All-Stars heat up summer with wins -- Little League

The Bainbridge nine take the District title, open with a win at the State tourney.

The Bainbridge Little League 11-year-old All-Star “Nationals” are moving on.

After defeating Gig Harbor National 10-0 last Monday to win the District 2 championship, they beat Sammamish 7-4 in extra innings Sunday in the opening game of the state tournament.

The game was a pitcher’s duel from the get-go, with Nationals pitcher Steven Wellbrock and the Sammamish hurler trading goose eggs for the entire game.

Bainbridge rallied with the score tied 1-1 going into the seventh. Number nine hitter Mitchell Coryell hit a two-out double off the wall in right field.

Ryan Sheehan then singled to score Coryell and the dam was broken, as Bainbridge Island scored five more runs on three more hits, a walk and two hit batsmen. Nine consecutive batters reached base safely in the inning.

Wellbrock threw five innings for the win as he struck out five, walked four and gave up just one run on two hits. Andrew Hunt went the rest of the way, giving up three runs on five hits.

“Our pitching depth is so deep we don’t need to push a kid’s arm,” coach Bill Ackerley said.

The All-Stars didn’t waste time in the District 2 championship game, dominating the Gig Harbor squad. After two innings with no score, Eric Raustein singled in a run and Bainbridge added three more in the inning.

The Nationals added two more on a fifth-inning single by Robby Ackerley, and four in the sixth to wrap it up.

For the tournament, they outscored their opponents 31-1 and never fell behind. Raustein, who went 4 for 5 on Sunday, had seven hits for the tournament.

Ackerley credited his team’s success to their preparation at practice.

“We spend our practices working on our defense while hitting,” he said. “We’ll have kids hitting in the cage, with kids working on defensive assignments and our pitchers in the bullpen. We have various stations to keep them busy and working hard, and they’ve responded very well.”

He also credits the depth of the team, and said all 12 players contribute.

“Everybody has come through – it’s been the hallmark of the team,” he said. “If I were to pull names out of a hat to set a lineup, it would do well. These kids are that strong. Opposing teams are looking for a weak spot in the lineup to get a rest, and there is none. It’s demoralizing to them when they face us.”

The All-Stars played yesterday in Centralia against Richmond Beach, with a berth in the Friday final at stake. A loss would put Bainbridge in a loser-out game at 5 p.m. Thursday.

“The competition is going to get tougher, but we’ll see what happens,” Ackerley said. “But there have been more non-family members at our game than family members, which is really impressive.

“The kids enjoy it. It shows them they’re playing for something more.”

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