BlueJackets heating up

Kitsap BlueJackets shortstop Brandon Decker fires the ball to the plate against the Bellingham Bells Tuesday. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Kitsap BlueJackets shortstop Brandon Decker fires the ball to the plate against the Bellingham Bells Tuesday.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

Runs coming across in bunches for Kitsap.

The Kitsap BlueJackets appeared to mirror the Seattle Mariners through the early part of the 2008 West Coast Collegiate Baseball League season.

With slow bats, sloppy gloves and spotty pitching, the BlueJackets struggled to an 0-6 league start out of the gate, first getting swept by rivals Corvallis (Ore.) before dropping three in a row to Wenatchee to open a six-game road trip.

Since then, however, the BlueJackets have been on fire, sweeping Moses Lake to finish the trip on a high note before taking the first two this week at home against rival Bellingham.

The BlueJackets slammed the Bells (4-7) into submission Wednesday, hitting not one but two grand slams in a 16-3 win.

The action started early when Max Kwan launched a bases-loaded big-fly to score Lawson Hipps, Bucky Aona and Central Kitsap product Aaron Johnson, capping a six-run first inning. Kwan finished 2 for 3 with a run and 4 RBI.

The Jackets then added seven more in the fourth when Keegan McCamment took a bases-juiced pitch yard, this time scoring Hipps, Aona and Justin Shultz. McCamment went 2 for 5 with a run and four RBI.

Aona had a strong bat in the game as well, finishing 2 for 4 with two runs and three RBI, while starter Alec Reichle threw five innings of three-hit shutout ball to earn his first win of the season.

The Jackets edged the Bells 5-4 Tuesday in exciting fashion, as the game was tied 4-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Hipps reached on an error to start and moved to second when Kwan grounded out to the mound. Shultz was then intentionally walked. That brought up Jake Owens, who singled into left field. Hipps tried to come in but was thrown out at the plate before Tacoma call-up Kyle Baskett, in his Jackets’ debut, singled to score Shultz, the winning run. Baskett finished 2 for 5 with a run and an RBI in his Jackets’ debut. Doug Buser was 2 for 4 for Kitsap, scoring a run while stealing two bases. Mike Wolford got the win as the BlueJackets used six pitchers in the game.

The offensive output has been nice, as Wednesday’s game was the second double-digit blowout in a week for Kitsap. The BlueJackets wrapped up the road trip last Sunday with an 18-5 win against Moses Lake. Johnson was huge in that game, finishing 4 for 6 with five RBI, one shy of Kevin Corrigan’s team record, set in 2006. Buser scored a team-record four runs in the game, topping the previous record of three by six former Jackets and current infielder Brandon Decker.

The BlueJackets hit the road again for Bend last night, with results of that game as well as Thursday’s game with the Bells unavailable at press time. Kitsap returns home July 1, hosting Moses Lake at 7 p.m.

Short hops

The BlueJackets have parted ways with Central Kitsap grad and third baseman Tyler Owens, who played for Kitsap coach Matt Acker at Green River Community College before heading to New Mexico State University this fall. Owens was hitting just .143 (2 for 14) before he was let go.

Former BlueJacket Jamie Nilsen, who was undrafted after setting five single-season Great Northwest Athletic Conference records with Central Washington University, inked a free agent contract with the Kansas City Royals last week. Nilsen, a two-time GNAC Player of the Year, will join the Royals’ Arizona League affiliate, the Surprise Royals. Nilsen’s already played two games, going 2 for 8 with a homer, a run and two RBI. He hit a two-run homer in his pro debut on Monday.

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