Rays’ Jarek Johnson, #9, throws to first while Cubs’ Henry Mench, #7, slides into second base during Saturday’s major league finals at Bar S field.
SLIDESHOW: West Seattle Little League's Cubs take Division championship 6-1
By Ed Shepherd
By Ed Shepherd
The West Seattle Little League's Cubs earned the title of Majors Division champions after a five-hit, 13-strikeout pitching performance from Henry Muench.
He led his team to a 6-1 victory at Bar-S Field Saturday.
Now the Cubs go on to the District 7 Tournament of Champions, which starts June 13 at the Normandy Park City Hall fields.
Jason Woodward, the Cubs' manager, said of Muench, "He was what I expected. I am proud of all of my kids. Everyone contributed to our success this season."
The Cubs, who went 9-5 during the season before catching fire in the postseason league tournament for three straight wins in the winners bracket, started the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Jarek Woodward singled to third base, a hard hit grounder, before Muench helped out his pitching with a single through the third-shortstop hole into left field. After the runners advanced on a double steal, Dylan Pool's fly out to center field produced a sacrifice run as Woodward tagged up on third and came home to make it 1-0.
Eli Markham, for the Rays, pitched well in this one, too, but, in the bottom of the third inning a leadoff single by Muench and a walk to Isaac Patchen and a walk to Pool led to a throw around of the baseball on a third to first base put-out gone awry and two runs scored.
The Rays, then, nearly got to the hard-throwing Muench in the top of the fourth. Paul Johnson led off with a single and Ulee Hammer smashed the ball. It just missed going over the center field fence.
"I thought that was going out," said Woodward.
The Rays were threatening to score, runners at second and third base, but Muench bore down and struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
"I knew they had good pitching, too," said Markham, who only allowed three earned runs in this game. The rest came off errors. "We had to speed up our bats."
In the bottom of the fifth the Cubs added three more runs as Woodward reached base on an infield error followed by a Muench double and a bases-clearing double from Patchen to make it 6-0.
And, not giving up after having left two runners stranded at bases in the fourth, the Rays got on the board against Muench in the top of the sixth.
A Markham line-drive single opened his team's final at-bats. Then Johnson doubled, moving Markham to third base. A ball past the catcher meant Markham could steal home and he did to make it 6-1. Muench, however, extinguished the threat once again, getting the next batter to pop out. And, after going to a 3-2 full count on the batter after that, Muench struck him out.
"Henry was throwing gas," said Markham.
"They actually hit me last time," said Muench, who threw 91 pitches in this game, with 63 of them strikes, for a 69 percent strike rate. "My fastball was working for me tonight."
There was good defense at work in this game,too. Especially notable was Rays' center fielder Justin Murphy, who made two catches covering ground and diving for the ball.
"That guy is a human vacuum cleaner," said Rays manager Rick Southhall.
Southhall liked what his team did this year, starting off slow before finishing the season strong.
"We started out the season 1-5, but the team began to believe in themselves and bonded. And then we got in the tourney and the loser's bracket, but never gave up," said Southall. "The kids battled through adversity and got to play a very good team in the championship and the game was closer than the final score indicated."
Players for the Cubs are: Jarek Woodward, Henry Muench, Isaac Patchen, Dylan Pool, Spencer Burgess, Jasper Mors, Own Ruf, Emilio Suarez, Alex Flemming, Sam Miller, Nic Fotopolous and Lucas Fredericks. The manager is Jason Woodward and coach is Jon Muench.
Players for the Rays are: Justin Murphy, Eli Markham, Paul Johnson, Ulee Hammer, Nick Cooper, Ben Trigg, Jay McCoy, Gabe Palmer, Jamare McClure, Brandon Marks, Julian Rodriguez, Hayden Hastings. The manager is Rick Southhall. Coaches are Mike Murphy and Shawn Ya.
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