Sports

Marlins spear Majors title

Michael Heald fires the ol’ heater toward the plate. - ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo
Michael Heald fires the ol’ heater toward the plate.
— image credit: ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo

After he gathered his winning team for a photo session for their parents, coach Don French asked his players who was the number one team in the league.

“MARLINS!” was the response.

And who was the number one team in the tournament they had just won?

“MARLINS!”

They were right on both counts.

The Marlins won the Bainbridge Little League tournament championship with an 11-1 victory over the Mariners Tuesday night at Rotary Field.

The Marlins were the regular season champions as well, finishing with a 16-2 league record.

But the Mariners, the second-place team in the league with a 12-6 mark, had beaten them in the final regular season game 13-6 a week earlier.

“The game didn’t mean as much to us,” said French afterwards, “because we were going to the tournament with our best pitching.”

Pitching in

That was on display on Tuesday, as Brendan Gawlowski and Michael Heald combined to shut down the Mariners on three hits.

Heald pitched the final five innings of the six-inning game, striking out 11 batters, including the side in the fourth inning on 10 pitches, and the sixth to end the game.

“He had some good quality pitches,” French said.

Heald also had some good quality at-bats.

The seventh grader from Commodore Middle School went three for four with four runs batted in. His three-run home run highlighted an eight-run second inning for the Marlins, which took command with a 9-0 lead.

Heald followed up with an RBI double in the third inning, and a two-out triple in the fourth.

“It’s probably the best game I’ve ever had at the plate,” Heald said.

The Marlins pounded out 14 hits on Mariner pitching.

Besides Heald, Tyler Campbell and Gary French both went two for four – Campbell with a double and RBI and French with a double and two RBIs.

In the three years since they first started as 10-year-olds, Don French has guided the Marlins to a 36-5 record.

All-Star action

French now turns his attention to coaching the Bainbridge All-Star team, whose members were announced on Wednesday.

The team will have one goal, says French: a return trip to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series.

“It’s our only goal,” French said. “They know what it’s like, and they want to go back.”

Heald is back on the All-Star team this year, along with Peter Leslie, as the only members who went to Williamsport last year.

“They’ll probably look up to me for leadership,” Heald said, “to help the team out and pick them up when they’re down.”

The road to Williamsport begins July 5 at the district tournament at Poulsbo’s Snider Park.

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