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Kitsap all-stars make their mark
Aona drives in run, finishes runner-up
The Kitsap BlueJackets didn’t have the most representatives at the 2008 West Coast Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game Tuesday.
With just four Jackets making the West Division All-Stars, only Moses Lake, which hosted the game, had fewer representatives (three).
But the impact of those Jackets proved vital as the West and East tied 2-2, the second all-star tie in the game’s three-year run. Last year, the East won 4-1 before a 6-6 tie two seasons ago.
“It was a good game,” said Kitsap coach Matt Acker, a spectator at the game. “That’s usually how they turn out.”
The West and Kitsap first baseman Bucky Aona (Southern Utah), playing designated hitter in the game, wasted little time in getting things going, slapping a two-out RBI single to score Corvallis’ (Ore.) Logan Lotti to give the West a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
That lead grew to 2-0 when BlueJackets’ second baseman Brandon Decker walked, stole second, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a passed ball.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as a two-run home run by Kelowna’s (British Columbia) Stephen Hagen in the bottom of the second set up the deadlocked score for the remainder of the nine-inning contest. Hagen was named MVP for his efforts.
Aona didn’t just make a splash in the game, however. The 6-foot-2-inch, 280-pound first baseman from Makakilo, Hawaii, smashed nine homers in the opening round of the pregame home run derby. He advanced to the finals, where he met up with Southern Utah teammate Nick Freitas. It was Freitas who would prevail, hitting four in the finals to Aona’s zero. Freitas also was hit by three pitches.
“Bucky absolutely did (crush the ball),” Acker said. “He was the first guy out. He got the crowd going.”
Corvallis closer Taylor Starr was named the game’s Top Prospect by WCCBL advisory board member Carl Moesche of the MLB Scouting Bureau. A number of scouts were in attendance.
While Aona (1-2, RBI, strikeout) and Decker (0-2, run, walk, stolen base) had the greatest success for Kitsap, outfielder Doug Buser (0-2, strikeout) and catcher/utility man Max Kwan (0-2, strikeout) also took the field for Kitsap.
“The boys came out and did a good job,” Acker said. “They played hard. I thought they represented us well.”
The BlueJackets (16-17) opened the second half of the season Thursday with a non-league home game against affiliate Olympia. Results of that contest were unavailable at press time. The team begins a three-game road trip at Spokane (14-15) today before returning home for three against Tacoma this Thursday.
Acker said he’s looking forward to the second half, as much of his team has been decimated by injuries this season. Fielders Kwan, Justin Shultz, Jordan Shadle, Jake Owens, Cody Bartlett and Aaron Johnson as well as pitchers Mike Wolford and Zach Miller have all been battling a variety of injuries throughout the year. Shultz is done for the season.
“We want to use (Thursday) to get some of those guys going,” Acker said. “We know how talented Jake Owens is and how talented Curtis Dupart is. We just need to give them a chance to get out there and get going.”
With a nine-game homestand to close out the season against Tacoma, Bend and Spokane, Acker said he likes where Kitsap is at.
“I’m not disappointed with where we’re at, at all,” Acker said. “We’re actually in a pretty good spot. We’re not in a bad position.”