Sports

Bremerton gets MADD

Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer fires in the ceremonial first pitch at Olympic High School’s first Safety Game between the Trojans’ and Knights’ baseball squads. The event was sponsored by Kitsap’s chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer fires in the ceremonial first pitch at Olympic High School’s first Safety Game between the Trojans’ and Knights’ baseball squads. The event was sponsored by Kitsap’s chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

The Bremerton High School baseball squad has been learning that lesson this season, with two close losses to Olympic this week the latest examples of a competitive team striving to get over the hump.

And while the 5-4 and 4-3 losses to the Trojans were encouraging, Knights (2-14-1) coach Joe Whitsett said its little consolation for a team looking to win now.

“It feels good but it really doesn’t,” Whitsett said. “What does two wins mean? We want six or seven. It doesn’t matter how close you are. We want to win those games.”

In Tuesday’s game, the first in what Oly coach Nate Andrews hopes will become an annual Mothers Against Drunk Driving-sponsored game, the Trojans built an early 5-1 lead through three innings due to a couple Knights errors.

Bremerton battled back however, narrowing the gap to 5-4 when the team’s final rally came to an end.

“It says that our kids are competitive,” Whitsett said. “Unfortunately, you can’t make errors with two outs. You just can’t do it. That’s what happened early in the game.”

Trace Jordan had a great game for Bremerton, going 3-4 with an RBI. Fellow senior Josh Horst was 1-3 but drove in a pair. Jordan also pitched the complete game for the Knights, settling down after a rocky start.

“It means a lot,” Whitsett said of the duo’s efforts this season. “But we need nine players to play like that.”

The Trojans started Ronnie Purser, who went five strong innings before Austin Manson took over in the sixth.

“Ronnie pitched well enough to get the win,” Andrews said. “Austin came in and closed the door. We’re just trying to get on a little bit of a roll here. If we can get a little bit better, just get on a roll, we can do it.”

Whitsett said he was happy with his team’s bats against the consistent Purser.

“But I’m proud of the kids’ hitting,” he said. “The kids made a quick adjustment with him.”

Bremerton again rallied from a 3- deficit before falling Wednesday. Horst was stellar at the plate, going 3-3 while Bucky Bakuku was 12 with an RBI double. Jordan was 1-2 with an RBI and Brandon Hansen went 1-2 with a double. Horst started and pitched well despite being charged with the loss.

The Knights are doing what they can to improve, Whitsett said, but added that now it’s on the players to produce on the field.

“It takes accountability,” Whitsett said. “It takes determination from the first inning through the seventh inning. We’ve taught them everything to know about baseball. But it comes down to accountability. Just like with any sport, each kid has to do his job.”

Ultimately though, Whitsett said more work is needed before Bremerton can bounce back on the baseball map.

“It’s a grass roots issue,” he said. “A lot of work needs to be done. We need to get the younger guys involved. We need solid coaches at the middles schools. And we need a strong weight training program.”

And while things are moving in the right direction, Whitsett said that’s little consolation to seniors like Horst and Jordan that have bled Bremerton blue and gold throughout their high school careers.

“It’s encouraging for the future because it shows we can compete,” Whitsett said. “But it doesn’t do anything for our seniors.”

MADD game a success

Tuesday’s game, played at Kitsap Fairgrounds Ballfields, was the first Safety Night for OHS baseball. Kitsap County MADD Chapter President Marsha Masters was on hand to help provide facts to Oly’s announcers for address system broadcast. The car driven by 2003 Central Kitsap High School grad Heather Meadows, killed two years ago in a head-on collision by a drunk driver, was also on display.

“It made an impact,” Masters said of the car display. “Sometimes it’s a big impact. It can be pretty emotional for people to see that.”

Andews came up with the idea for the baseball contest after helping put together the MADD-sponsored OHS staff and Kitsap County Sherrif’s Deputies game last winter. But the idea also stemmed from first-hand experience with how painful the consequences of drunk driving can be.

“I lost a close friend when I was in 10th grade,” Andrews said. “He chose to drink and drive. That’s how I learned not to drink and drive. I don’t want kids to learn that same way.”

Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, also taking time to chat with fans and players.

“I think people had a lot of fun with it,” Andrews said. “I’m glad the sheriff came out. He had a lot of fun with it.”

The teams themselves enjoyed the game, as many Bremerton and Olympic players know each other off the field. Getting a night game in was also fun, Andrews said.

“I think that’ll be a fun thing to do,” Andrews said. “I’d love to play Bremerton every year. The guys know each other. We’ll see how it goes. The kids like playing under the lights.”

Masters, a former OHS staffer, said she too hopes the game will continue in future seasons.

“Absolutely,” Masters said. “It’s just tremendous for us. We have a whole unique county here. People are so supportive. We are just so fortunate to have all these people here in the county.”

Peninsula captures

league crown

The Peninsula Seahawks claimed the Olympic League baseball title with a 4-3 win against Port Angeles on Tuesday.

The Seahawks (16-0) are currently ranked fourth in the state amongst 3A competition state wide according to washingtonbaseballpoll.com.

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