Pac West’s Mac Greenan, #16, runs back to second base while West Seattle’s Jackson Sullivan, #11, stretches for the ball. West Seattle won with a final score of 10 – 0.
SLIDESHOW: West Seattle wallops National; Superior pitching rules
By Ed Shepherd
West Seattle 10-11 Little League All Star Gabe Palmer knew what he needed to do with the bat, and, did it.
But, afterward, asked about his hits that helped his team overcome a 2-0 deficit late in the game for an 8-3 opening round tournament win over South Highline National at Pac West Fields Saturday, Palmer directed the attention to his pitcher, Nathaniel Ardales.
"I did good, but the credit goes to our pitcher, Nat," said Palmer. "He did it."
Ardales pitched great, after some early rumblings in the game throwing the baseball.
In the first inning, Ardales walked two batters and allowed an RBI single and that meant a 1-0 National lead. And, in the second inning for National, three singles meant another run would cross the plate.
So West Seattle was down, 2-0, after two innings completed and Ardales' shaky start could have made him question himself. But, no.
"I shook it off and moved on," said Ardales.
Ardales allowed one more run in his complete game pitching performance of 79 pitches and that run was inconsequential, coming in the top of the sixth for National with the score 8-2 West Seattle.
A big bunch of hits by West Seattle in the fourth and fifth innings paid off in those eight runs tallied from having scored no runs through three innings. And Palmer's contribution is the biggest explanation of all, not to mention, exclamation, of how things suddenly changed for the better for West Seattle.
Palmer came off the bench in the bottom of the fourth, with National ahead, 2-0. Ahead of him in batting, Reece McAllister drew a walk and Jacoby Landskov laid down a nice bunt to reach first base. Up came No. 9 hitter Palmer, subbing into the game.
Down, 2-0, All Stars, a lot of peers and parents watching and was Palmer nervous?
"I had a little bit of butterflies at first," said Palmer. "But after I creamed it I was having a lot of fun."
Palmer watched a pitch sail toward home plate and whipped the bat around on it for a 2-RBI double to right-center field and, just like that, it was a new ballgame, tied, 2-2.
Palmer explained what the mistake the National pitcher made was from his momentum-stinging at-bat.
"The mistake was both pitches I hit were curveballs, and, you don't want to throw a slugger a curve," said Palmer.
Boston Red Sox long time hitter, David Ortiz, is known as "Big Papi," as he consistently hits 30-plus home runs in a season and goes over 100 RBI and will probably be in the Hall Of Fame when his career is over, but, that said for this reason.
"We call Gabe, 'Big Pappy.'", said Ardales, smiling. "Gabe got two really big hits to put us in the lead."
Steve Joseph, the Manager of West Seattle, said, "What really helped us was bringing in a pinch hitter and he crushed it," said Joseph of Palmer, who pinch hit the big game-tying hit and then stayed in the game for more damage later on.
That Palmer timely cremation of the ball would be all of the scoring for West Seattle in the fourth.
But, after Andale struck out two and induced the third batter into a ground out for the National top half of the fifth, the bottom half of five would be more big stuff from Palmer. But, first, West Seattle would break the tie from other players chiming in on this comeback. Spencer Burgess singled and a Peter Nelson drive right up the middle and by the center fielder gave West Seattle the lead, 3-2.
Then, still in the bottom of the fifth, another player who didn't start, JP Dufour, hit an RBI triple and that made it, 5-2. And then Palmer came up again and bashed the ball one more time to the outfield for a 2-RBI single and that extended the West Seattle lead to 7-2.
Dylan Savage then drew a walk and stole bases, including home, making it 8-2.
That's how the game ended but for one insignificant run off Ardales in the top of the sixth inning. Even though it was a nice inside the park home run, West Seattle led by a ton and Ardales was pitching strong.
"Nathaniel pitched the entire game," said Joseph. "And to win and pitch an entire game is something to be proud of and I am proud of him for that."
This West Seattle team has six players that have all played together last year, too, on the 9-10 All Stars that won districts and went to state, so that's good camaraderie and chemistry.
Joseph's son, Dylan, explained that further, too.
"It's fun playing with everybody," he said. "I knew we would come back."
And the comeback is not complete without mentioning the coaches that help Joseph now and helped him last year, too.
"It's a dream team of coaching," said Joseph. "We've all coached teams in the past to championships. Coach Steve Savage and Brian Pare, who did a really good job with our pitcher, Nathaniel Ardales, in this game."
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