Central Kitsap ruined Gig Harbor’s senior day party, escaping with a 4-3 victory on a sunny Thursday afternoon.
Senior and all-league third baseman Sterling Brown reflected on his final home game, admitting it would have been nice to leave on a high note.
“It’s heartbreaking, it’d be a lot better feeling if we could get the W after leaving,” Brown said. “We all expect it to be our last game. Just depending on the outcome would change the feeling of it a lot more.”
The Tides (12-6 overall, 9-3 Narrows League 4A) had already locked up the No. 2 spot in the league and didn’t need to beat Central Kitsap (7-12 overall, 3-9 Narrows League 4A) for a playoff berth or positioning. Still, the team wants to win every game, and Gig Harbor head coach Pete Jansen said motivation wasn’t an issue.
“They’re the last-place team, but they’ve played seven or eight one-run games,” Jansen said. “When we played them last time, we beat them by one run. So, not at all. That didn’t come into play at all.”
The Tides got off to a good start, jumping out to a 3-1 lead after four innings. In the bottom of the fourth, the Tides scored two runs — one on a balk by the Central Kitsap pitcher, and the second on a Barnett RBI double. But the Cougars battled back in the top of the fifth, scoring on a single and then a two-run homer to deep center field to take the 4-3 lead. The Cougars managed to hang on for the victory, although just barely.
The Tides put a scare into Central Kitsap in the home seventh, putting two runners on with only one out. The Cougars intentionally walked Tides senior Mark Sluys, loading the bases for Brown. Brown reached on a fielder’s choice and Carlson, the Tides last hope, struck out to end the game. Even though the fifth inning was the most glaring for Gig Harbor, Jansen doesn’t like to single out one inning.
“No, it doesn’t (come down to one bad inning),” Jansen said. “They got an unearned run earlier in the game. Some innings stand out more than others. Sure, that looks like that was it right there, but there’s other places in the game — the last inning, we had a chance to win it. Had a couple of guys up. It’s easy to focus on one thing, especially when it’s a big inning.”
Before the loss, the Tides had won three in a row, including an 11-0 thrashing of Olympia the day before. All in all, it’s been a successful season for the Tides.
“It’s been a great season so far,” Jansen said. “It’s still going. We have a lot of people who are contributing, some of the young guys that are stepping up. We’re just trying to pick up our momentum. Yesterday’s game was the best game of the year. So we want to build off that.”
Brown said the team will learn from the loss and continue to build toward the playoffs.
“We’ve got good momentum going right now, and we’ve got a new pitcher added to the rotation,” he said. “For playoffs, if we’re just able to carry momentum, stay focused, we’re looking good for playoffs. We won’t let this affect us too much.”Jon Manley: 253-358-4151 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @gateway_jon