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9-10 All-Stars marching on
"The old saying that the team making the fewest mistakes wins is never more true than in youth baseball. That being so, it should follow that a team making no mistakes will win big.And so it was Thursday night, as the Bainbridge 9-10-year-old baseball all-star team turned in another near-flawless performance Thursday to claim a 9-1 win over the North Kitsap Nationals in district tournament play at Olalla.Pitching is what held us together, said Bainbridge coach Rick Watson. We made no mistakes, made great plays in the field and came through in the clutch.The island team's third straight tournament win sends them into a winner's bracket showdown against South Kitsap East, tonight at 7:30 p.m. Pitching and defense got Bainbridge off on the right foot. In the first inning, NK hit the ball sharply, but two sparkling plays by shortstop Mike Leslie turned those shots into outs.Bainbridge starting pitcher Mike Walsh threw three scoreless innings, striking out four while giving up only one hit.The islanders broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third when Tyler Bogardus slid home just ahead of the throw to score on Taurean Yamada's infield grounder. What could have been a big inning for Bainbridge ended, though, when Willy Greene's bases-loaded liner went right to the NK shortstop.Still clinging to a 1-0 lead, Bainbridge broke the game open with eight runs in the top of the fifth.Tyler Campbell opened the inning with a double to center, then came around to score on wild pitches. That opened the floodgates. Four walks, a hit batter and several passed balls led to three more Bainbridge runs.Nick Fling, who had come in to pitch in the fourth, drove home two more runs with a grounder up the middle, then Campbell put the game out of reach with a bases-clearing double, his second extra-base hit of the inning.That's been this team's pattern, Watson said. Each game we've played, we've had a big inning.NK scored its only run in the bottom of the fifth, when Marcus Harris sliced a pitch just inside the first-base bag, putting runners on first and third with two down.But when Harris then trotted to second base for what is usually thought of as the automatic steal, pitcher Fling took the return throw from the catcher, turned and fired to second, where Harris was tagged for the final out of the inning.Fling allowed only one hit and struck out three in his two innings of work. Will Watson, the Bainbridge team's lone 9-year-old, pitched the final inning, striking out the final batter.An easy-to-overlook key to the team's success has been Michael Heald's catching, Watson said. He's made some great plays back there - good throws, and he's caught fouls for big outs in two of our games.In three tournament victories, Bainbridge has yielded only three runs while scoring 32. Best of all, Watson says, is that he has his top pitchers rested and ready to go for the weekend showdowns.Peter Leslie and Willy Greene are our front-line pitchers, Watson said, and Leslie has only pitched one inning in the tournament. They're ready to go. Plus Walsh and Fling have been equally good, and they have a lot of innings left that they can pitch.The winner of tonight's game between the only unbeaten teams in the tournament has an enormous advantage in the double-elimination tournament, in which a team needs to lose twice to be eliminated.If Bainbridge can win tonight's game, then the team moves into Monday's final. And if Bainbridge then lost on Monday, it would play a rematch with Monday's opponent on Tuesday for the district championship and the right to move into the state tournament. So a win tonight means the islanders would need only one win in two games for the championship.A loss tonight would put the shoe on the other foot. Bainbridge would have to win a loser's bracket game tomorrow, then beat the surviving winner's bracket team both on Monday and Tuesday. So the team that loses tonight will need to win three straight games to advance.The Saturday game is definitely the key, Watson said. But with our top pitchers available, we're in good shape."