Photos by Ed Shepherd
players celebrating after the game

SLIDESHOW: National must play again

By Ed Shepherd
SPORTS CORRESPONDENT

It wasn't supposed to be this way, but, then, again, maybe it was, if one talked to South Highline National manager Pat Adams after West Seattle beat his team of 11 to 13 year olds, 12-11, in a seventh inning comeback of the Little League All Stars District 7 Intermediate championship first game at Pac West Fields Monday.

"First game" because West Seattle came through the loser's bracket in this double elimination tournament, having lost to National, 6-5, on Saturday. And, so, Tuesday at 6 p.m. will be the if-necessary game that decides who moves on to the state tournament happening in mid-July, which now brings us to the next part aforementioned about things "supposed to be this way."

Both West Seattle and National have played each other several times already in the past regular season as well as Saturday's game and wins have been by each club in close fashion. Well, aside from the two teams' one meeting where West Seattle won the game by 10 runs, the rest were close.

West Seattle won the second game played this season by a run and then National won the next meeting by a couple runs. Then, as just mentioned, National won the last meeting by a run.

"Whenever we play this team, it's a battle, back-and-forth," said National manager, Adams.

"Unfortunately, they had last ups and they beat us by one."
That's how things went, and, according to past performance, anyway, are how things are supposed to go with these two clubs and the Tuesday championship should be no diferent -- a nailbiter.

And Caleb Dierda, who hit well for National and played well behind the plate at catcher, had this to say, walking away from this tough comeback loss to West Seattle.

"The team played hard," said Dierda. "We will come out tomorrow and we will win. I count on it. We did have the advantage in this game
(win and champs), but we fell. They beat us by a run."

For the game, National jumped out to a lead in the top of the first inning and Dierda was right there in the middle of the action with a triple to the left field corner. Peter Shelley then got out on a shortstop to first throw but Dierda motored home to make it 1-0, National.

Then, in the bottom of the first inning, West Seattle tied things up on a walk and an RBI sacrifice at 1-1.

To note the closeness of this game that played out every bit as competitive as most all the others, just like it was supposed to, as it had three lead changes and was tied many times.

National unbroke this first tie of the game with a Chabot double in the top of the third inning followed by Dierda hitting the ball hard to right field which was dropped and
Chabot wound up at third, so, runners on the corners. Then, Pete Shelley hit the ball to the right center field corner and both Chabot and Dierda scored to make it 3-1, National.

West Seattle came back up in the bottom of the third and scored two to tie things up again, 3-3, on a single, a walk, and a 2-RBI single.
Then, in the bottom of the fourth inning, West Seattle took a 6-3 lead on a walk and back-to-back RBI singles and an RBI double.

There was a potential interference play mixed in the fourth, too, on National's at-bats in the top half of the inning as a West Seattle runner on second base ran to third base off a hit to shortstop and the umpires gathered but, to the National fans chagrin, no change to an out of the runner was called.

Dierda catching could be heard saying, "Yeah, he (shortstop) couldn't see the ball. How's he supposed to get him out?"

And, so, that controversy aside, West Seattle increased its lead one more run on a single and RBI sacrifice to 7-3.

That's where some could think National should just start preparing for the if-necessary game Tuesday, but National roared back in the top of the sixth.

Dierda led off with a triple to right field and Shelley hit him home to cut West Seattle's lead to 7-4. Then Douglas Hobbs singled, moving Shelley to third base. Payton Adams, who pitched well in this game for National, came to the plate and hit an RBI single, scoring Shelley, to knock the deficit to 7-5. Judah Meyering drew a walk and runners were at second and third base. Ryan Bigelow's 2-RBI single to center field helped National retake the lead at 8-7. Then Joey Rivero hit a popup to the pitcher, who dropped the ball so runners were on first and third. Cole Thompson's RBI single came next and it was a 9-7 National advantage.

National brought one more run across in the sixth on a strange play where Dierda struck out but then reached first base after the catcher could not hold on to the third strike. Rivero scored on the play, too, so, National led 10-7.

West Seattle, in the bottom of the sixth, scored a run to knife the National lead to 10-8 and then National, in the top of the seventh, scored on an Adams double to right field followed by a Michael Ung RBI single, so, increasing it's lead over West Seattle to 11-8.

But West Seattle then scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to get the walk-off single victory off the bat of Chris Frost.

"Caleb did an excellent job at shortstop, and was great behind the plate for us," said National manager Adams. "Things just didn't fall our way."
So the comeback was good by your guys before West Seattle came back in it's last at-bats?

"That was good," said Adams. "It was a good game. We shouldn't be too down about it. We will come out and win tomorrow."