All-Stars continue march to title games

The 11U boys win a nail-biter over Richmond Beach, stay in contention.

Bainbridge Island 11U All-Star coach Bill Ackerley didn’t want it to end.

“As a spectator, it was a good one to watch,” he said of Tuesday’s state tournament contest against Richmond Beach. “It had been such a good game, it was hard for either team to lose.”

Thanks to some stellar defensive play and smart baserunning, the Bainbridge All-Stars made sure they were on the winning end of the contest, coming back to defeat the District 8 champs 4-3 at Centralia’s Fort Borst Park, to stay in the winner’s bracket in the 2005 Little League 11U state tournament.

Lars Nelson went the entire six innings to get the win as he gave up just eight hits, while receiving some help from his defense to stop Richmond Beach from scoring.

Second baseman Robby Ackerley threw out a runner trying to score from third on a double steal in the first inning.

Center fielder Gabe DiIorio threw out Richmond Beach’s Harry McArce as he tried to stretch a single into a double in the third inning, and third baseman Adam Pool made a gorgeous backhand play on a tough groundball to throw out a runner at first in the fourth inning.

“They made some incredible plays out there,” Ackerley said.

Richmond Beach wouldn’t stay down, as McArce blasted a two-run shot to tie the game in the fifth.

In the sixth, Bainbridge All-Star Ryan Schreck hit a hard single that was misplayed by the right fielder, allowing him to reach third. Several pitches later, he scored on a passed ball to put the All-Stars up for good.

Ultimately, it was a pair of defensive plays that kept Bainbridge in the winner’s bracket.

With runners on second and third and one out, the Richmond batter hit a fly ball to short right field, but Robby Ackerley made an outstanding grab and fired it back home, keeping the runner at third.

The next batter hit a hard grounder back up the middle that appeared to be a base hit, but shortstop Steven Wellbrock covered the distance to block the ball and throw to first to end the game.

Ackerley was proud of his team and their ability to keep their heads in the game.

“We try to get the kids in the mindset that they need to be prepared,” he said. “If they’re prepared, they have nothing to worry about. Still, they’re 11 years old, so they’re bound to have jitters out there. But they still handled themselves very well out there.

“I think the parents feel more pressure than the boys do,” he said.

Bainbridge faced Mill Creek yesterday in the winners’ bracket final. If they won, they will play in the championship game tomorrow at 3 p.m. If they lost, they’ll play tonight in a loser-out game at 6 p.m.

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