Sports

Kitsap BlueJackets eyeing playoff spot as season nears end

Kitsap BlueJackets starting pitcher Cody Hebner hurls a pitch during his team’s 9-8 win Tuesday over the Kelowna Falcons at Gene Lobe Field at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. - Wesley Remmer/staff photo
Kitsap BlueJackets starting pitcher Cody Hebner hurls a pitch during his team’s 9-8 win Tuesday over the Kelowna Falcons at Gene Lobe Field at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

More than halfway through the season, the Kitsap BlueJackets are in position to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Kitsap (19-15) moved closer to second place in the West Coast League West Division with a 9-8 victory over the Kelowna Falcons Tuesday at Gene Lobe Field at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. The Jackets trail the Corvallis Knights (19-14) by one-half of a game.

The top two teams reach the playoffs.

“We are in a good position,” coach Matt Acker said. “We’ve played consistently all year, which is kind of the key.”

The Jackets returned home this week after playing 12 games in as many days, including nine straight on the road. The club played .500 ball over the span, going 6-6 and keeping pace with the Knights in the race for the second and final playoff berth.

But Kitsap has yet to string together a long series of victories, something both the Knights and the first-place Bend Elks (24-12) have already accomplished. Bend went 10-0 between June 20 and 30, and Corvallis won seven straight between June 23 and July 3.

The Jackets’ longest winning streak is four.

“We haven’t gone on one of those 10-game monsters,” Acker said. “We’ve done things by staying consistent, but at the same time, we’re waiting for that run.”

The run may come soon.

With 14 league games remaining entering Wednesday’s contest against Kelowna, from which results were unavailable at press time, Acker’s squad is in the midst of its easiest stretch on the schedule.

Eight of the club’s final 13 contests are at home. Five of them are against teams with winning records. And only two of the matches, the last series of the season against the Wenatchee AppleSox (18-13), are against teams with a better record.

“When I saw the schedule before the season, I wanted to have all our guys here early,” Acker said, reasoning he wanted the club to establish chemistry early in the season. “I knew that if we could survive and play consistent, the back end of the schedule would be pretty favorable.”

The Jackets finished in last place in 2009 and also missed the playoffs in 2008, following the club’s first-ever postseason berth in 2007.

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