Sports

Kitsap gets blast from its own short past

Kitsap’s Ross Humes will return to the team this weekend after taking WCCBL Pitcher of the Year honors last season. - Jesse Beals/file photo 2006
Kitsap’s Ross Humes will return to the team this weekend after taking WCCBL Pitcher of the Year honors last season.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/file photo 2006

Kitsap’s already strong pitching staff is about to get even stronger.

The BlueJackets, with a team ERA of 1.95 in West Coast Collegiate Baseball League play so far this summer, are second in the league at the category, trailing only Corvallis (Ore.). But that number figures to get a little lower after the team announced Monday that ’06 Jacket Ross Humes, the WCCBL Pitcher of the Year last season, will make his return to the team this weekend in Wenatchee.

“We’re very excited,” Jackets coach Matt Acker said. “Not only did Ross have an unbelievable season at Washington State (University), but he’s also the returning WCCBL Pitcher of the Year. He brings confidence, experience. He brings so much to the table.”

Last season, Humes, a soft-tossing lefty known for his red hair, goofy grin and goofier personality, was 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA in a league-leading 71 2/3 innings last year, striking out 63 while walking just 11. A sophomore at WSU, Humes was made closer, going 3-3 in 25 relief appearances for the Cougars, posting a 4.70 ERA with 12 saves in the process. But Acker said the school may want to try Humes as a starter next season. As a result, Acker said Humes will start his 2007 Jackets season in the pen during this weekend’s trip to Wenatchee, a team Kitsap just swept, before eventually returning to the rotation.

“We have a very good pitching staff already,” Acker said. “It really helps. When he goes out there, you’ve got a heck of a chance to win a game.”

With players like Barrett Kanyer, a WSU reliever, seeing some rotation time this summer, the reacquisition of Humes will allow the staff to return to more natural roles.

“It makes it a lot stronger,” Acker said. “It makes everybody better. It makes us a lot more dynamic as a pitching staff.”

Never one to keep quiet, Humes was a big part of the team’s chemistry in 2006. As a result, Acker said it will be easy for him to rejoin his teammates, old and new.

“It’s big. Coming in will be seamless for him,” Acker said. “Some of the kids, it takes a little while to get used to what we’re doing.”

Humes was originally going to pitch in the Cape Cod League this summer, but had to enroll in summer school at WSU. Acker said it was an easy choice on both ends when Humes needed to resume pitching.

“We have the opportunity for him to throw,” he said. “He wants to be here. We can help him be better and he knows that.

He makes us better and he knows that.”

Humes isn’t the only new face on the Jackets roster.

Citing concerns about playing time, Rhode Island infielder Jack Greenberg and Austin Peay State’s Matt Kole both left last week.

As a result, the team also picked up Aaron Johnson, a 2006 Central Kitsap graduate.

Johnson already made an impact with the Jackets last weekend, helping Kitsap (14-5, 7-4) sweep defending two-time WCCBL champs Wenatchee with a 3-1 win Friday and a 5-4 win Saturday. The team beat the AppleSox (4-8) 5-3 Thursday in the series opener.

“It was definitely good for our organization as a whole,” Acker said. “Sweeps are really difficult to come by, especially against a team the quality of Wenatchee.”

The sweep put Kitsap in a second-place tie in the West Division with Bend (Ore.), who the Jackets hosted Thursday night. Results of that contest were unavailable at press time. The games, as always, are broadcast online at the BlueJackets’ Web site, www.kitsapbluejackets.com. The games are replayed for 20 hours a day.

In Tuesday’s series opener, Kitsap thumped Bend 8-2, but needed 6 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to do it. Howe and designated hitter Keegan McCamment stole the show, with Howe pitching seven, 4-hit innings allowing just one run. McCamment led the offense with a 4-4 effort that included 4 RBI.

Wednesday, Kitsap won again, extending the team’s win streak to six games in topping the Elks (5-6)6-4, with Hagen picking up his third league save. The Jackets’ six runs came on just four hits, thanks largely to a two-run bomb by center fielder Brandon Kuykendall, his first of the year. Travis McKracken got the win in relief, entering the game in the sixth inning.

The BlueJackets traveled to Wenatchee yesterday for a three-game series with the AppleSox.

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