Coach Bill Baxter and the Central Kitsap baseball team can relax.
At least for one more week.
The Cougars clinched their second consecutive appearance in the 3A state baseball tournament with their 10-5 victory over Auburn Mountainview in the 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament on Saturday at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma.
Central Kitsap next plays Columbia River, which defeated Sumner 9-4, in the bidistrict semifinals at 10 a.m. Saturday at Auburn Riverside High School and secured a seed no worse than No. 4 from the district to the state tournament.
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Not that there were doubts the Cougars would get back after reaching the state semifinals for the first time in school history last year.
“It’s always big because baseball — it’s a funny game,” Baxter said. “One bad inning, one bad sequence here or there and it’s over.
“Now we know we can relax a little bit.”
The back-to-back 3A Narrows champions improved to 20-2. And there isn’t a high school pitcher around who wants to face this batting order.
University of Washington signee Nick Roberts was 4-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs, and four other Central Kitsap batters had at least two hits. The Cougars had 15 total against an Auburn Mountainview team coming off its own state tournament appearance.
This after Central Kitsap beat Peninsula, 12-2, in six innings earlier in the day to reach the winner-to-state matchup.
“We swung it really well today,” Baxter said.
“We play solid defense, our pitchers throw strikes and we get timely hitting. We don’t have a guy throwing 95 miles per hour. We don’t have guys hitting 15 home runs. But we’re consistent. We’re just consistent and we play well together and we have fun.”
Auburn Mountainview scored the first two runs of the game before Central Kitsap pounced for five runs in the bottom of the first inning.
It was 6-5 when the Cougars scored four more in the bottom of the sixth inning, setting up an undramatic finish after starter Matthew Vessey gave way to Aki Buckson, who closed out the victory.
Griffin McCormick, a Bellevue College signee, earned the win for Central Kitsap in the opener.
Auburn Mountainview (12-9) can still clinch a repeat trip to state.
It rallied late to beat North Thurston, 4-3, in its first game Saturday, but with the loss to Central Kitsap the Lions next play Prairie — which ended Capital’s season with a 4-3 nine-inning victory — at 4 p.m. Wednesday in a loser-out game at Auburn High School.
Enumclaw 6, Kennedy Catholic 5: The Hornets scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to erase a three-run deficit, then held on despite allowing two runs in the bottom of the seventh to clinch a trip to the 3A state tournament.
This is the same Enumclaw (13-9) team that finished fourth in the 3A SPSL standings. Yet the Hornets are guaranteed a spot in state for the first time since back-to-back trips in 2010 and 2011.
Enumclaw next plays Kelso, which beat 3A SPSL regular-season champions Bonney Lake, in the bidistrict semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at Auburn Riverside High School.
Columbia River 9, Sumner 4: Ben Wilson’s double gave the Spartans a lead and broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning at Kelso High School.
But then the floodgates opened with the Chieftains answering with five runs in the bottom half of the inning to send Sumner to the consolation bracket of the 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament.
Columbia River clinched a state tournament berth with the victory.
Sumner (15-6) will next play an elimination game against Wilson at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Auburn High School. The Hornets need to win that game and the following contest to clinch a spot in the 3A state tournament.
Wilson 2, Auburn 1: In a tight consolation game between the Rams and the Trojans, the former eeked out a late run in the sixth to capture the win.
Brenden Jones was responsible for the run, with a double smashed into left field on an 0-2 count.
Wilson (13-9, 10-4 3A Narrows) ended up in the losing side of the bracket after being shut out by Kelso 5-0. Auburn (8-14, 6-9 3A SPSL) found its way there after being doubled up by Bonney Lake 8-4.
Fife 6, Olympic 5: Shane Nixon called the old walk-off bunt play.
Jalen Cope’s bunt down the first baseline scored Davis Bottemiller from third base with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning to clinch the Trojans their fifth consecutive trip to the 2A state tournament.
Olympic could have been out of the inning on a double play, but its shortstop didn’t touch second base and his bad footwork caused him to be late on a throw to first base with one out.
That loaded the bases for Cope.
Fife (19-2) advances to play Liberty of Issaquah in the 2A West Central/SeaKing bidistrict semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Silverdale.
River Ridge 10, Orting 7: The Hawks broke open a 2-2 game with eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to beat the Cardinals at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds and clinch a trip to the 2A state tournament — the program’s fifth trip in school history and first since 2010.
River Ridge (11-11) beat Lindbergh, 6-1, earlier in the day as the Hawks
advance to the 2A West Central/SeaKing bidistrict semifinals at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.
Highline 10, White River 2: The Hornets saw their season come to a conclusion a after a sound defeat at the hands of the Pirates.
Highline (15-7, 10-4 2A Seamount) took an early lead the was able to coast from there. They scored six runs in the second, and tacked on four more later in the ballgame for some insurance.
White River (12-10, 9-4 2A SPSL) lost its first game of the day to Sequim 11-2 to end up in the consolation bracket.
Cascade Christian 2, Chimacum 0: Tyler Fox threw a one-hitter to lift the Cougars to an elimination-game victory and the the 1A West Central District semifinals to play Coupeville at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Curtis High School.
Fox struck out 11 and walked none. The only hit he allowed was a double to lead off the top of the fifth inning, though the batter was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple.
Chad Adams drove in Cascade Christian’s lone two runs with a two-RBI single in the bottom of the third.
Staff writer Jeffrey Giuliani contributed to this report
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677