West Seattle team photo with players and coaches. Kelvin Wallace, Chris Frost, Henry Ruf, Joe Pare, Eli Dever, Noah Oehling, Will Douglas, Hunter Hammington, Nate Pelley, Nate Villegas. Coaches are Brian Pare and Kevin Ruf and Manager is Dave Douglas .
SLIDESHOW: West Seattle Little League intermediates gave their all in championship loss
By Ed Shepherd
SNOHOMISH--No more games.
No going to Nogales, Ariz. for regionals for the West Seattle All Stars players, coaches and manager to represent District 7.
But the Intermediate age 11-13 players had a ball at state and gave themselves quite a baseball ride, making it all the way to the championship game before losing to South Everett, 14-3, at Willis Tucker Park Thursday.
Representing District 7 mighty fine at state is good, indeed.
And, that might not be too bad at all to not be having to fundraise and figure out all the logistics and such to go to Nogales, because, this time of year, it's around 100 degrees in that southern Arizona town.
Quipped Kevin Ruf, a coach of the West Seattle team after the game to the players, "It may not be hell down there, but they say you can see it from there."
So, not winning the Intermediate 50-70 championship for these 11 to 13 year olds was OK, after all.
"Glad we got here," said Dave Douglas, West Seattle's manager. "In a nutshell, they were the better team. All good things come to an end."
And first baseman/pitcher Kelvin Wallace said that he had missed some good things because of playing ball the better part of June and almost halfway through July now.
"I already canceled two of my vacations because of playing All Stars," said Wallace, who wasn't lamenting the fact he played baseball, just looking at the bright side of not extending the season past state.
And, getting as far as West Seattle did, including winning a 13-12 affair over Camas to open it's tourney play before a loss to this same South Everett team, 20-0, and improving on that score in the final were all nice things to come away with.
Not to mention getting shiny medallions put around their necks.
So, a nice run, and, all that said above, the most scintillating thing West Seattle did was come back against Issaquah, in the loser bracket final played before this championship. In that one, West Seattle trailed, 7-2, going into the sixth inning and scored 13 runs to take a 13-7 lead, which was never relinquished.
"It was really good," said Noah Oehling, of the Issaquah (District 9) comeback. "We had a crazy ending."
But, this team was not just crazy good at comebacks in this tournament, having come back against Camas twice to win that one. They were a little spectacular in the way their All Stars team was assembled.
Take, for example, the team they played in the championship, District 1. It was a combined team of three charters: South Everett, Alderwood and Lynnwood, while West Seattle was just that charter.
"They pooled their All Stars from three regular season teams," said Eli Dever, who spoke there of the District 1 team.
Wallace added, "We did pretty well in All Stars for not being a real All Stars team. Everyone who came and signed up made the team."
The game against South Everett almost got close and the pendulum of momentum swayed the District 1's way in the top of the first inning, scoring three runs on three hits. But, West Seattle came back and scored two runs as Chris Frost drew a walk and Henry Ruf singled in Frost, cutting South Everett's lead to 3-1. Then Ruf stole second base. Dever then hit a sacrifice and that mvoed Ruf to third base. Will Douglas hit an RBI single and that made it a 3-2 ballgame when Ruf scored.
So, there was West Seattle showing like they did against Camas, against Issaquah, they could and would comeback.
That's what one of Manager Douglas' coaches said, too.
"They do that every game," said Brian Pare, coaching along with Kevin Ruf and Douglas. "Even though a tough score, they never give up."
And the score would not get any closer after that, unfortunately, as South Everett put two runs up in the top of the second on a walk and an RBI single, mixed in with an infield error.
Then, in the top of the third, District 1 added another run on a single, double, and, sacrifice to make it 6-2.
Still with fight in them, with Frost pitching after he pitched 20 pitches the game before and the game before and most of the other pitchers were unavailable for this game because of reaching pitch count limits in the previous three games, West Seattle scored a run in the bottom of the third inning.
Frost opened the third with a single before Ruf looked to be hitting the ball over the second baseman's outstretched mitt on the edge of the outfield grass but he caught it. That would have been nice momentum, putting runners at first and second with no outs. But, that did not turn out that way. Frost did steal second, third, and home, ctting the foe's lead to 6-3.
Then District 1 scored another two runs in the top of the fourth inning on a single and hit by pitch play as Frost was getting tired from all the pitches he'd thrown in the game, 75, plus the other games earlier.
"He was done," said mnager Douglas.
Frost came off the mound after the fourth inning and things just went from bad to horrible for West Seattle with District 1 scoring seven runs on five hits in the top of the sixth inning to 10-run rule this game and end West Seattle's state championship run one game short.
"It wasn't the best we could have played," said Wallace. "We didn't hit very well and the umpire had a low and away strike zone, and the pitchers did a good job exploiting that."
But, the season is through and all the cheering and fanfare and hoopla that West Seattle generated for friends, family, and, fans that cheered wildly, like Joseph Raya, can rest now.
"We had the best fans," said Wallace.
And, what about Nogales, Ariz., where South Everett gets to go now?
"In that heat," said Wallace. "Yikes."
And, so on to next year thinking, and, hoping that they can win state and go to some place cool like, maybe, where West Seattle's Little League Majors team will play state starting July 12, in their own backyard of Bar S Fields.
"Hopefully, everyone comes back next season and we can play as Juniors."
So, overachievers, not with the same deck of cards as a team pooling players from three charters, like South Everett, was West Seattle. And, nearly winning it all.
"If someone would have told us before we went to state that we would have finished second, no one on the team would have believed you," said Oehling.
Photo gallery for this story