Hardballers optimistic

Senior pitcher Gary French is one part of a pitching staff that hopes to get Bainbridge back to the playoffs and another run at state.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Senior pitcher Gary French is one part of a pitching staff that hopes to get Bainbridge back to the playoffs and another run at state.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

Several Spartans return from last season for a playoff run.

Unlike last season, Bainbridge head baseball coach Jayson Gore knows this year’s team won’t take anyone by surprise.

What won’t help is playing five games in five days as they did last week, a first for Gore in his time at BHS.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that,” he said.

Last season, the Spartans enjoyed a positive experience, losing only two games in their pursuit of a Metro League Mountain Division title.

Though a three-game losing streak ended their division hopes, Bainbridge won two loser-out games to earn a winner-to-state game against eventual state champion Issaquah, losing in eight innings.

The Spartans have some talent returning this season, but injuries and losses to graduation (including longtime varsity members in Robbie Stevenson, Michael Heald, Adam Beck and Tal Glass) have put them at a disadvantage.

Most notable were the losses of senior outfielder/pitcher Ian Powell to a freak injury (“He was just wrestling around with one of his buddies and ended up breaking his wrist,” Gore said) and junior pitcher/outfielder Colin Feldtman, who is working his way back from a stress fracture in his lower back.

“He’s (Feldtman) our number one pitcher, so we’re kind of makeshift right now,” Gore said. “Hopefully we can get him back here in the beginning of April.”

Senior pitchers Gary French and Willie Green return, along with senior co-captains catcher Taurean Yamada, outfielder Colin Bowman, and second baseman Kauika Peleti. Other returnees include senior designated hitter Chad Kakela, junior shortstop Tanner Bogardus, junior outfielder/pitcher Colby Morse and junior third baseman Will Martin.

Gore said he’ll use a rotation of French, Green and Morse, and return the same infield as last season, with a newcomer in sophomore infielder/pitcher Mario McLaughlin taking over for Stevenson. Morse will fill in for Heald in the outfield, with Bowman moving to center field.

Among the newcomers, junior pitcher Ross Olason and sophomore first baseman/catcher Kevin McCormack will fill spots as needed.

“He’s doing a great job so far,” Gore said of Olason, who held the high-powered Central Kitsap offense down in a 6-1 loss and threw a one-hitter against Cleveland. “We’re bringing him along.”

After opening the season with the loss to CK last Monday, Bainbridge rebounded over the next four days to defeat Chief Sealth 14-0, West Seattle 14-11 and Cleveland 14-0.

Their game against Bishop Blanchet on Thursday was rained out after it got under way, which Gore was thankful for.

“The graces of God blessed us with inclement weather,” he said. “We weren’t ready to play and we were going to get killed.

“Wednesday’s game (against West Seattle) was just crazy and full of emotion,” Gore continued. “We just didn’t have it (against Blanchet).”

They’ll need to be on their game for a vastly improved Metro with state title favorite Seattle Prep, along with contenders O’Dea, Eastside Catholic and Blanchet.

“The league’s going to be really tough this year,” Gore said. “There’s a lot of strength in our division. It’s going to be an uphill battle to make the playoffs this year. It really is.

“But I am very optimistic about the season,” he continued. “The team knows what we’re up against.”

“The kids know that we really have to do the little things in every ball game so we can win the close games this year.”

The Spartans played Rainier Beach yesterday, traveled to Lakeside today and are at home against Bremerton Thursday in their last game before spring break.

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