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Bremerton baseball: shorthanded, winless
For Ken Plowman, spring break can’t end soon enough.
Visibly disappointed following his team’s 14-0 loss at home against Sequim at Legion Field Tuesday, the Bremerton baseball coach pointed to the absence of three key players to explain the Knights’ recent shortcomings. Tuesday’s loss coupled with a 12-2 loss to Klahowya on Monday dropped the team to 0-5.
“I have three other starters on vacation for these games and, frankly, it’s killing us,” Plowman said. “I really have nothing, no replacements for those guys.”
Outfielders Charles Wilson and Billy Davenport and freshman shortstop Conner Wales, all of whom are on vacation, are out of the lineup until school resumes April 6. Without the trio, the Knights have dropped their past two games by a combined score of 26-2.
“We’re missing those kids for three and four games and I just don’t have the depth to replace those guys,” Plowman said.
He called Wales “arguably the best all-around player on the team” and said with Davenport and Wilson in the outfield, the Knights are as good defensively as any team in the Olympic League.
“They get out there with Ryan Storey (a starting outfielder) and they are all fast, a better outfield than I ever expected to have,” Plowman said. “But I haven’t had them.
“They also hit, have speed on the base paths ... pretty much took the gut right out of our team there. We’ll be back and hopefully it won’t take them long to get back to where they were before they left. Hopefully we can get on track here and get things going.”
The absence of Wilson and Davenport in the outfield glared during the sixth inning of Tuesday’s game when fill-in Jacob Thomas dropped a routine fly ball in left field that extended a five-run Sequim rally. On the play immediately before that, shortstop Rudy Buchta botched a ground ball, his second error of the game.
“When my whole outfield is here, I think I have the fastest outfield in the league, probably the best fielding outfield in the league,” Plowman said. “But when you take two of those guys out, suddenly I’ve got infielders trying to play outfield, and two of those guys are pitchers and maybe three. I really don’t have answers right now.”
The team also is without sophomore shortstop/pitcher Devin Garcia, who broke his hand early in the season. Plowman said Garcia would have been the starting shortstop and a reliable pitcher.
“He’s played a lot of ball, he’s got the best swing on the team,” Plowman said. “That was just a terrible loss right off the get.”
That leaves sophomore Max Hayes, who started against Sequim, senior Joel Brockman and junior Bret Brown as the team’s top arms. Last year, with then-senior and team ace Eli Olson starting most games, none of the three logged substantial innings.
Hayes lasted 3 1/3 innings Tuesday, giving up six runs on five hits and five walks. Brockman, who relieved Hayes, also allowed six runs, although three were unearned, walking three and striking out three in 2 1/3.
Despite the numbers, Plowman said he hasn’t been disappointed with the team’s pitching.
“Our pitchers actually have done a pretty good job,” he said.
At the plate, however, the numbers tell a startling story. Tuesday, the Knights managed just four base runners, all on walks, and were no-hit. The game ended after six innings rather than seven due to the 10-run “mercy rule.”
On Monday against the Eagles, BHS scored two runs before imploding in the sixth with the score tied 2-2, allowing 10 runs in the bottom half of the inning. Last week, Plowman said the Knights led Port Townsend 1-0 through five innings, but again gave up runs late to lose the game.
“Our hitting really has not been where I think it should be,” Plowman said. “I really don’t have any excuse for that, we work hard on it, we try to work out the bad habits and the kinks, but to me there doesn’t seem to be any retention. The next day they bring the same bad habits and kinks back to practice with them.”
Plowman said he puts the players through four hitting stations at practice and gives them as much “live” pitching as possible, but for whatever reason, the team tightens in game situations.
“I don’t think any of the pitching we’ve seen has been great pitching or overpowering. I think we’re lacking at the plate for some reason or another,” he said. “We haven’t gotten the clutch hits, we’ve had the bases loaded a time or two in every game and haven’t been able to capitalize on that. Really, we’re just not scoring enough runs. All I can say is we’re going to keep working at it.”
With more than half the schedule to play, the Knights have plenty of time to right the ship. And when Davenport, Wilson and Wales return, Plowman said he expects to see the team turn things around or at least move in the right direction.
“It’s kind of frustrating right now, so we’re going to keep working and keep trying,” he said. “We’ll get those kids back and hopefully we can get on track.”
BHS hosts North Mason at 4 p.m. Tuesday and visits Shelton at 4 p.m. April 10.