Hazelgrove homer sparks West Seattle rally: They defeat Seattle Central 7-5

By Ed Shepherd
SPORTS CORRESPONDENT

West Seattle came from behind, thanks to a momentous Nick Hazelgrove home run that spurred a five-run fourth inning, to beat Seattle Central, 7-5, in a game they had to win in order to force a second game of the championship for the Little League District 7 All Stars Tournament at Pac West Fields Saturday.
"That was our win, that five-run inning," said West Seattle manager Isaiah Brent.

"The momentum shift from Nick's home run gave us our five runs," said Brent. "There weren't even any runners on base when he hit it out."

West Seattle wasn't even in the lead when Hazelgrove hit his blast. Jack Peterson also deserves mention as closing out a good ball game that Maddox Brent started and pitched well in, too, for West Seattle.
But, first, before all that, to the start of the game, as West Seattle did take a lead in the top of the first inning on a Maddox Brent single, hitting the ball hard, and it hit the glove of the Seattle Central third baseman and popped out. Then Matt Acarregui smashed the ball past a diving center fielder into the gap in right-center and the ball didn't stop until it reached the fence and Acarregui didn't stop running until he stood on third base, with an RBI triple, scoring Brent to make it 1-0.

But, then, Seattle Central came back to tie it in the bottom of the second inning on a RBI-single followed by a couple walks, bases loaded a couple times, and, a couple runs forced in by walks that made it 3-1.
But then came the Hazelgrove show, in the top of the fourth inning for West Seattle. Or, at least, it was the act that started the show as he took a pitch and hit it over the center field fence that made it a 3-2 Seattle Central lead.

Hazelgrove wasn't hitting so well in this All Stars tournament up to this point.
Manager Brent, too, spoke to Hazelgrove a bit before his at-bat, touching his player's chin, encouraging him, coaching him.

"I kind of held his chin," said manager Brent. "I said, 'Got to keep your head down, eye on the ball, don't chase high pitches, just go for low pitches in the strike zone."
A lot was said then, actually.
"I was in a little bit of a slump," said Hazelgrove. "And, I think I got my way out of it."
What about that at-bat?

"I was a little more patient at the plate," he said. "I waited for the right pitch and I just swung."
What did it do for your team?

"I think it made everyone come alive," said Hazelgrove.

And, alive West Seattle came with the bats, hitting for five runs on five hits, which is how many hits they had altogether through the first three innings.

Starting off the rally following Hazelgrove's big help in the fourth was Triol, drawing a walk. Then Felix Schlede hit a RBI single and it was tied up, 3-3. The chatter kept coming from the dugout, "Let's get fired up. We are fired up."

And, "Westside. Westside. Westside."

And, "Hit, hit. Hit-hit-hit."

And then Leers hit it to center field and the Central player misjudged the ball and it dropped. So, it was an RBI for Leers and made it, 4-3, when Schlede scored on the play. Then, Will Godwin drew a walk and next Matt Acarregui hit a 2-RBI single up the middle and it was 6-3, West Seattle.

Then, taking over for Brent pitching, was Peterson, in the bottom of the fourth inning as Seattle Central came to bat. Peterson started off a little shaky with his pitches as he walked the first Central batter he faced. Then, a single up the middle became an RBI when the center fielder misplayed a ball, missing the catch. That cut the West Seattle lead to 6-4.

Then, still in the Central bottom of the fourth inning, another run scored on a good then bad sequence as a shortstop to first throw-out was nice as Jaxton Helmstetler made a nice play. But then a throw to get the
Central runner going to third base was thrown well but not caught well and the runner scored, narrowing West Seattle's lead to one run, 6-5.

Then, a Central single up the middle to center field, and a double steal, put runners at second and third base. And that was likely getting manager Brent a little nervous.
But Peterson knew what he had to do.
"I just kept throwing," said Peterson.

Throwing strikes.

And Peterson got the next batter to strike out to end the inning, disposing of that big threat.

From there, West Seattle rolled, with a nice insurance run in their top of the fifth inning from a Triol double followed by a Leers single and a Maddox Brent RBI single that made it 7-5.

No more runs would be scored in this game as Peterson would allow one walk in the bottom of the sixth for Seattle Central before he painted the corners, that is, threw strikes that hit the outside of the plate. And, that was the ball game when he struck out the last two batters of the game.

"He had control issues during the season," said manager Brent. "But he worked with pitching coaches and he threw so hard in this game, strikes, in key situations. If he wasn't throwing first-pitch strikes, he was throwing second and third pitch strikes."

Peterson knew his job was big, to close out a game that if his West Seattle team lost, was done for the season. No chance to force a second game against Seattle Central and win that and be champions and also go on to play in state in Richland starting July 12.

"I was scared," said Peterson. "I didn't want to lose the game for us so I had a lot of pressure under me."
But, Peterson locked in and he did it and West Seattle would do it, too, that is, win the 9-10 All Stars District 7 championship in the back-to-back next game against Seattle Central.

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