North-South rivalry turns in Vikings' direction

Taxi Driver was in theaters everywhere. Gerald Ford was president. And no one had even heard of Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader.

The year was 1976 — a year also noteworthy because it was the last time that the North Kitsap boys’ baseball team beat the Wolves of South.

North Kitsap completed a two-game sweep against their Kitsap County rivals, having won in Port Orchard early in the season — an 11-0 blowout March 29 — and then winning at home in a highly offensive 14-8 contest Friday.

“They’re legit,” said SK Coach Jim Fairweather of this year’s Viking team.

“And they battle ... they play baseball and they think baseball and they carry themselves like baseball players.”

North Kitsap (11-2 overall, 8-0 league) is cruising atop the Narrows League, off to the team’s best start since it went 22-2 in 1998. The defending state-champion Wolves (6-5, 4-3 league) are one of several closely grouped teams in a very competitive league.

The results beg the question: Have the tables turned a bit?

“Anytime you beat a South Kitsap club, you’ve done something very big,” said NK Coach Steve Frease. “South jumped on us early. You tip your hat to them — (they’re) a very good ball club.”

The goal of beating the Wolves this year was established during a training camp at the beginning of the season, Frease said.

“Dan (Peck) brought it up,” Frease commented. “Peck said to the team, ‘Let’s beat South.’ ”

Friday’s game featured three lead changes, and at times the Wolves appeared to have control — up 3-0 in the second and 7-6 in the fourth. But North refused to stay behind for long, a characteristic that has sparked camaraderie among the squad.

“We have a great group of guys,” said NK’s J.B. Kandoll. “We never get down, never think any lead’s too insurmountable to come back from.”

“They believe in themselves,” Frease said of his team. “This is a good group of kids that know how to come back.”

Fairweather said that he hopes Friday’s loss will fire up his team, now more than halfway through its season.

One positive to note was the Wolves’ ability to hit Peck, who gave up his first earned runs of the entire season.

He would give up seven in getting a no decision.

“If I can go back and tell those guys that, ‘You took a guy with a zero ERA ... and put it on him,’ I’m hoping that they will feel good about that,”

Fairweather said. “And maybe we can use that to springboard on to something else that’s a little more positive ... Lord knows we need it.”

North Kitsap has six games remaining in its regular season, in command of the Narrows and wondering — with eager anticipation — what the postseason holds.

“I’m really proud of these guys,” Frease said. “They have reason to be extremely excited about the way things are going. Now, we’ve got to bump it up another notch.”

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