It’s been a long year since Little League tournaments were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and although life has begun to return to normal, the young athletes of Kitsap County had to deal with yet another of nature’s curveballs.
Bainbridge Island is hosting the Little League District 2 Majors baseball tournament at Rotary Park, but record-breaking heat forced the schedule-makers to move games around in order to avoid the worst of the triple-digit temperatures.
By Tuesday, Bainbridge’s Little Leaguers were eager to take the field again.
“They’re not taking it for granted, and I think that’s one thing they’ve learned,” said Jeff D’Amico, coach of the Bainbridge team.
Bainbridge has rolled through its first three games, beating South Kitsap Eastern Little League 21-0 and Sequim Little League 20-0. On Tuesday, they took on the North Kitsap National Little League.
Ely Olesen, celebrating his 12th birthday, pitched four perfect innings and struck out 10 hitters. At the plate, he walked twice and smashed an RBI-double off the fence in left-centerfield. He was one of several top performers for Bainbridge in its 10-0 win.
“It was just great to get back to playing,” D’Amico said, “and now we’ve turned up the competition, and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Ryan Rohrbacher pitched the fifth inning to finish off the combined no-hitter as the game ended early due to the 10-run rule. He also smacked an RBI double. Finn Bryson stood out at the plate, collecting three hits and driving in three runs.
After scoring one run in the first inning on a wild pitch, Bainbridge broke through for three more in the second. With one out, Bryson singled, Jax Kingrey walked and Blake Watson picked up a base hit. All three would come around to score, the last on Dominic D’Amico’s sacrifice fly to center.
Bainbridge constantly had traffic on the bases, and North Kitsap had several wild pitches get past the catcher, which allowed Bainbridge to pick up extra bases.
“Putting pressure on the other team is our kind of baseball,” coach D’Amico said. “You see what happens when you put pressure on teams.”
Bryson’ RBI-single put Bainbridge ahead 5-0 in the third, and Rohrbacker’s double extended the lead to 6-0 in the fourth. In the fifth, Bryson knocked in two more runs with his third hit, and Olesen missed a home run by just a few feet but plated the ninth run with the double. Watson, who reached on his second hit of the day, scored on a wild pitch to close out the win.
Bainbridge’s next game is Thursday against the North Kitsap American Little League team. If successful, the regional championship game is set for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Rotary Park.
“We’ve got a couple of pitchers left, and we’ll keep playing like we’re playing,” coach D’Amico said. “We’re going to keep running and trying to score runs, throw strikes and play defense. These guys have worked really hard.”