BOULDER -- Blake Kitayama is a work in progress. Fairview coach Rick Harig knows it and the Knights left-hander knows it.
But the senior-to-be provided a snapshot of his untapped potential Friday morning.
Kitayama pitched Fairview to a 5-1 win over Slammers--Mouton at Knights Field, a victory that propelled the Knights into the quarterfinals of the Boulder National Invitational Tournament. The Knights put the finishing touches on a 4-0 run through pool play and will host Cherokee Trail Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m.
Kitayama's three-hitter allowed Fairview to reach the quarters with style.
"Everything he throws moves, so we just try to go down the middle because it's going to move to one side or the other," Harig said. "He's definitely growing up. And being left-handed with movement on every pitch, you're going to be hard to hit."
It was the first win of the summer for Kitayama (1-1), who played JV ball in the spring. Employing a variety of off-speed pitches to compliment his fastball, he kept Slammers hitters anxious and off balance.
To nit pick, his control was wayward at times (six walks), but overall it was an exemplary performance for a Knights squad that has yielded only five runs in the first four games of the tourney.
"I have a great defense behind me, so I'm just trying to throw strikes and get some weak groundballs," he said. "My fastball was moving pretty well and my curveball was dropping a lot."
Kitayama got immediate run support as the Knights erupted for three in the bottom of the first. Cameron Frazier led off with a triple and scored on an RBI groundout by Walker Harris. Jeremy Katz added a sacrifice fly and Cannon Casey a run-scoring single to cap the inning.
RBI singles by Jake Thoning and Katz allowed the Knights to stretch the lead to 5-1 in the fifth. Thoning's hit followed a rare standup triple by first baseman Jeff Clarke, who went 3 for 3.
"I caught that one well and it just kept travelling," Clarke said.
The Knights neither struck out nor drew a walk against Slammers starter Chase Dean, as hitters were aggressive and deft at putting the ball in play. They compiled 11 hits overall against the right-hander.
"We definitely came in knowing we had to bring our best for every game, because every little thing matters for seeding and everything," Clarke said. "We're all seeing the ball well, in full baseball mode and just going up there ready to hit."
Harig lauded his pitching staff, which has produced complete games in all four outings. Mike Vlasity and Ryan Kokora threw them Wednesday and Katz on Thursday.
The Knights' run is even more remarkable considering starters Steve D'Epagnier (first base/designated hitter) and Johnny Feauto (infield/pitcher) are in Cleveland this week as the Knights football team competes in a national 7-on-7 football tournament.
Kitayama, who hopes to crack the starting rotation next spring, was asked if his performance equated to the most enjoyable game of the summer on a personal level.
"It was a little bit of a slow game because we weren't hitting as well as we usually do," he said. "But it was fun coming out and dealing on the mound."
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Fairview 5, Slammers--Mouton 1
At Fairview H.S.
Slammers-Mouton 010 000 0 -- 1 3 1
Fairview 300 020 X -- 5 11 1
W -- Kitayama. L -- Dean.
Slammers--Mouton hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) -- Kasch 4-0-0-0, Light 2-0-0-0, Dean 2-0-1-0, Hultzapple 4-0-0-0, Richy 2-0-0-0, Richardson 3-1-1-0, C. Reardon 2-0-0-0, Turner 2-0-1-0, P. Reardon 2-0-0-0. Totals 24-1-3-0. 2B -- Richardson. SB -- Richardson.
Fairview hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) -- Frazier 4-1-1-0, Harris 3-0-1-1, Clarke 3-2-3-0, Thoning 3-2-2-1, Katz 2-0-1-2, Casey 3-0-1-1, Kearney 3-0-1-0, Kitayama 3-0-1-0, Munson 3-0-0-0. Totals 27-5-11-5. 2B -- Thoning. 3B -- Frazier, Clarke.
Slammers -- Mouton pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) -- Dean 6-11-5-5-0-0.
Fairview pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) -- Kitayama 7-3-1-1-6-7.