West Seattle 9-10s plaster another foe

By Ed Shepherd
SPORTS CORRESPONDENT

On Thursday, West Seattle manager Isaiah Brent watched his team score 20 runs against a foe for the second straight loser bracket elimination game. This time it ousted Rainier, 20-6, and it is now rebounding handsomely from a first game loss to Seattle Central in the Little League age 9-10 All Stars District 7 Tournament at Pac West Fields.

The first game of the tourney against Seattle Central was a 9-6 loss that included a lot of errors, and it wasn't pretty to watch for West Seattle's players, coaches, or fans. But, now, after having beaten Renton, 20-2, on Tuesday and this big win against Rainier, Brent is saying his team can beat the best District 7 has to offer in All Stars.

"I think we can lose to every team if we show up like we did last Sunday against Seattle Central, or we can beat every team if we show up like the last two games," said Brent. "The kids have to bring it but our chances are really good if they do."

In this latest game, West Seattle staved off elimination by batting out 18 hits for the game along with some strong pitching from starter, and Isaiah's son, Maddox Brent, and, relief pitchers Jack Peterson, Jack Leers and James Triol, not to mention some strong hitting, too.

West Seattle scored right off the bat in the top of the first inning, with Nolan Whorton -- the team's leadoff hitter -- singling via a high chopper over the shortstop's head into left field. Maddox Brent, then, drew a walk. Matt Acarregui's sacrifice moved the runner's to second and third base and Jaxton Helmstetler hit them home for a 2-0 West Seattle lead. Then Peterson hit an RBI single, scoring Helmstetler and improving West Seattle's lead to 3-0.

Rainer came up in the bottom of the first and nearly picked up huge momentum as a walk was followed by a runner stealing second base and going to third base because of second base obstruction called by the umpire. Then a walk by pitcher, Brent, put him in a tight spot. And Brent struck the next batter out. Then a fielder's choice play became a sacrifice as the runner on third base scored even though a pitcher to first put-out was recorded for the second out of the inning.

Then, with a runner on third base for Rainier, the next batter hit the ball to Brent's side, just off the mound. Brent picked up the ball and threw it and pulled first baseman Felix Schlede off the bag at first.
"That was the time I made a pretty wild throw, but Felix tagged him out," said Maddox Brent.

Manager Brent spoke of Schlede's nice work in that important situation.

"We practice all the time that every time there is an errant throw that pulls you off the bag and down the first base line that you are to catch it and swipe at the runner," he said. "Felix made a great play for us there. Huge."

Then West Seattle added a run in the top of the second inning on a Felix Schlede hard hit going by the second baseman. Then Whorton smashed the ball into left field for a 2-RBI double to make it 4-1 and Maddox Brent singled in Whorton for a 5-1 lead. Then Will Godwin was put out on a fielder's choice but Brent scored when Rainier committed a fielding error after that and it was 6-1.

But this game was not over as Rainier had comeback on its mind and a walk, single, walk and 2-RBI single trimmed West Seattle's lead to 6-3. Then another run scored on the ball getting by second base on a Rainier steal attempt to make it 6-4. And still another run scored on a fielder's choice throw to first base where the runner came home to make it 6-5.

That's the time that West Seattle's Jack Leers came in to pitch, with two outs and runners on second and third base, quite a sticky situation for Leers as Rainier was trying to steal the momentum, not to mention the lead.
For that crucial part of the game, Leers knew what he needed to do.

"I needed to focus on the mitt, take a deep breath and concentrate," said Leers.
And in that jam situation, with two runners on and Rainier a hit away from taking the lead, Leers jammed the batter by throwing a perfect inside pitch.

"Yeah, I threw it inside because my catcher told me to," said Leers.

"By where he placed his mitt."

Milo Sorensen played catcher for West Seattle, by the way.

"Milo framed it," said manager Brent.
Sorensen, in this game and other games before, including the regular season, was great behind the plate, stopping balls. If they did get by him his hustle was bar none in tracking it down and making sure the runner on third wasn't thinking of coming home.
"Milo has a fearless attitude," said manager Brent. "He's tough-nosed and always hustling. His play is a work of art."
And of Leers?
"He's smart. He knows where to locate his pitches," said manager Brent. "All my pitchers can work the edges of the strike zone. Jack was great in this game, he faced six batters, and, only threw 20 pitches."
Keeping a pitcher under 20 pitches thrown means they can throw the next game, so that's huge to get that kind of production from Leers.

Manager Brent's other pitchers do not need to throw and, thus, can stay fresh. That's needed when one is going through the loser's bracket, playing games day after day.
And, perhaps, Leer's work there inspired his team, for when West Seattle came up for it's at-bats in the top of the third inning, they blew this game wide open. The Westside team really hit the ball, getting nine hits for 11 runs.

Starting off the third fire works, so to speak, Helmstetler singled to center field and Leers showed he was more than just a pitcher, hitting the ball to left field for an RBI single that made it 7-5.

Then Sorensen followed with a hard, deep shot to center field that the fielder got a glove on just barely, snow cone style, but it popped out of his mitt and continued toward the fence and Leers scored on the RBI double to make it 8-5.

Next up, Liam Floyd hit the ball hard, over the center field's head, and Sorensen scored for a 9-5 lead.
Then Jayden Holloway drew a walk and Whorton made it 3-for-3 hitting for him with an RBI single and it was 10-5. Then, Maddox Brent walked to load the bases. Will Godwin turned his belly on the ball and hit it hard to the Rainier pitcher, who gloved it, momentarily, before it popped out and Floyd came in from third to make it 11-5.

West Seattle's bats were, indeed, on fire, again, in back-to-back games.

The dugout began cheering, too, "We are fired up. Let's get fired up."

And the runs kept coming in this second inning from the hot West Seattle bats, with Acarregui and Helmstetler both picking up two RBIs apiece as well as Leers making his second trip to the plate in the inning and a ball to left-center scored two more RBI to make it 15-5. And Holloway came up again in this inning that West Seattle batted around, plus four batters more coming to the plate, and Holloway's swing landed the ball in shallow left field for two more RBI and a 17-5 score.

West Seattle added three more in the top of the fourth inning as Maddox Brent, Godwin, Leers and Hazelgrove all provided the offense for the 20-5 increase in the score.

Rainier added one inconsequential run in the bottom of the fourth and the 10-run rule was enforced and the game was over at this time.

"Westside, Westside, Westside," the players shouted, excitedly, while in a huddle with their coaches after the game.

"We've scored 20 runs each in each of our last two games," said manager Brent. "These kids can really hit if they are all on."