The Bainbridge Island Little League baseball team was still alive in the Washington state tournament as of Wednesday, after compiling a 2-1 record in their first three games.
Bainbridge overcame a heartbreaking one-run loss to Federal Way in its first game then beat West Seattle 11-0 and Liberty Lake (Spokane) 15-0. They have a long road ahead through the losers bracket, which could potentially mean as many as six games in six days beginning Thursday if they manage to win out.
And that’s a journey the team is ready to face head on, team manager Jeff D’Amico said.
“It’s something there’s an appetite for,” he said. “There’s a structure there and willingness to show up and compete. They’re having the time of their lives right now. They’ve been looking forward to practice as much as the games.”
The team had a scheduled practice Wednesday before taking on District 1 champion Lake Stevens in a Thursday 6 p.m. matchup at Hartman Park in Redmond. A win there would set them up for a Friday game against the loser of the game between Northeast Seattle and Richland National.
The Bainbridge All Stars engaged in a classic pitching-and-defense game against Federal Way, but were unfortunately on the wrong end of a 1-0 score. The two teams combined for nine hits, one run and no errors, and pitchers from both teams racked up plenty of strikeouts. Dominic D’Amico fanned five over the first three innings, and Ryan Rohrbacher added three more in his 1 1/3 innings.
Bainbridge had a couple of chances to put runs on the board, but couldn’t get the big hit. Ely Olesen and D’Amico opened the game with back-to-back singles, but were stranded on base. Olesen reached again on his second hit of the game in the fourth, but Federal Way got the final out of the inning to contain the threat.
Although it was a tough loss, it was also a good experience as Bainbridge sailed through the district tournament with little resistance. From this point forward, there won’t be any more road apples – every game is going to come against a tough opponent.
“It was a great baseball game,” D’Amico said. “It was tight the whole way, and both teams had some dominant pitching going. That experience is something that is very fresh in our minds, and I think that will help. You don’t just show up and learn how to win close games.”
But the team bounced back, thumping West Seattle. Olesen recorded a pair of doubles, and Zachery Ausmeier hit a solo home run to power the offense.
D’Amico doubled home Olesen to score the first run, and Caden Willey followed with an RBI single and later scored on a passed ball to give Bainbridge a 3-0 lead in the first.
Ausmeier’s home run led off a seven-run second inning that also featured two-run singles from Rowan Grossman and Blake Watson. Tommy McFadden knocked in Watson to plate the 10th run.
“The kids are playing the same way, whether it’s one-to-nothing or 15-to-nothing,” D’Amico said. “The coachings staff has been really diligent about keeping them level-headed as we go through these games.”
Pitching depth will be the key going forward. The coaches will have to balance winning the game in front of them and preparing for the possibility of playing again the next day. D’Amico said he has eight kids he “won’t hesitate to put on the mound.”
“The way the pitch counts are these days, mapping out the number of pitches each kid can throw, there has to be a conscious plan to get through those six games,” D’Amico said.
Bainbridge 11, West Seattle 0
WS 0 0 0 0 — 0 2 2
BI 3 7 1 x — 11 11 1
Bainbridge — Olesen 2.2 IP, 2 H, 6 K; Sullivan 1.1 IP, BB, 3 K.
Bainbridge — Ausmeier 2-2, HR, RBI, R; Olesen 3-3, 2 2B, SB, 3 R; Willey 1-3, 3 RBI, SB, R; Grossman 1-2, 2 RBI, R, SB; D’Amico 1-2, RBI, BB, 2 R; Watson 1-1, RBI, R; McFadden 1-1, RBI; Kingrey 1-1.