Sports

Bainbridge Island Little League All-Stars take first two at state

Ben Freedman connects on a pitch during the Little League District 2 championship game versus South Kitsap Western. The BILL Majors All-Stars won its first two games at state. - Jesse Beals/File Photo
Ben Freedman connects on a pitch during the Little League District 2 championship game versus South Kitsap Western. The BILL Majors All-Stars won its first two games at state.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/File Photo

t One blowout and one close contest keep squad in hunt for a title.

The Bainbridge Island Little League Majors All-Stars opened the Washington State Little League Championships at Freedom Field in Mill Creek with a bang last Friday.

The Bainbridge nine defeated the District 7 champions, the West Seattle All-Stars, by a score of 13-2.

Bainbridge, the designated visiting team, jumped to a five run lead in the top of the first inning.

Brett Green lead the game off with a walk. Ben Kussie hit a ground-rule double to move Green to third and Pierre LeDorze walked to lead the bases. Tino Peleti then cleared the bases with a double.

Harrison King followed with a walk. With two outs, Lincoln Beal tripled to score Peleti and King.

Bainbridge put pressure on West Seattle every inning. In the fourth inning Peleti homered with LeDorze aboard to put the game out of reach. Green, Kussie, LeDorze and Peleti all scored three runs. Kussie and Peleti each had three hits.

Bainbridge was just as dominant in the field. Kussie pitched all five innings and looked sharp. He was aided by a watertight defense lead by Beal, LeDorze, Jack Post, Spencer Hogger, King and Jake Hawken.

Their second game of the tournament was Sunday against perennial power District 10, represented by Steel Lake Little League.

LeDorze took the mound and served notice by striking out the first three hitters. LeDorze kept the heat up in the second, striking out two more.

In the bottom half of the second, lead by a raucous Bainbridge fan base, Liam Griewe strode to the batter’s box. After taking strike one, he muscled the next pitch over the left field fence to give his team a 1-0 lead. Bainbridge continued to rally but left two runners in scoring position as the inning ended.

In the top of the third inning, LeDorze ran into some trouble. He issued two walks and hit the next batter to load the bases with no out. He struck out the next two hitters but the next batter hit a bloop double, scoring two and giving Steel Lake a 2-1 lead.

But the boys from the island came right back in the bottom of the third as Kussie and LeDorze hit back-to-back singles. Peleti reached on an error to load the bases for Griewe.

With a one-strike count, Griewe drilled a shot to center field which was dropped and Kussie scored to tie the game. Hawken followed with a single that singed the artificial turf and scored LeDorze to put Bainbridge up 3-2.

LeDorze and his defense quickly and quietly put Steel Lake down in the top of the fourth inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, Bainbridge broke out their bats for another big inning.

Green lead off with a single and moved to third on Kussie’s double. LeDorze followed with another double that scored Green and Kussie. Peleti stepped to the plate and hit the third pitch he saw so far that air traffic control at nearby Paine Field issued an advisory to incoming aircraft. That swat gave Bainbridge a 7-2 lead going to the top of the fifth inning.

Green took over for LeDorze on the hill and pitched a gem of an inning. Manager Greg Wellbrock, looking to give his hurlers some tournament experience, gave the ball to King to close the game in the sixth.

King ran into some trouble as Steel Lake strung together some soft hits and a walk to score a couple of runs but a couple of defensive gems by Hogger and Green turned a game ending double play into another state tournament victory for Bainbridge Island.

Bainbridge played Greater Richland Little League on Tuesday in a quarterfinal game.

If they won, they play the winner of the Mill Creek/Salmon Creek quarterfinal at 7 p.m. with the winner of that game to play for the state championship at 1 p.m. Sunday.

If they lost, they play in a loser-out contest at 7 p.m. Thursday.

For fans who can’t make it to the game, visit www.littleleaguewa.org and find the Major baseball tournament link to view the game online.

–With information supplied by BILL’s Greg Wellbrock

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