UNIVERSITY PLACE — An early comeback and a three-run lead through four innings wasn’t enough for Central Kitsap’s baseball team as the Cougars lost to the Highclimbers from Shelton 8-5 in a seeding game at the West Central/Southwest District 3A tournament Saturday at Curtis High School.
The Cougars wound up in the third-fourth seeding game after dropping a 4-2 semifinal to Capital earlier in the day at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma.
It’s one thing to lose a game but for the Cougars to lose a game that had them on the winning side for most of it was irksome, to say the least.
Central Kitsap needs to find a way to put the throttle down when they have a team on the ropes or their trip to the Class 3A state tournament will be a short one, Cougars coach Bill Baxter lamented. CK will face O’Dea at 4 p.m. May 19 at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue.
“When we have a team down we’ve got to add on,” Baxter said. “We can’t walk guys and open up situations and that’s what we did here.”
Central led 1-0 in the top of the first on an RBI single by Carson Wiler. Shelton added two runs in the bottom half of the inning and it remained that way until the top of the third.
The Cougars tied the game on an RBI hit by Austin McMinds and Tristan Barr came through with a one-out single to give CK a 3-2 lead. Geordan Kawahara drove in two runs to make it 5-2.
CK held Shelton scoreless in the third fourth and fifth thanks to the work by pitcher Owen Davies who entered in relief in the second inning.
It was the sixth that proved troublesome.
Shelton scored six unanswered runs despite a pitching change by the Cougars after pulling Davies with a 5-3 lead. With the game tied 5-5, Shelton’s Caeleb Hitsman hit a two-run triple to deep-right field that proved to be the clincher as the Highclimbers went ahead 7-5.
“We just let up,” said CK’s McMinds, the starting catcher. “We didn’t play hard through the game. Not much we can do now. We should have left it all out there.”
CK wasn’t able to mount a rally in the top of the seventh and that’s something the Cougars will have to figure out by next week.
“That’s just a recipe for disaster,” Baxter said. “Now the guy gets ahead, now we make a boo-boo, now everything snowballs and now you’re down by two runs. We just, at this level, we can’t do that. If we do that next weekend we’re going to get really knocked around. We’ve got to do a better job of taking care of business.”