The Central Kitsap High School baseball team’s typical productive offense was quieted in a 2-1 close-call against Peninsula in its 3A District 3/4 tournament opener on Saturday.
But a six-hour layover between that game and the Cougars’ winner-to-state game against Wilson — as well as a refresher at a nearby Red Robin — seemed to wake them up.
Senior center fielder Evan Slate went 2 for 2 with three walks as part of Central Kitsap’s 15-hit effort in an 8-3 victory over Wilson at Heidelberg Park in a bidistrict quarterfinal that really could have been much worse for the Rams, who forced the Cougars to leave the bases loaded in five of six innings.
After winning the 3A Narrows League title, Central Kitsap (17-4) is guaranteed of its first state tournament appearance since 2010.
“This teams deserves it,” Slate said. “Each one of these guys has made an effort. We are a good hitting team and we are going to make a dent in the playoffs.”
Central Kitsap advances to face Kelso in the district semifinals at 10 a.m. Saturday at Auburn Mountainview High School.
Wilson (12-10) was the last team to beat the Cougars, who have won eight games since that 3-0 loss to the Rams on April 15. Wilson beat Bonney Lake, 3-2, in its early game Saturday behind a complete-game gem from junior pitcher Mack Larson.
The Rams, hoping for their first state berth since 2000, led Central Kitsap 1-0 after the first inning. The game was tied going into the bottom of the third before Nick Roberts put the Cougars up for good with a sacrifice fly.
Then the fourth. Roberts drove home Slate, Griffin McCormick followed with a sacrifice fly, and Isaiah McGee and Aki Buckson hit back-to-back RBI singles as Central Kitsap took a 6-1 lead.
“We just kind of came out flat,” interim Wilson coach Derek Lyons said. “We had some good innings and some bad innings.”
Wilson heads to the consolation bracket to face Shelton, which swept the two-game season series, at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Auburn Mountainview.
Auburn Mountainview 9, Columbia River 5: Justin Marsden had himself a day.
After pitching nine strikeouts in three innings in the Lions’ 10-0 win over Foss earlier in the day, Marsden hit a three-run home run as part of a nine-run fifth inning — all the runs coming with two outs — to rally Auburn Mountainview from a 5-0 deficit to defeat Columbia River and earn a state berth.
The Lions advance to the bidistrict semifinals to face Auburn Riverside at 1 p.m. Saturday at Auburn Mountainview.
Kelso 8, Sumner 6: Gage Whitehead gave the Spartans a 6-5 lead with a triple in the sixth inning but Kelso responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning and held on for the win.
Auburn Riverside 7, Kennedy Catholic 5: The Crusaders loaded the bases in the seventh inning but Aaron Nguyen shut them down to lift the Ravens to a state berth.
Garrett Miller and Noah Freelund broke up ae tie game in the sixth with a pair of sacrifice flies.