Corvallis Knights 6, Kitsap Blue Jackets 3 (13 innings)
The Kitsap Blue Jackets play their home games at the Kitsap Fairgrounds and Events Center near Bremerton, WA, which is a one-hour ferry ride west of Seattle.
A wild West Coast League evening started with the completion of a game that was suspended after 16 innings on June 17 with the score 1-1, because the lights went out at 11 PM. It took another four innings to settle it. Andy Bethel (Washington) hit a ball into shallow center field with the bases loaded in the bottom of the twentieth inning. The outfielder dropped it to allow the winning run to score. Cody Hevner (hasn’t picked a college yet) got the win, and Steve Kalush (Santa Clara) got the loss. Box score and play-by-play The Knights defeated the Blue Jackets 1-0 the previous night (Liam Baron [Linn-Benton CC] pitched a three-hit shutout), and Blue Jackets owner Rick Smith, a Bremerton attorney, was quick to point out that his team had held the Knights, ranked #3 nationally by Perfect Game Crosschecker, to a total of two runs over 29 innings.
This pattern continued into the regular scheduled game. Kalush remained on the mound as the starter for the Knights, and Kyle Hamman (Southern Utah) started for he Blue Jackets. The game was scoreless until the fourth inning, when the nights took a 2-0 lead on an RBI double by Dylan Jones (Mount Hood CC) and a sacrifice fly by Billy Clontz (Western Oregon). Kalush gave way to Trevor Smith (Linn-Benton CC) in the fifth inning, and Smith was relieved by Nick Hoover (UC-Irvine). The Knights added what appeared at the time to be an insurance run in the top of the eighth on an RBI double by D.J. Johnson (Mount Hood CC), and Hoover went into the bottom of the ninth with a shutout.
Hoover was chased when the Blue Jackets loaded the bases with a walk, a hit by Chris Escobar (U. of San Francisco), and Brandon Decker (San Diego State) reaching on an error on a ground ball to first that could have been a double play. Drew Leary (San Diego State) replaced Orozco, and the shutout ended with a sacrifice fly by Bucky Aona (Southern Utah). The Blue Jackets then tied it 3-3 with two out on a two-RBI double by Andrew Mistone (UC-Riverside). However, the Blue Jackets missed the chance to win it in regulation when Leary struck out
Tim Rupp (Southeast Missouri State).
The Blue Jackets had two more chances to win it in the 10th and 11th innings. Doug Buser (Seattle U.) started the 10th with a hit, was bunted to second, and balked to third. The Knights then walked the bases loaded, and Leary proceeded to strike out Aona on three pitches, and got a ground out by Cody Brooks (Saint Martin’s). In the 11th, Mistone drew a walk, went to second on a throwing error, then went to third on a wild pitch. Leary struck out Rupp and Buser to strand him.
The Knights finally moved out in front in the top of the 13th. They loaded the bases with no outs, then scored a run when Johnson hit a ground ball to first. The first baseman, Aona, made a bad throw to the plate, but it appeared that the catcher, Rupp, recovered and tagged the plate before the baserunner got there. The umpire ruled otherwise, and the Knights had a 4-3 lead. They added two more runs with a sacrifice fly by Rocky Gale (U. of Portland) and an RBI single by Pat Colwell (San Diego State).
The Blue Jackets still weren’t finished. They loaded the bases again on hits by Bethel, Mistone, and Rupp, but Jones, who moved from first base to the mound in the 12th inning, got two big strikeouts to get the win. Kelly Constantini (U. of San Francisco) got the loss.
The Blue Jackets are in their fifth season. Smith, who credits his experience as a catcher in high school and American Legion ball for helping him “to become an over-achiever”, had been interested in locating a team in Bremerton for a long time. (Bremerton had a minor league team in the late 1940’s.) The Blue Jackets were made possible when Kitsap County decided to improve the baseball facilities at the Fairgrounds, and Smith did a remarkable job of lining up support from local businesses. Attendance at home games this year has generally been in the 600-900 range (tonight’s attendance was 624), and the Blue Jackets drew 1,747 on July 4. The Blue Jackets have minor-league-level promotions, with a give-away nearly every inning; a strikeout by Clonz in the middle innings earned a free burrito for everyone with a ticket stub at Taco Bell. There’s a beer garden down the left-field line, and beers cost $2 during certain innings.
The West Coast League will have a team is Longview, WA next year, and Walla Walla, WA is close to getting a team.
Coming soon: a CBB visit to Bend Elks at Bellingham Bells.