Sports

BABE RUTH - Les Schwab goes through the fire to win

'Rag-tag,’ nearly coachless team wins Babe Ruth title on Friday.

The Les Schwab team finished their Bainbridge Island Babe Ruth season with a story that could be substituted with the plot of any sports movie over the last 20 years.

Les Schwab of Poulsbo sponsored a team on the island, but couldn’t find a coach.

So employee Justin Biggs, 26, volunteered for the job – with an assist.

“They were looking for a coach and I told them I would help out,” he said.

But when no one stepped up, his manager asked him after he came back from vacation if he would take the job.

“I got a call and I found out I was it,” Biggs said. “I was the whole shebang.”

His first challenge was “remembering kids’ names and figuring out the position they’re good at,” he said, but at times he had trouble fielding a complete team.

Two players felt it was a sinking ship and left for other teams early in the season.

Biggs only had two experienced pitchers in Jake Sousa (who threw 44 innings over the season) and Chance Roebke.

Their starting catcher, Matt Ricco, had to learn the intricacies of the position, as he had never played at all behind the plate.

At times, there was talk that they would have to fold the Les Schwab team due to lack of interest.

But Biggs kept it together, getting help from some parents, while remembering his own experiences in Babe Ruth growing up on the island.

He guided the team to a 9-5 record in league play.

“I was nervous at first, but after a while, it got easier and easier,” he said. “It was difficult at times (getting players) but it always worked itself out.”

From there, they defeated Stewart Title 5-2 in the first round of the playoffs and crushed Bainbridge Auto 15-6 in the semifinals before taking on Windemere for the league championship.

Les Schwab got a standout pitching performance from Mattias Keese, who was out for most of the season with a broken wrist.

He threw all seven innings for the win, striking out 10 and also driving in the game’s only run.

The Babe Ruth All-Star teams were announced last week as well.

The 14-year-olds will play at Battle Point Park while the 15-year-olds will play in Port Orchard.

The 13-year-olds played their district tournament last week, placing third and just missing out on a spot at state.

The teams are:

13-year-old – Players: Kendal Kaminski, Duncan Newland-Thompson, Skylar Horner, Ryan Sheehan, Andrew Holzer, Colin White, Ben Martin, Sam Boullion, Chris Bell, Rico Failla, Adam Warga, Harrison Kussie, Max Edenholm.

14-year-old – Players: Connor Loudon, Blake Harper, JJ Wilford, David Greenwood, Derek Acuna, Daniel Wyman, Henry McCombs, Kevin Bowman, Bryce Fredey, Elliot Marsing, Will Devereaux, Ben Kallas, Cameron Kaminski, Max Herron, Evan Sanford.

15-year-old – Players: Neil Bjorklund, Ryan Burris, Michael John Cox, Will Drewry, Spencer Eager, Paul Giasson, Mattias Keese, Mitch Main, Sam Martin, Connor Middleton, Cole Rabinowitz, Matt Ricco, Jake Sousa, Rolf Toren.

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