West Seattle Minors beat Southwest, 10-5
By Ed Shepherd
West Seattle age 9-10 Minors Little League player, Owen Earls, spoke for his team about its opening round Tournament of Champions loser-out game that gave these Nationals players a scare before going on to a 10-5 win over Southwest at Normandy Park City Hall Saturday.
"We had some fielding errors early in the game, we played sleepy and tired," said Earls.
That was on defense, but on offense, the Nationals looked wide awake.
In the bottom of the first inning they scored two runs on three hits, with leadoff hitter Nolan Whorton blasting the ball by the Southwest shortstop and left fielder for a double. After two struck out and James Triol drew a walk, Earls came to plate and drove the ball by the first baseman's head into right field and Whorton and Triol scored to make it 2-0.
But the Nationals showed that not-awake state of mind in the top of the second inning as a Southwest batter reached base by the ball going under the second baseman's mitt into center field. Then, the next batter hit a solid shot up the middle into center field and that ball went under the glove of the stooping player who was to the side of the ball and not in front of it. So it was 2-1 Nationals.
Southwest would tie it up when Richard Garcia scored on an off throw to third base, getting by the fielder and then the throw home got by the catcher, too, tying it 2-2.
Nationals manager Isaiah Brent called timeouts before each of the batter's hit for Southwest that led to the first and second runs of the game, trying to enliven his players in this game that started at 9 in the morning, an atypical time for a game start.
"It was like we were still asleep for half the game," said Brent. "I had to ride them and don't like to do that, but..."
The Nationals needed to wake up, at least defensively, albeit a nice pickle play to end the Southwest second inning at-bats came with Felix Schlede, Triol, and Whorton, teaming to get the runner in the middle of first and second base.
"A lot of kids don't do pickles at this age," said Brent.
Nationals did pickles three times in this game and got the runner out on two of them, and the other time they got him back to second base, so, defense, although spotty and leading to some Southwest runs early, was still not too shabby.
Offense was spot-on all the while, no lapse in it.
The Nationals took the lead in the bottom of the third inning on a Triol smash as his hard shot to left field went past the left fielder and under the fence for a ground-rule double. Felix Schlede walked, Earls singled, moving Triol to third base, and Triol stole home to make it 3-2 Nationals.
Again, back would come Southwest for three runs on two hits and a couple Nationals errors from throwing the baseball around the infield, so it was 4-3, Southwest.
One more run would score on a RBI sacrifice, so it was 5-3, Nationals.
"They made me sweat on that one," said Brent.
The Nationals' bats, again, saved their drowsy defense, in the bottom of the fourth, with Cashen Tomlinson drawing a walk and Dimitri Lawrence singling and Whorton's RBI single drawing the regular season champ within a run of Southwest at 5-4. And, on the play, Lawrence scored, too, on alert running to tie it 5-5.
Triol, who came in to pitch after three pitchers were first used for National, really, did well, allowing that sacrifice in the fourth before shutting down the Southwest side, 1-2-3 on strikeouts.
Triol admitted he was nervous, at first, his team down a run at the time of his entrance pitching.
"I did feel nervous," said Triol. "But once I got on a roll, I knew I could do it, and, I had good defense behind me."
It was good for Triol, and he threw only 20 pitches like all the other Nationals pitchers up to that point, because not going over 20 pitches means a pitcher can throw in the next game. And the TOC is a three-day tournament for the ones that keep winning.
Brent liked what he saw from Triol on the mound.
"Solid kid all year round, coach's kid," said Brent. "I love him coming in to close a game, he is reliable. James' bat was key, too."
So, with Triol's even-keel, steady pitching not allowing Southwest to come back, the Nationals put things away in the bottom of the fifth with four more runs on four hits.
Alex Zanolli led things off with a single followed by Dimitri Lawrence and Tomlinson drawing walks. Gavin Lawrence's RBI single scored Zanolli, 7-5. And Milo Sorensen 2-RBI single on a hot grounder up the middle, made it 9-5.
Ending the game's scoring was the team's leadoff hitter, Whorton, with another RBI to make it 10-5.
So a scary, sleepy, sweaty start was not so frightening in the end.
"I had faith in my kids," said Brent.