Jackets begin '06 campaign with a win

While Kitsap BlueJackets coach Matt Acker was certainly happy his team walked away with an opening-day win, the victory was bittersweet.

Up 4-2 over the Tacoma Cardinals in the bottom of the seventh inning, BlueJackets first baseman Brian Burmester burst from second base on a single by Brett Kaluza, intending on putting the final run on a game about to be called for rain.

With Burmester rounding third and coming in hard toward home, the Tacoma Cardinals' Aaron Tea started a relay through to shortstop Jonathan Hagen, who fired to catcher Jake Roy. The beautifully-executed relay was ahead of Burmester. Both Burmester and Roy braced for collision, but Burmester chose the low road while Roy chose the high.

The ensuing collision left Burmester flat on his back in the mud, unsure of his surroundings.

"He had major memory loss," Acker said after Thursday's win. "He kept asking, 'How did I get on base?' 'A walk.' 'Did I score?' 'No.'"

The loss hit Acker hard, as Burmester is one of four returners and a fan favorite at Kitsap Fairgrounds Ballfields. But as former University of Washington coach Bob MacDonald reassured him after the game, sending the runner was the right call.

"It's like coach MacDonald said. That's standard baseball," Acker said. "You hold him up and he pulls a hamstring.

"I like Brian a lot. It bothers me. We never want to see that happen."

While it is unknown how long Burmester will be out (as much as two weeks is possible) as a result of the concussion, Acker said he was in much better condition last night at Harrison Hospital.

Overall, the BlueJackets looked a much stronger team than a year ago, with timely hitting, clutch defense and solid base running contributing to the win.

After going down 2-0 in the top of the fourth, Burmester drew a one-out walk and scored when a single by right fielder Stephen Herzog was misplayed in right field, with Herzog ending up on third. An RBI single by Kaluza, who went 4-4 in his debut with a pair of RBI, then scored Herzog to even the score. Left fielder Doug Buser then scored in the fifth on an RBI single by third baseman Danny Meier. The final run scored in the bottom of the seventh with Joash Brodin, who was hit by a pitch to get aboard and stole second, came home on another Herzog single. Herzong finished 2-4 with a run and two RBI.

Starter Kyle Cline, another returner, pitched six solid innings in win, giving up just two runs on two hits while striking out four. Ted Gjeldum got the save for the Jackets.

The BlueJackets played Tacoma again last night with results unavailable at press time. The two squads go at it again Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the gate or via telephone at (360) 479-0123.

Short hops

The BlueJackets honored the Sullivan family at the opener, which was sponsored by KPS Health Plans. Joe Sullivan was an original BlueJacket and Major Leaguer who helped Detroit win the 1935 World Series. Joe's second wife Marge, sister Harriet Morton and her husband Jim and a host of other family came to the ball game... The BlueJackets are looking for are youth baseball teams throughout the county for Little League Days at the Ballpark. For more information about the program, contact operations coordinator Matt Atwell at (360) 782-0775.

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