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Former Kitsap Sun sports editor Chuck Stark shares insight, laughter, news, views and analysis of Kitsap sports and beyond.
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Archive for the ‘Steve Gray’ Category

Linden re-writing record books at Triple-A Fresno and more links, updates on Kitsap athletes

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Todd Linden said guys might “rag” on him for spending so much time in Triple-A baseball, but he’s OK with it after setting another franchise record with the Fresno Grizzlies of the Pacific Coast League.

The Central Kitsap grad broke the triples record on Wednesday and now holds nine club records — including home runs, most hits and most games played. He’s hitting .282 for Fresno.

“Everything I’ve got is from the game of baseball,” he told the Fresno Bee, “and a lot of my best memories have come from playing in this uniform.”

Here’s the complete story.

Another Central Kitsap grad, Drew Vettleson, had a three-hit game, raising his average to .294 for the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the Tampa Bay Rays’ Class A team in the Midwest League. It’ll be interesting to see if the Rays promote him to the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the higher Class A Florida State League or Double-A Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League. Tampa Bay’s Triple-A team is the Durham (N.C.) Bulls.

Linden was the No. 41 overall pick in the 2002 MLB draft buy the San Francisco Giants, and was resigned by the Giants’ organization in the offseason. Vettleson was the No. 41 overall pick in 2010. The only local player drafted higher? Poulsbo’s Aaron Sele, who went to the Red Sox 23rd in the first round of the 1991 draft.

Aaron Cunningham, meanwhile, has designed for assignment by the Cleveland Indians and is waiting to see if anyone claims him. If the South Kitsap grad passes through waives he’ll be assigned to Triple-A Columbus.

Willie Bloomquist got his average up to .307 earlier this week, but the Diamondbacks infielder is at .299 going into the weekend. The South Kitsap grad is now back in more of utility role with the D’backs since shortstop Stephen Drew returned to the lineup and third baseman Ryan Roberts was traded. Willie’s seeing time at both spots, filling in for Drew and splitting time at third with Cody Ransom, who was just called up from Reno.

North Kitsap grad Jared Prince continues to struggle at Double-A Frisco of the Texas League. The right fielder is 4-for-36 in his last 10 games and is hitting .213 overall.

More Kitsapers

Chad Reed is making a run at signing Ryan Villopoto, the top supercoss rider in the world, to a new contract. Villopoto will be in the final year of his deal with Kawasaki and Reed wants the Poulsbo rider to be part of his Two Two Motorsports team. FYI: Villopoto recently threw out the first pitch at a Los Angeles Angels game.

Congrats to ex-Bainbridge/Chimacum star Steven Gray, who has been invited to the Washington Wizards training camp.

PGA golfer Troy Kelly has the week off, but will be teeing it up in next week’s Reno-Tahoe Open, which uses a Stableford format. Kelly is ranked 167th in the world.

 


Happy holidays, happy New Year, see you in a couple weeks

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Gonna head south — way south — for some sunny weather and relaxation.

I don’t think I’ll find a sports bar in Adelaide, Australia, where I can watch the Alamo Bowl, but you never know.

My gut says the Huskies and Baylor Bears will lock up in a pinball war: points and yards will be coming that fast in what could be the most entertaining shootout in recent memory: The final: Baylor 56, Washington 43.

My gut also says that Prince Fielder won’t be holding any press conferences soon in Seattle. If the price and number of years comes down, maybe the M’s have a shot. If the Seattle can get him for $100 over five or six years, then maybe it’ll happen. But with agent Scott Boras calling the shots, it’s hard to imagine that will happen.

My gut says I should have lost some weight before heading Down Under. But the Aussies on the west coast are experiencing one of the hottest summers on record, so maybe I’ll melt some pounds off in Perth.

Before I head home to put some cookies out for St. Nick, here’s some dates to remember:

Tuesday, Dec. 27: the East-West Alumni basketball games, 6 p.m., Bremerton HS. Great event if you’re a Bremerton alum.

Jan. 14: The Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame banquet, sponsored by the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable, will be held at the Baymont Inn and Suites. Tickets ($30) are available at Team Sports (at its new location in Riddell Square, east Bremerton; Hi-Joy Bowl in Port Orchard and the Baymont).

Jan. 25: The 77th annual Seattle Sports Star of the year awards banquet at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. Bremerton swimmer Nathan Adrian and hydoplane driver Dave Villwock, a Port Orchard native, are nominated in their categories. You can vote online. Go here to vote, buy tickets etc.

I’ll leave you with a list of some of the year’s top local stories. If I missed something, please email sunsports@kitsapsun.com. Look for our year-end story next weekend.

Happy holidays and best wishes to everyone.

TOP STORIES

Ryan Villopoto: RV had one greatest seasons ever for a motocross/supercross rider. After badly breaking his leg in 2010, Villopoto won 6 of 17 in the AMA Supercross season to nail down that championship then rode off with 10 more victories in 24 starts to claim the outdoor Motocross trophy. He helped USA win motocross of champions., You know he’s big stuff when he gets a shoe (Vans) named after him.

Kitsap Pumas: The Pumas won a national championship in third year of operation, and pushed the Sounders to the brink in a U.S. Open Cup playoff game at Starfire. It didn’t come without some turmoil. Executive director Ben Pecora resigns at the end of the season and owner Robin Waite doesn’t bring back coach Peter Fewing. Pumas assistant and OC head coach James Ritchie is named head coach for the coming year. Rumor has it the Pumas are already guaranteed a spot in the U.S. Open Cup because of a change in format, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case.

Nathan Adrian: The Bremerton swimmer —  America’s best hope for a gold medal in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events at the 2012 London Olympics — continued to collect NCAA, national and international titles. The academic All-American from Cal has established himself as one of the elite swimmers in the world. I’ve got a hunch he’s going to be at the top of the list a year from now.

Willie Blooomquist: The Port Orchard native had his best MLB season, starting for Diamondbacks at the game’s most important defensive position — shortstop — in the heat of a pennant race. He batted leadoff, played well in postseason and was rewarded with a 2-year, $3.6 million deal (turned down $4.6M from Giants). A nice feel-good story for a nice, hard-nosed guy who finally proved that he’s a lot more valuable than a lot of people have given him credit for over the years.

Troy Kelly: A year after hip replacement surgery, he nailed down a PGA Tour card after finishing 11th on the Nationwide Tour. He won over $200,000 and now has a second chance to make a name for himself on golf’s biggest stage. He’s hired a personal trainer, dropped 15 pounds and those who know him say he’s mentally and physically in the best spot he’s ever been.

Erynne Lee: PNGA and Washington State Female Golfer of the Year played in the U.S. Women’s Open for a second time, got back to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, won a state high school title, a state women’s amateur title and is now a freshman at No. 1-ranked UCLA. Year ended on a sad note as her mom, Debbie Lee, died in mid-November after suffering a heart attack and stroke while in South Korea.

The U.S. Junior Amateur:  The folks at Gold Mountain did another masterful job of putting on a national golf tournament on the Olympic Course. From the opening dinner on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis, which featured Johnny Miller, to the championship match, won by Dallas’ Jordan Spieth,  it was a magnificent week. It’s possible an NCAA Championship could be in Gold Mountain’s future plans.

The Year of the Wrestler: The top high school story was about Kitsap wrestlers, who won 8 titles and had 13 wrestlers in the finals at Mat Classic. Pretty remarkable stuff for a bunch of the hardest working and toughest athletes around.

Kingston: The next-best high school story revolved around the Kingston Bucs, who went from doormat to a third-place finish in the Class 2A state tournament under the direction of first-year coach Blake Conley.

Kitsap Bears: The Bears, a collection of guys who are passionate about football, rolled out for weekly practices and dominated the local northwest semi-pro scene.  The Bears reached the North American Football League title game. Three months later, owner Don Purser announced that the team will take the 2012 season off.

OC soccer: Men’s team comes out of nowhere and makes a spirited run to the NWAACC finals before coming up short in the title game. You had to be there to really appreciate what this team accomplished.

Drew Vettleson: Central Kitsap star, the 42nd overall pick in the 2010 baseball draft, got his professional career off to a solid start, earning MVP honors for his rookie-league team at Princeton (W.Va). You get the feeling it was just the start of big things for the likeable right-fielder who gained famed at a young age for his ability to pitch with either arm. The Tampa Rays player was rated the sixth-best major league prospect in the Appalachian League. Vettleson hit .282 for the  Rays with seven  home runs, 13 doubles, four triples and 20 stolen bases in 61 games.

Steven Gray: One of West Sound’s all-time best players capped a great four-year basketball career at Gonzaga, enjoying some of his best games against big-time NCAA competition. The All-West Coast Conference guard, a free spirit who grew up in Chimacum and Bainbridge, is playing professionally with a first division club in Latvia.

BlueJackets: Matt Acker, the only coach in BlueJackets’ history and a really good guy and good coach, resigns to spend more time with his family. The college summer team struggles to put fans in the seats, but you’ve got to give the local ownership group props for hanging tough. They said they’re in it for the long haul, and they haven’t waivered, even when it meant digging into their own pockets for more money. Olympic College head coach Ryan Parker, a three-year assistant to Acker, is the new coach and he immediately goes out and signs local products Andy Smith (North Kitsap/Bellevue CC/Liberty University, Va.), Tyler Baumgartner (Central Kitsap/Bellevue CC and he’s signed with Oregon for next year), and Daniel Jewitt (North Kitsap/Truman State, Mo.) to play for the Jackets. That’s a good start toward putting butts in the seats.

BMX King: Port Orchard’s Josh Klatman, a 19-year-old student at Olympic College, ends the year as the No. 1-ranked amateur rider in his age group for the second straight year. BMX is an Olympic sport and if Klatman wanted to pursue a berth, he’d have a chance to make the team. He’s that good.

Dave Villwock: How could I forget the Port Orchard unlimited hydroplane driver, the all-time winningest in the sport’s history? Super Dave, one of the most intelligent athletes I’ve come to know, keeps motoring along, breaking records and proving that he just might be the best to ever pilot one of those flying machines.

 


What’s your top local sports story of the year?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

It’s that time of year to come up with a list of the top local stories of the year.

What’s your top story of the year?

Off the top of my head, I’ve put together a list. It’s in no particular order and I’m probably overlooking something.

Add to it if you’d like. I’ want to know what you think. Help me out. Give me your top five, or even top 10.

 

TOP STORIES

Ryan Villopoto: RV had one greatest seasons ever for a motocross/supercross rider. After badly breaking his leg in 2010, Villopoto won 6 of 17 in the AMA Supercross season to nail down that championship then rode off with 10 more victories in 24 starts to claim the outdoor Motocross trophy. He helped USA win motocross of champions., You know he’s big stuff when he gets a shoe (Vans) named after him.

Kitsap Pumas: The Pumas won a national championship in third year of operation, and pushed the Sounders to the brink in a U.S. Open Cup playoff game at Starfire. It didn’t come without some turmoil. Executive director Ben Pecora resigns at the end of the season and owner Robin Waite doesn’t bring back coach Peter Fewing. Pumas assistant and OC head coach James Ritchie is named head coach for the coming year. Rumor has it the Pumas are already guaranteed a spot in the U.S. Open Cup because of a change in format, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case.

Nathan Adrian: The Bremerton swimmer —  America’s best hope for a gold medal in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events at the 2012 London Olympics — continued to collect NCAA, national and international titles. The academic All-American from Cal has established himself as one of the elite swimmers in the world. I’ve got a hunch he’s going to be at the top of the list a year from now.

Willie Blooomquist: The Port Orchard native had his best MLB season, starting for Diamondbacks at the game’s most important defensive position — shortstop — in the heat of a pennant race. He batted leadoff, played well in postseason and was rewarded with a 2-year, $3.6 million deal (turned down $4.6M from Giants). A nice feel-good story for a nice, hard-nosed guy who finally proved that he’s a lot more valuable than a lot of people have given him credit for over the years.

Troy Kelly: A year after hip replacement surgery, he nailed down a PGA Tour card after finishing 11th on the Nationwide Tour. He won over $200,000 and now has a second chance to make a name for himself on golf’s biggest stage. He’s hired a personal trainer, dropped 15 pounds and those who know him say he’s mentally and physically in the best spot he’s ever been.

Erynne Lee: PNGA and Washington State Female Golfer of the Year played in the U.S. Women’s Open for a second time, got back to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, won a state high school title, a state women’s amateur title and is now a freshman at No. 1-ranked UCLA. Year ended on a sad note as her mom, Debbie Lee, died in mid-November after suffering a heart attack and stroke while in South Korea.

The U.S. Junior Amateur:  The folks at Gold Mountain did another masterful job of putting on a national golf tournament on the Olympic Course. From the opening dinner on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis, which featured Johnny Miller, to the championship match, won by Dallas’ Jordan Spieth,  it was a magnificent week. It’s possible an NCAA Championship could be in Gold Mountain’s future plans.

The Year of the Wrestler: The top high school story was about Kitsap wrestlers, who won 8 titles and had 13 wrestlers in the finals at Mat Classic. Pretty remarkable stuff for a bunch of the hardest working and toughest athletes around.

Kingston: The next-best high school story revolved around the Kingston Bucs, who went from doormat to a third-place finish in the Class 2A state tournament under the direction of first-year coach Blake Conley.

Kitsap Bears: The Bears, a collection of guys who are passionate about football, rolled out for weekly practices and dominated the local northwest semi-pro scene.  The Bears reached the North American Football League title game. Three months later, owner Don Purser announced that the team will take the 2012 season off.

OC soccer: Men’s team comes out of nowhere and makes a spirited run to the NWAACC finals before coming up short in the title game. You had to be there to really appreciate what this team accomplished.

Drew Vettleson: Central Kitsap star, the 42nd overall pick in the 2010 baseball draft, got his professional career off to a solid start, earning MVP honors for his rookie-league team at Princeton (W.Va). You get the feeling it was just the start of big things for the likeable right-fielder who gained famed at a young age for his ability to pitch with either arm. The Tampa Rays player was rated the sixth-best major league prospect in the Appalachian League. Vettleson hit .282 for the  Rays with seven  home runs, 13 doubles, four triples and 20 stolen bases in 61 games.

Steven Gray: One of West Sound’s all-time best players capped a great four-year basketball career at Gonzaga, enjoying some of his best games against big-time NCAA competition. The All-West Coast Conference guard, a free spirit who grew up in Chimacum and Bainbridge, is playing professionally with a first division club in Latvia.

BlueJackets: Matt Acker, the only coach in BlueJackets’ history and a really good guy and good coach, resigns to spend more time with his family. The college summer team struggles to put fans in the seats, but you’ve got to give the local ownership group props for hanging tough. They said they’re in it for the long haul, and they haven’t waivered, even when it meant digging into their own pockets for more money. Olympic College head coach Ryan Parker, a three-year assistant to Acker, is the new coach and he immediately goes out and signs local products Andy Smith (North Kitsap/Bellevue CC/Liberty University, Va.), Tyler Baumgartner (Central Kitsap/Bellevue CC and he’s signed with Oregon for next year), and Daniel Jewitt (North Kitsap/Truman State, Mo.) to play for the Jackets. That’s a good start toward putting butts in the seats.

BMX King: Port Orchard’s Josh Klatman, a 19-year-old student at Olympic College, ends the year as the No. 1-ranked amateur rider in his age group for the second straight year. BMX is an Olympic sport and if Klatman wanted to pursue a berth, he’d have a chance to make the team. He’s that good.

Dave Villwock: How could I forget the Port Orchard unlimited hydroplane driver, the all-time winningest in the sport’s history? Super Dave, one of the most intelligent athletes I’ve come to know, keeps motoring along, breaking records and proving that he just might be the best to ever pilot one of those flying machines.


Steven Gray tribute worth a view

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

If you’re a fan of Bainbridge High grad Steven Gray and the Gonzaga Bulldogs, you’ll want to check out this video. It’s a really cool tribute to Gonzaga’s senior. It’s 13 minutes long, but if you have the time, I heartily recommend it. You get a pretty good idea of how much Gray means to his teammates.

The interviews with his teammates are priceless, especially the ones with Rob Sacre, who is like a brother to Gray. They’re the “ying and yang,” of Gonzaga basketball.

If Gray doesn’t wind up in the NBA or playing professionally somewhere, his teammate say that the laid-back Gray will probably be on an island someplace, wearing no shoes. Or living cheaply in Africa or acting at some club in the Seattle area.

On another note, this is what ESPN’s Dick Vitale had to say about the Zags, who open the NCAA Tournament on Thursday against St. John’s (CBS, around 6:45 p.m.):

“After a slow start, Gonzaga has come back to life, winning the West Coast Tournament. Steven Gray will be tough to stop, and I believe the Zags will score a first-round upset over coach Steve Lavin and St. John’s in Denver … I see Gonzaga being a real surprise, getting all the way to the Elite Eight.”


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