West Seattle wins age 9-10 championship
South Highline American came into the age 9-10 Little League All Stars District 7 championship baseball game ready to go. But West Seattle was ready, too, and in tune with each other.
The coaching being 'in tune' perhaps signaled more than anything else why WS beat the Des Moines charter, 6-5, at Bar S Fields Saturday, July 2.
"It's the second year Bob (Hellenger) and I have coached the 9-10s together," said Darron Forsell, manager of West Seattle's all stars. "Without even looking at each other (base coaching and moving around players, and subbing, etc.) we both knew what each other was doing out there. Our continuity is unbelievable and that message sent to the kids is unbelievable."
Maybe that's why West Seattle can now believe it is a power in the 9-10s division, having now won the right to go to state against other districts top teams for that age group of all stars for the second year straight. This year's tourney will be in Centralia starting July 23.
Hopefully the road there will be better than one win and two losses last time around.
"We lost our second game to Richland and we fell behind by a few runs and battled back to tie it, only to lose in the bottom of the sixth," said Forsell.
It has not been an easy road either for West Seattle in this district tournament, starting with the first game.
West Seattle started off the tournament by beating Pac West, 4-3, in extra innings, going eight frames before claiming victory. Michael Bramhall was the pitcher of record and also scored the winning run. Then WS handled South Highline National, 9-2, with Sam Hellinger throwing a two-hitter, before this game against South Highline American.
Former West Seattle president Helga Atwood, now in the front office, said , "It's fun to see South Highline American in the final. It's always been Pac West and South Highline National. And last year it was us, which was the first time we've made it to state in eons."
This team was back but not returning to the final with what they had last year.
"We only had two returning players from the 9-10 team that went to state last year," said Forsell. "West Seattle got good pitching against SHA from Galen Camp who had pitched a few days earlier in the marathon inning game win over PW. But Camp was ready for the task at hand against SHA, who beat rival South Highline National to get to this finals match up versus coming power, West Seattle.
"I asked him today to step up, to go to another level," said Forsell. "He said, 'Coach, I'll do whatever you need. Kevin Tyler does a great job with pitching, the kids know what to expect of him. Galen did incredible."
Camp pitched credibly, as his teammates staked him to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of one, and Camp actually helped plant the early offense. He began with a RBI single along with Thomas Snow. Then SHA battled back in the top of the second, on the offense of Isaac Gettis singling. Allen May did the RBI honors to make it 2-1 before Anthony Summers drew a walk and Austin Baucom hit him in to tie things up, 2-2. SHA would have scored another run on the Baucom hit but the runner tried to score from third base after one scored and a good throw from the outfield nabbed him.
"All these players stepped up," said Forsell.
West Seattle was battle-stanced for the coming challenge from SHA defensively, and offensively. And the offense proved it could match it's defense by scoring four runs on two hits in the bottom of the second.
WS's Jackson Lovely led things off, singling up the middle, a walk to Bryce Morgan, and subsequent steals of second and third base, became only exciting fan watching as Michael Bramhall drew a a walk to load the bases. Then came Sam Hellinger with an RBI single to make it 3-2 and then Snow hit the ball to second base and an error there made it 4-2. Next was Camp with an sacrifice grounder that scored another and it was 5-2. Still an at-bat later came Eric Dunn getting things done for the inning with an RBI single.
"West Seattle is a good team," said coach Tim May. "We were beat by a very good team."
West Seattle was ahead by four runs but back stormed SHA as Gettis singled to start off the top of the third . Then an error by the shortstop allowed both runners on. Kristian Breed then swung the bat and tipped the ball off the end of it and made it to first as the ball rolled halfway down the first base line and stopped. Then Joshua Perkinson came next and pounded a 2 RBI double to the left-center gap. And West Seattle's lead was trimmed to 6-4.
In the top of the fourth, SHA added another as Austin Baucom reached base with a single and Gettis cleaned him off the basepaths with a RBI single to make it 6-5.
Then there was one last chance for SHA in the sixth, down by one run. Gettis was just about up again for SHA with one runner on base, but Camp sealed the deal with a game-ending ground out to himself.
All he did was smile when told that SHA's start was coming to the plate if he hadn't got that last out .
"We are really outgoing and tough," said Camp. "We are really excited to be going to state."
Manager Bob Hellinger talked to everyone after the game as the players were posed for pictures holding their banner in the outfield as parents and the players listened.
"Kevin has done an outstanding job, the way he has handled the pitchers has been outstanding and Darron and I have been in sync out there," he said.
Players for West Seattle are Michael Bramhall, Galen Camp, Eric Dunn, Jacob Eddy, Sam Hellinger, Curtis Kasahara, Rex Lakey, Jack Lovely, Bryce Morgan, Sage Opheim, Thomas Snow, Nathan Sobotta, Coal Winters and coaches Bob Hellinger and Kevin Tyler and manager Darron Forsell.