West Seattle Intermediates off to good start
By Ed Shepherd
SNOHOMISH--Nice start for the West Seattle baseball team, winning a game close to the finish against Camas, 13-12, in it's opener of the state Little League All Stars Intermediate 50-70 Tournament at Tucker Willis Fields Sunday.
"Good game, back and forth for this team," said Dave Douglas, the Westside's manager. "It's never easy with this team. A lot of plays to be made. Sometimes, you make them and sometimes you don't."
West Seattle received good pitching from four pitchers. Joe Pare started the game throwing 65 pitches, then Chris Frost, throwing 22, and Kelvin Wallace, throwing 40. Henry Ruf pitched the final inning and got the save. Wallace got the win.
"This was Joe's game to do most of the pitching," said Douglas. "Chris pitched great. Kelvin pitched great, went a little longer than I wanted but that's the way this game goes, sometimes. Henry closed it."
This tournament is long when you go through the loser's bracket as, if West Seattle had lost to Camas, they would play Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and, the championship and if-necessary game on Thursday to win it all while the winner's bracket team's road is much less rocky.
For the winner's bracket way to victory, West Seattle simply needs now to win on Monday at 6 p.m. And, if they win that, they go straight to Thursday's championship game.
Pitching is crucial in this tourney and West Seattle is sitting pretty in that regard because if a pitcher throws under 20 pitches in a game they can pitch the next game.
"We only burned two of our pitchers, Joe and Kelvin," said Douglas. "And, after Monday's game, those two guys will be eligible to pitch again Thursday."
So, that's huge.
This game was a teeter-totter affair, with the lead having changed three times and was tied three times, too, at 1-1, 7-7, and 10-10.
West Seattle scored first in the top of the second inning as Will Douglas, the manager's son, hit a looping double well over first base and into the right field corner, trailing away from that fielder. Then Kelvin Wallace nearly got all of the ball, just missing a home run, as it hit the top of the fence, but that RBI double still scored Douglas easy to make it 1-0.
In Camas' bottom of the first, to note, West Seattle's left fielder, Eli Dever, set the tone of this game, running a long ways for a foul ball, running into the fence, in fact, full bore, making quite a sound when he hit it and not even making the catch. But, regardless, that was some effort and Camas knew West Seattle was in it to win it defensively.
"I busted out two of the brackets for my braces," said Dever.
And, offensively, too, getting nine hits. Camas was no slouch though -- they got 11 hits for the game.
Camas scored off Pare with no hits in its bottom of the second inning, getting two walks before a sacrifice to center field scored one run. Pare struck out the next batter and Dever made a nice catch in center field.
If you ask Pare, if Camas was a good hitting team, he would say, "Yeah, but mostly they got their runs on errors."
Mostly errors as, after Camas tied it and West Seattle went ahead 4-1 on a Frost double, Pare RBI single and two runs by a passed ball of the Camas catcher as Dever and Oehling scored, a mighty big error led to four unearned runs.
After a fly out to Dever and a single, the next batter moved the Camas runner home on a sacrifice, cutting West Seattle's lead to 4-2, in this the bottom of the third inning. Then, a single to left field meant the bases were loaded. But Pare induced the next batter to hit a playable grounder to shortstop Douglas there, and he scooped the ball before it jiggled out of his mitt. Then, he booted the ball, to boot, and that allowed a runner to score, making it a one run, 4-3, West Seattle edge. So, when the next batter up hit a 2-RBI single, both those runs were unearned. But that didn't matter, the score was still 6-4.
Now, that said about Douglas, stay tuned, because if familiar with that old gospel song, "I've been redeemed," then the ending of this game is for you.
So West Seattle now trailed, 5-4, in the third and Camas would score one more, making it 6-4 on new West Seattle pitcher Frost's entering the game. The ball was actually catchable in right field, too, but the sun was in the right fielder's eyes in 90 degree heat.
West Seattle was far from throwing in the towel despite the sweat saturating their brows and a good Camas team coming back on them twice now to tie or take the lead. So, West Seattle scored in the top of the fourth inning on a Nathan Pelley single, a Frost walk, a Ruf walk, and Joe Pare doing with the bat as well as the arm for his team, knocking the ball to left field for a 2-RBI single, and West Seattle tied the game, 6-6.
Then, Pare ran home to make it a 7-6 game on a nice piece of situational hitting from Dever to the first baseman.
Camas was a worthy foe and they tied it in the bottom of the fourth on a single, walk and RBI coming from the third baseman's throw pulling Douglas off the bag at first base. Douglas made a nice swiping tag and did tag the runner before he hit first base but the ball popped out of his mitt when it collided with the runner to make it a 7-7 game.
Camas then one-upped West Seattle's offensive work, taking the lead in the bottom of the fifth on a leadoff double to the fence followed by a sacrifice fly to left field. A 2-RBI double put the Vancouver, Wash. area team up by three runs, 10-7.
With the fans cheering them on, not giving up on these 11 to 13 year olds transitioning in pitching distance to home and basepath distance hence, "50-70," the West Seattle young men went to work with "Let's go, Westside, let's go."
In the sixth comeback, Frost led off with a double to right center, taking the first pitch for a line-drive ride almost to the fence. Then Ruf hit Frost home to cut Camas' lead to 10-8.
Pare singled, then, and stole second base before Devers showed his defense could be matched by his offense, hitting a key 2-RBI double that tied this game up, 10-10.
Definitely a never-say-die attitude from this kid, who knew what to say when asked if he was having fun if they lost.
"Yeah, because we'd still be able to play baseball," said Dever.
Because, though in the loser's bracket, Dever knew his team could comeback.
West Seattle took the lead after Dever's clutch hit with Noah Oehling, the team's hustling catcher when he's not playing somewhere in the field like second base, hitting a RBI single to make it 11-10.
Wallace hit another big hit to the outfield, not quite as far as his first at-bat slam, but, close, and that made it 12-10, West Seattle was really rallying now.
Capping off this fine offensive display in the top of the sixth, Nathan Villegas' RBI sacrifice to first base scored Wallace and it was 13-10.
Camas came back one more time with two runs in its bottom of the sixth on a single and two RBI hits. But Ruf came on and closed the game, and that was after he fielded a ball and came up flinging his right hand, his throwing arm.
"I just didn't catch it with my glove, it hit my finger," said Ruf. And, one thing's for sure, Ruf came on in the bottom of the seventh, his team up one run against a good hitting team who outhit them for the game. And, Ruf caught a line-drive right at him for the first out. And two walks put runners at first and second base. Then things got dicey when a fielder's choice out allowed runners to second and third base with two outs.
And that's where Douglas, the catcher, re-enters the picture, redeeming himself big-time in this game for that error he made at shortstop, leading to four unearned Camas runs in the third.
Douglas saw the runner on third base leading too far off the bag and during the Camas at-bat threw a dart, looking every bit as a Seahawks' QB Russell Wilson throw, a perfectly thrown over-the-shoulder touchdown pass. And, that ball hit the mitt as the Camas runner slid into it before the bag.
"Will came through for us in the end, which made a big difference," said Pare, not even mentioning that error.
Douglas mentioned it, though, making light of it, in fact.
Douglas hurt after he made that error, but not in the way one might think.
"I had kind of a hurting leg after I kicked it," said Douglas.
Manager Douglas likes his team's way of doing things, even if it is a wild and wooly brand of baseball, back-and-forth with its play, making plays, not making plays. In the end, there is something about this team that does not quit.
"This is the character of our team," said Douglas, talking to his players in a shady area of the park after the game. "We're never out of it."