Sports

Jackets finish up at home, start road trip rough

BlueJacket shortstop Jake Wheeler unloads a throw to first base in Friday’s narrow 2-1 loss. The BlueJackets finished its longest homestand of the season at 4-4. Kitsap returns home on Monday against Aloha. - Photo by Jesse Beals
BlueJacket shortstop Jake Wheeler unloads a throw to first base in Friday’s narrow 2-1 loss. The BlueJackets finished its longest homestand of the season at 4-4. Kitsap returns home on Monday against Aloha.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Frank Allen stood up before the start of the bottom of the ninth inning of Saturday’s Kitsap BlueJackets game.

The young cornetist who performed the National Anthem prior to the game and Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch, stood up for one more performance, sending the Darth Vader theme from the popular Star Wars movies throughout Fairgrounds Ballfields.

Allen’s selection was fitting, forecasting impending doom for Portland pitcher Craig Neu. The BlueJackets were able to break a 5-5 tie against Neu, with Kitsap third baseman Kiki Castro driving in the game-winning run on a one-out, bases loaded single to hand the BlueJackets a 6-5 win.

But despite the win, Portland would best the BlueJackets in the three-game series, winning Friday’s game 2-1 and Sunday in an 11-inning nail biter, 5-4.

The BlueJackets then fell to Kirkland, 6-2 Monday in an exhibition game that left the team 4-4 in their longest home stand of the season.

On Saturday’s win, Castro said he was happy things were starting to come together at the plate for him. Castro went 4-5 with a run and 2 RBI.

“(Friday) I came off the bench and didn’t do the job,” Castro said. “I went and talked to my hitting coach asked him to help me more one-on-one.”

Castro said he simply wasn’t feeling relaxed, getting anxious at the plate and having problems seeing the ball. Castro, who hit .343 this year for Green River Community College, is hitting just .211 through the first half of West Coast Collegiate Baseball League. But with a big game, Castro feels like he’s ready to break out.

“It feels pretty good I’ll say,” Castro said. “I finally put it all together.”

“Kiki is a heck of a ballplayer,” BlueJackets manager Matt Acker said. “We’ve known it all year. But this is a different level. We know he can perform at this level. (Saturday) reaffirmed in his eyes that he can.”

The offense has been the source of Kitsap’s largest frustrations this year, hitting just .228 as a team, lowest in the WCCBL.

“We need to make a run right here,” Acker said. “It’s why we brought Gabe (Riley) in. We have everything. Pitching, defense, hitters. We just have to put it all together.”

Acker and Portland manager Michael Clark were both ejected from the game after a heated shouting match. But Acker said it’s all part of playing close games to win.

“It definitely brings out all emotions,” he said.

With the season half over, Acker said he knows the BlueJackets can still play with the top teams, including WCCBL leader Aloha (15-3 in WCCBL play). He recognizes that will be a challenge too.

“But they’re beatable,” Acker said. “All we need to do is go on a little run. All we have to go on in a little run and we’re in

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