Kitsap falls from first after Corvallis sweep

Kitsap’s Matt Rossman, shown here in his second start of the season against Corvallis (Ore.), has been used primarily as a reliever this year. He’s one of six BlueJackets to earn WCCBL All-Star Team nods this season. - Photo by Aaron Managhan
Kitsap’s Matt Rossman, shown here in his second start of the season against Corvallis (Ore.), has been used primarily as a reliever this year. He’s one of six BlueJackets to earn WCCBL All-Star Team nods this season.
— image credit: Photo by Aaron Managhan

If the Kitsap BlueJackets took one step forward in taking over first place in the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League’s West Division, then they just got done taking two back from where they came.

After taking over sole possession of first place with a series win against Wenatchee at the end of June, the BlueJackets started cold in a hot July, falling in two-of-three on the road to Bellingham before getting swept at home by Corvallis (Ore.), one of the team’s biggest rivals.

After Sunday’s 3-2 and 1-0 losses, Kitsap (22-10, 14-9) had lost three in a row and five of its last six, vaulting Corvallis (15-8) into first and Bend (Ore.; 14-9) into a tie with the Jackets for second.

While the team’s pitching has been as strong as ever, and the team’s bats continue to amass hits, it’s a lack of big hits in big situations that saw the BlueJackets drop from first to third on Sunday.

“That’s really what it was,” Kitsap first baseman Ryan Voelkel said. “We had runners on, we just couldn’t get key hits at the right moments.”

After winning 2-1 in another thriller with Bellingham Friday night, the Jackets fell 3-2 Saturday, then lost 1-0 in the first half of a double-header Sunday, followed by another 3-2 defeat.

While Voelkel and Kitsap coach Matt Acker both said Corvallis has a strong pitching staff, they also said the team’s own mistakes is what ultimately hurt them.

“Corvallis has a really good pitching staff,” Voelkel said. “And sometimes, you just hit the ball right at somebody.”

“They threw well and we made more mistakes than they did and we lost,” Acker said. “That’s just how it goes in this league. You make mistakes, you lose.”

Kitsap picked it right back up this week however, beating Bellingham 4-3 Tuesday and 7-6 Wednesday. Wednesday’s win came with a bases loaded walk-off walk by catcher Lawson Hipps. Kyle Nunley pitched six innings of four-hit ball in the win, but closer Joe Hagen earned the victory.

While neither Voelkel or Acker said the team had gotten too high off the recent brash of early-season success that had eluded the Jackets previously, Voelkel said the losses proved the team is still “human.”

“It kind of brings us down to earth,” he said. “We hadn’t lost at home yet. It lets us know we’re human.”

Three of the West’s four teams have winning records (Bellingham is the only one that does not at 9-14). In the East Division, only Moses Lake, a league-best 16-7, sports a winning record.

Perhaps the biggest help in preparation for the wins against the Bells games was simply having an off-day Monday.

“I think we’re gonna be fine,” Voelkel said.

Results of Thursday’s game with Bellingham were unavailable at press time. The team began a three-game series with Kelwona last night, but those results were also unavailable at press time. The Jackets host Kelwona again at 7 p.m. tonight.

Extra bases

Kitsap center fielder Doug Buser has quietly pieced together a six-game hitting streak for Kitsap heading into Thursday night’s game ... Six Kitsap players made the WCCBL West All-Star Team, announced this week. Pitchers Kyle Howe and Matt Rossman join Voelkel, infielder Jamie Nilsen and outfielders Brandon Kuykendall and Joey Lind as the BlueJackets’ representatives.

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