National 9-10s fall to West Seattle
By Ed Shepherd
South Highline National went a long ways in the Little League All Stars 9-10 Tournament, but fell short of the goal of representing District 7 at state.
They lost, 13-3, to West Seattle at Pac West Fields Friday.
After beating Pac West, 11-9, in a thriller in it's opener, it chilled Renton, 27-2, to be in the winner's bracket semifinal against Seattle Central but lost that one, 11-10, in heartbreaking fashion.
The loss to Seattle Central sent them into the loser's bracket to face West Seattle, with the winner going into the championship game to face Seattle Central.
"Our bats went silent for the first time in a while against Seattle Central and continued that here," said South Highline National manager Chad Parker, noting that his team led Seattle Central, 10-4, going into the bottom of the sixth, where the foe scored seven runs to win on a walk-off, game-winning three-run double.
The National offense against West Seattle just did not match it's opposition with runs on the scoreboard as through the first three innings West Seattle hit the ball 10 times to National's four.
In the top of the first inning, West Seattle gathered momentum quickly when it sent nine batters to the plate, getting back-to-back singles to start the game before a sacrifice fly to right field scored one run. Then more runs followed for West Seattle via an RBI single and a 2-RBI single for a 4-0 lead.
National came back for a run in the bottom of the first inning as Savario DeSimone singled to right field and Tate Parker hit a hard grounder that was too hot to handle for the West Seattle shortstop and that cut the lead to 4-1.
West Seattle added a run in the top of the second inning on a single, walk, and sacrifice grounder to make it 5-1.
Then National chipped at that lead with Jake Gwinn and Cole Fenton drawing walks. Then DeSimone hit a line drive fielded by the shortstop and thrown to first in time, but Gwinn came home on that sacrifice play and it was 5-2.
"They knew how to put the ball in play and get on base," said Peter Hollabaugh, who pitched well in a relief role for National in the top of the fourth, allowing no runs for West Seattle, the only inning that team didn't score a run. And, to note, Mason Hayes made an excellent catch, running in for the ball, in this inning.
After West Seattle tacked on three more runs, National had its best inning of the game. At least it had the most potential for big things to happen.
Starting out the third at-bats for National was Andy Perovich and he hit the ball hard into the right center field gap, as the ball rolled to the fence. After a ground out to third base, the next National batter, Parker, hit an RBI single to cut the West Seattle lead to 8-3. Then, with one out, a base-running error hurt National as a runner got in a pickle between second and third.
"Just can't give good teams extra outs," said Parker. "That really hurt us."
Said DeSimone, who pitched well against Pac West, pretty much shutting them out with his pitching in National's opener of All Stars.
"We played real hard the first two games and fell apart the last two," DeSimone said.
There was momentum that could have been had, based on Mason Hayes's single following up Parker's good hit. Then Jake Gwinn reached base on a hard hit up the middle that the diving shortstop could not quite glove. Then a ground out ended the National rally try.
West Seattle then put together five runs on two hits and three walks in the top of the fifth, getting to Hollabaugh after he'd pitched a shutout fourth inning against this high-powered West Seattle offense that had scored 40 runs it's last two games. That offensive output eclipsed Nationals' 38 runs of explosion in its first two games of All Stars.
"They knew how to put the ball in play and get on base," said Hollabaugh of West Seattle's hitters.
But Hollabaugh said his team could have hit better, too, and Hollabaugh did hit the ball in his at-bat in the botttom of the fifth inning so he didn't get down on himself too much after getting rocked on the mound in the top of the fifth.
"They started to hit the ball. I got down on myself a little bit but when I went up to bat the next time I hit the ball," said Hollabaugh.
Just would have been nice if the whole team would have hit the ball, but it left seven runners on base in the game.
"Against Renton, everyone came ready to play and had a good game," said Hollabaugh. "We all batted well, fielded the ball well."
Hollabaugh knows, too, that it could be his team playing in the championshp, that close loss to Seattle Central a big, tough game to take in. And, this one was just hard to understand why National could not show its best self.
"We didn't play to our potential," said Hollabaugh. "When our team actually plays our best game, we are a pretty good team. We would, actually, beat that team and go on to state."
Parker noted that his team has a lot of youth on it and West Seattle, he said, had a lot of players that were older than his majority.
"I have seven nine year olds on my team, and, I bet, that West Seattle team has , one or two, at the most," said Parker. "If we can get these young kids to come back and play next year, they will understand this experience and what it's all about."
South Highline National players are: Cadyn Sava, Saverio DeSimone, Andy Perovich, Peter Hollabaugh, Tate Parker, Mason Hayes, Jake Gwinn, Cole Fenton, Jack Sun, Mason Quijano, Evan Humphries, Jordan Anderson, Kaden Smith.