Photos by Gerardo Bolong
Two Giants players set up pregame snacks.

Nationals thump Giants

By Gerardo Bolong
CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It was a third inning uprising by the Nationals that secured an 11-1 four inning win against the Giants in the winners bracket semifinals of the South Highline National Little League Major playoffs held on Wed., June 4, at the Normandy Park City Hall Park fields.

After defeating the Braves in the first round ahead of this game, the unbeaten Nationals sailed straight to the Sun., June 8, championship round. The Giants face the Braves on Fri., June 6, for the right to win two straight games against the Nationals for the championship.

"This is a great group of kids," said Nationals manager Chad Allred. "Some have played together for two years, including our pitcher Gary Clark.We have great coaches in our league. Our pitcher (today) went deeper than expected. The team didn't make any defensive mistakes. I switched pitchers for the last out because Gary had maxed out his pitch count and I wanted him available for Sunday. We've done this before."
Due to its strong 11-3-1 regular season, the National team was strongly favored and showed its strength to explode away from a 1-1 deadlock after two complete innings.

Two walks sandwiched around Cadyn Sara's double loaded the bases. Clark's infield ground out tallied one run ahead of Connor Reiff's two-run triple. Ethan Cooke's infield single and Jack McGrath's fielder's choice ground ball added another run before Dylan Espeseth's 2 RBI single completed the six run uprising to send the Nationals into a 7-1 lead.
Four additional runs on five hits in the fourth inning gave the Nationals a 10-run lead that turned into a mercy rule victory after the Giants were unable to score in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The first two innings were very competitive with an infield throwing error wedged within a Simon Adams 1-out single and a walk to Bailey Bellance setting the stage for the underdog Giants to grab a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Aidan McGhehee delivered the run with an unassisted ground out to first base.

Walks and wild pitches set the table for Espeseth to even the game at 1-1 on a second inning single with the deciding late inning still ahead.
"The first couple of innings were exciting to watch," said Giants manager Clint Adams. "There was good baseball being played. Then we struggled defensively and couldn't come back from it. I'm proud of this team. They battled until the end.

After a slow start, National starting southpaw pitcher Clark put the clamps on the Giants, utilizing strong fastballs mixed with occasional curves to finish his three and two-thirds innings with a one-hitter and eight strike outs before being relieved by right hander Greger Covich on the final two batters before Covich recorded a hold by striking out the second of two batters he faced.

"My arm was getting into the game," he said. "I got warmed up and mainly used fast balls."

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