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North Kitsap baseball tops Franklin Pierce in district game

North Kitsap baseball tops Franklin Pierce in district game

North Kitsap’s baseball and boys soccer teams secured state berths with home victories Tuesday.

It wasn’t the prettiest hit of North Kitsap baseball player Alex Elton’s career, but it was effective — especially on a day when bright sunshine increased the difficulty of fielding fly balls.

The Vikings are back in the Class 2A state tournament after rallying to beat Franklin Pierce 2-1 in Tuesday’s West Central/SeaKing Bi-District tournament opener in Poulsbo. After North Kitsap (18-4) tied the game in the sixth inning, Elton provided the winning run for the Olympic League co-champions in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out fly ball that Franklin Pierce’s right fielder couldn’t get a glove on after struggling to track the ball in the sun.

“I hit it,” Elton said, “and I kind of had the suspicion he was going to drop it. And he did.”

North Kitsap, which is seeded No. 2 in district play, will face No. 6 Steilacoom in a semifinal game Saturday at Central Kitsap High School at 10 am No. 1 Enumclaw and No. 4 Port Angeles face off in the other semifinal at 1 pm at Central Kitsap, and the district title game is set for 4 pm

Although Tuesday’s contest wasn’t an elimination game, the benefit for the winner was securing a state berth, regardless of how Saturday unfolds. That’s why North Kitsap head coach Jeff Weible felt relieved that his team left the field with a victory despite struggling at the plate. A loss against Franklin Pierce would have put the Vikings back on the field Wednesday in a loser-out game.

“You have to win this one,” Weible said. “You want to get your spot locked up and get some rest and then be ready to go on Saturday and try to win this thing.”

Trailing 1-0, North Kitsap tied the game in the sixth following a walk and an RBI double by Tate Stearns. Jonathan Bourque pitched a clean inning in the top of the seventh after relieving starter Dawsyn Anderson, then led off the bottom of the seventh with a scorching fly ball that Franklin Pierce’s center fielder misplayed, allowing Bourque to reach third base.

Following a strikeout and a ground out, Elton came through with a swing that forced Franklin Pierce’s defense to make a play — and it couldn’t.

“The right fielder had to go a long ways and he’s looking into the sun,” Weible said. “Hey, we’ll take it.”

In other 2A West Central/SeaKing District tournament games Tuesday, No. 9 Kingston (11-10) pummeled No. 16 Evergreen at home 13-3. The Buccaneers, who saw head football coach Ethan Goldizen take over baseball coach Gerry Butler midseason, will play a loser-out game against Goldizen’s alma mater, No. 8 Olympic, on Wednesday at 4:15 pm at the Fairgrounds. Olympic (11-9) dropped a winner-to-state game against Enumclaw on Tuesday, 12-5. No. 15 North Mason saw its season conclude with a 1-0 defeat against No. 10 White River.

North Kitsap wasn’t the only baseball team to grab a state berth Tuesday. Sea-Tac League 1B champion Crosspoint edged Mount Vernon Christian 4-3 in a district semifinal game at the Fairgrounds. Protecting a one-run lead with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, senior Silas Stenerson closed the game with a strikeout. The Warriors will play for the district championship Thursday at 2 pm against Orcas Island at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.

Two other West Sound baseball teams were eliminated Tuesday, both suffering one-run defeats. Bainbridge (15-7) fell 3-2 at North Thurston in the 3A West Central/Southwest Bi-District tournament, while in the 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District tournament, South Kitsap (10-12) lost a 4-3 home game against Kentwood.