Sports

Bainbridge baseball All-Stars slug their way to title

(Clockwise from top) Jake Hawken dives to first to try and get South Kitsap Southern’s Zach Ringer during Wednesday’s 12-1 win in the Little League District 2 tournament, Ben Kussie needed just 41 pitches through 3 1/2 innings to shut down South Kitsap; he gave up four hits and no walks while striking out four, Brett Green singled twice and scored twice in the first inning as Bainbridge sent 14 batters to the plate.  - Jesse Beals/Staff Photos
(Clockwise from top) Jake Hawken dives to first to try and get South Kitsap Southern’s Zach Ringer during Wednesday’s 12-1 win in the Little League District 2 tournament, Ben Kussie needed just 41 pitches through 3 1/2 innings to shut down South Kitsap; he gave up four hits and no walks while striking out four, Brett Green singled twice and scored twice in the first inning as Bainbridge sent 14 batters to the plate.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/Staff Photos

PORT ORCHARD – Everything was going right for Bainbridge Majors All-Star manager Greg Wellbrock and his team Thursday.

Even his family benefited when his daughter Victoria took home $180 from the fundraiser raffle pot.

“That was a good sign,” he said.

The Bainbridge Majors All-Stars did their part to make things go their way by scoring 36 runs in three days as they defeated South Kitsap Southern 12-4 in the Little League District 2 championship game in Port Orchard.

To get there, Bainbridge blew out South Kitsap 12-1 in 3 1/2 innings Wednesday and blanked Gig Harbor American 12-0 Tuesday as they came through the consolation bracket.

Bainbridge now heads to the state tournament July 18-27 in Mill Creek.

They’ll play the champion from District 7 at 4:30 p.m. July 18.

“I’m really proud of these guys,” Wellbrock said. “They keep battling. They did a really good job against a very, very good pitcher.”

With the teams respective aces on the mound – Pierre LeDorze for Bainbridge and Bryce Broome for South Kitsap – it was a tight game for the first few innings.

Bainbridge scored first in the first inning when Brett Green and Ben Kussie reached base on a single and a hit batsman.

Broome struck out LeDorze, but Tino Peleti singled to score Green.

South Kitsap got the run back when they loaded the bases on a walk, a hit batsman and an error.

Broome drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to center field.

Bainbridge retook the lead in the third inning when Peleti sent a laser beam over the fence in left- center field for a homer.

But South Kitsap re-tied the game in the fourth when Tyler Pinkerton sent a towering fly ball over the left field fence.

South had their chances to take the lead when they put runners on second and third, but LeDorze got out of the jam with a strikeout and a groundout.

“They have some really good hitters,” LeDorze said. “But I started throwing strikes and it ended up in our favor.”

In its half of the fourth, Bainbridge finally got the big inning it needed to break the game open.

Harrison King started it with a walk, then Campbell Queen doubled to put pinch runner Spencer Hogger at third.

Broome struck out Drew Dierckx, but Jack Post put down the suicide squeeze that got past Broome to score Hogger and retake the lead. Green followed with a double to score two more.

Broome came back to strike out Kussie, but LeDorze sent the first pitch he saw over both fences in right field and off the corner of a car for a two-run homer.

Peleti followed him with another rocket to right field that sent fans scattering as it crashed against the chain-link fence.

Wellbrock said he was happy they don’t have to rely on one or two players to drive in runs.

“That’s the special part,” he said. “It hasn’t been one or two guys. It’s great knowing that any one guy can break it open.”

South put one run across in the fifth off a passed ball, but Bainbridge countered with four more runs in its half of the inning.

Ben Freedman got on board with a fielder’s choice, then Hogger doubled to put runners on second and third.

Green followed with a double to score both runners, then Kussie smoked a ball over the fence in left center field for a two-run shot.

LeDorze said they felt they had the advantage because they faced Broome last Sunday when South Kitsap beat them 4-2.

“We knew that he had a ‘slurve’ (slider-curve) pitch so we knew when to wait on it and see where it goes,” he said. “He used that slurve a lot.”

Wellbrock felt they had another advantage since South Kitsap hadn’t seen LeDorze pitch.

“He started out kind of rocky and I attributed that to the big game,” he said. “But he dialed it down and dialed it in as the game went on. I was very proud with how he made adjustments.”

LeDorze gave up the aforementioned three runs on three hits. He hit two batters, walked two and struck out six on 85 pitches.

Peleti came on in relief in the sixth. He gave up a solo home run and two hits, but got the job done to send Bainbridge to state.

Against South on Wednesday, Kussie got the start and was dominant, needing just 41 pitches to shut them down.

He allowed no walks and four hits while striking out four.

“He’s a competitor,” Wellbrock said. “He’s a gamer. He’s got two pitches and he throws them both for strikes.”

South Kitsap got on the board first when Tanner Paulson reached on a fielder’s choice.

Michael Wood blooped a single to center field, but LeDorze’s throw to third went off Peleti and out of play, scoring Paulson.

But Bainbridge got the run back and then some in its half of the inning, going through three South Kitsap pitchers to score 11 runs.

After Green got on board with an infield single, Kussie crushed a ball over the booth in center field for a 2-1 lead.

LeDorze grounded out, but Peleti and Liam Greiwe reached on a base hit and a walk.

Jake Hawken followed with a base hit to load them up for Queen, who promptly singled to score Peleti.

Freedman followed with a base hit to score Griewe, then another run came across when Hogger was hit by a pitch.

Green singled his second time up in the inning to drive in a run, then two more came home on an error, as the South Kitsap shortstop threw home on a groundball by Kussie, but overthrew the catcher.

LeDorze singled to drive in two more and took second on the throw home. He took third on a wild pitch, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Peleti to round out the scoring.

Bainbridge added another run in the second when Queen reached on a fielder’s choice.

Then Dierickx – “I don’t think he weighs 75 pounds dripping wet,” said Wellbrock with a laugh – missed out on a home run by inches when he drove a ball to the fence. He settled for a double to score Queen.

“He’s a scrapper,” Wellbrock said. “That’s one tough little guy. He takes every opportunity he gets and gives 110 percent.”

Meanwhile, Kussie used his off-speed pitch to near perfection to keep South Kitsap off balance.

Though the road gets harder at state, Wellbrock is confident they can do well.

“This is one special group of boys,” he said. “They can hit. We work hard at that, so I believe we can hit with anybody.”

Several other All-Star teams are still going at press time.

The Majors softball All-Stars start their state tournament today in Walla Walla at 10 a.m.

The 10-11 Gold All-Stars eliminated Bainbridge Blue 7-1 Thursday night in a loser-out game. Bainbridge Gold played Gig Harbor American yesterday.

The 9-10 Blue All-Stars also defeated its counterparts in Bainbridge Gold 11-1 Wednesday.

Bainbridge Blue plays Saturday at 7 p.m. against Gig Harbor American while Bainbridge Gold played Gig Harbor National yesterday.

The 9-10 softball All-Stars play against Sequim at noon Saturday in a loser out game at Snider Park in Poulsbo.

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