BASEBALL: Kentlake's season comes to end with loss to Jefferson

Kentlake's Doug Christie overpowered Curtis on Friday as he struck out 10 in a 4-2 victory in the South Puget Sound League tournament. Kentlake, however, was unable to keep the momentum going, falling to Jefferson 3-2 in a loser-out contest.
— image credit: Dennis Box/Covington Reporter

The pitching was there for the Kentlake High baseball team this past weekend.

A lack of timely hitting, however, bit the Falcons once again.

Right-handed ace Doug Christie served up a gem on Friday night, dominating Curtis 4-2 in the opening round of the South Puget Sound League tournament, but the Falcons weren't able to continue the momentum as they were eliminated by Jefferson on Saturday, 3-2.

The top seven teams from the 10-team SPSL tournament move on to this weekend's district tournament, which will be held at three separate locations: Heidelberg Park (Tacoma), Heritage Park (Puyallup) and Kent Memorial Park (Kent).

Since the Falcons came into the SPSL tournament as the No. 5 seed from the North, they needed to win a pair of games to advance. Christie, who will pitch at the University of Washington next year, saw to it that the Falcons got off to a strong start. The hard-throwing senior overpowered Curtis on Friday, allowing just four hits and striking out 10 in a complete-game effort.

It was a nice way to finish a strong prep career, Christie admitted.

"It feels kind of weird, but it's good to go out on a good game like that," Christie said. "I had good life on my fastball, was hitting my spots and was able to throw my curveball when I needed to and keep (Curtis) off balance."

The loss the following day, however, was disheartening.

"We all had high hopes at the beginning of the season that we would go far," Christie said. "It just didn't work out."

Kentlake won eight of its first nine games to open the season and spent a handful of weeks ranked among the state's top 10. The Falcons, however, posted a 5-7 mark through their final 12 games.

Three of those seven losses came against Jefferson, including Saturday's defeat. All three of the losses also came by just one run.

Kentlake sophomore pitcher Ryne Shelton served up a gem on the mound, scattering six hits and striking out six in a complete game. Jefferson's Mitch McQueen, however, was just a bit stronger than Shelton, taking a no-hitter into the fifth and allowing just three hits overall.

"We got people on base, it was just that when we needed timely hits, we couldn't get them," Christie said.

That has been the story of Kentlake's season, coach Jason Evans said.

"We didn’t get some breaks, some timely hitting all season," Evans said. "I think we left an average of 8-10 runners on base per game."

Despite falling short of their goals and the fact that Kentlake graduates aces Christie and Zach Wright, the future remains bright. Kentlake was one of the youngest teams in the North this season and should return several key pieces next spring.

"We were a very young team. We had five starting sophomores," Evans noted. "But with five starting sophomores who are going to be back the next two years, the future is bright."

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