 1-3; Fisher 0-2, HBP, BB, 3 R.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com.