Rainier withstands West Seattle rally

By Gerardo Bolong

Championships are often hard to come by.

The jousting between teams in recent All-Star action are prime examples of this tenet.

Rainier survived a final flurry from persistent West Seattle to claim a 10-9 championship game victory against West Seattle in the 2013 District 7 Little League baseball 10-11 age All-Star tournament completed at the PacWest Fields on Friday, July 12.

Rainier qualified for a July 21 game at the state tournament hosted by Gig Harbor Little League and conducted at the Gig Harbor Little League fields which have been recently renovated.

"The kids really came together and played as a team tonight," said Rainier manager Ron Queen. "They battled hard and fought hard. They are all great friends."

Leading 10-6 going into the bottom of the sixth and last regulation inning, Rainier was pushed to the limit by the battling West Seattle unit.

Ten-year old Max Debiec's leadoff single and a walk to Will Holmes followed by a wild pitch brought up Isaac Patchen, who popped a two-run single into left field. The tautness of the game increased even more one out later when an infield error placed runners on first and third. It was Don Taylor who then drove a ball to center field where it was caught, but the runner on third crossed the plate after tagging up for run No. 9 for the Westsiders. The next batter grounded the ball to shortstop Aaron Barber who squeezed the ball into his mitt before throwing a strike to first baseman Kai Jeffreys, sending Rainier to Gig Harbor.

"I was pretty ready and waiting for it," Barber recalled. "We have good players and a really good team that fought hard."

Both teams launched their best efforts into this finale.

West Seattle struck first on a first inning RBI ground out by Debiec only to have Rainier retaliate in the top of the second inning. Sproule's two-run hit and an RBI single from Barber sent Rainier into a 3-1 lead.

West Seattle matched this outburst with a three-spot in the bottom of the third to regain the lead at 4-3.

Konrad Gerhart drew a base on balls ahead of a Patchen single to right field. After both runners had moved up a base, an infield error resulted in two runs scored. One fielder's choice out later and an ensuing wild pitch had a WS runner on second base. Nate Ardales roped an RBI single into the outfield for the third West Seattle run of the inning.

Into the fourth inning, the teams continued their struggle for survival as Rainier assaulted its opponent for six huge runs in the visitor's at bat.

Ten at bats and six hits fired up the ground attack. Jeffrey's walk and a Smulling single set up the opening for the power hitters. Barber drove home two runs on a one-out single and Kelly Corl followed with a single that created the situation of runners on first and third. Lewis Welsh plated a run with a base hit before Dillon Cooper launched a two RBI single that gave Rainier a 7-4 advantage in this hotly contested fray. Reed McFeely's infield ground out then delivered home another Rainier run before Jamahl Smith closed out the RD scoring on a single as the team ballooned its lead to 9-4.

Chipping away at its deficit, West Seattle scored a fourth inning run on Patchen's sacrifice fly out and added another run in the fifth on a single by Justin Murphy as the foreshadowing to a fateful final fling at victory for the Westsiders.

The two championship game hurlers for Rainier each pitched in their observations.
"After the (Thursday) loss, we still felt pretty confident," said starting pitcher Cooper. "It was a team win."
Relief pitcher Welsh also had good feelings after he pitched the final three and two-thirds innings.
"We had great sportsmanship were cooperating as a team."
With only the 10-9 losses to Rainier, West Seattle manager Rick Southall was proud of his All-Stars.
"The song remains the same," he said. "After our first loss to Rainier, we came back with two convincing wins. The boys came out and never quit. It's a life experience and we can hold our heads high. We came up just short."

Players for District 7 champion Rainier are Marco Smulling, Samuel Sproule, Aaron Barber, Kelly Corl, Lewis Welsh, Dillon Cooper, Devin Sessons, Jamahl Smith, Kai Jeffreys, Ren Schneider, Cy Schneider and Reed McFeely. The league president is Stu McFeely.

Assisting manager Queen are coaches Kevin Barber and Robert Smulling.

Players representing West Seattle are Justin Murphy, Paul Johnson, Max Debiec, Will Holmes, Isaac Patchen, Eli Markham, Konrad Gerhart, Don Taylor, Nate Ardales, Ben Trigg, Nick Cooper and Owen Ruff.
Assisting manager Southall are coaches Stan Debiec and Sean Yoo. League President is Brian Pare.

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