Seeventh inning boosts West Seattle
By Gerardo Bolong
It took seven innings, but the West Seattle Little League baseball Majors 11-12 ages All-Stars finally defeated previously unbeaten Rainier 7-5 in July 5th morning play to force an afternoon provisional championship finale at the 2014 District VII tournament.
This encounter reached the seventh inning in a 4-4 stand off thanks to a pair of timely defensive gems in the outfield.
In the top half of the sixth inning, Rainier center fielder Dillon Cooper's diving catch stranded West Seattle runners on first and second bases, respectively.
Left fielder Justin Murphy, the smallest player on the Valley Ridge field, lunged to his right for an inning ending diving catch that snuffed out a bases loaded Rainier threat in the home half of the inning.
"When I was running, I felt my hands sweat," he said. "When I caught it, for a second I thought it (the ball) might pop out."
West Seattle began its seventh inning rally with a lead off single from Jarek Woodward. An infield error plus an ensuing late throw on a fielder's choice ground ball resulted in one Westside run with two outs. Murphy then shined at bat, delivering a two-run double that made the score 7-4.
In the bottom of the inning, the resilient Rainier squad posted a run on a throwing error before West Seattle buckled down to finally force the rubber match.
"It was a little edgy," West Seattle manager Jason Woodward told his players later, "The team got us back."
Opening scoring salvos were initiated by West Seattle in the second inning. With a runner on first base by way of an infield error, Max Debiec whistled a single into right center field. Strong, right handed batter Paul Johnson drove through an RBI single and rushing to second base on the throw to home plate. Later, he advanced to third base on a wild pitch, making it easy for him to score on a Jack Summers infield ground out.
In the third inning, the West Seattle All-Stars edged slightly further ahead. Two fielder's choice ground outs, two singles, a Rainier throwing error and a wild pitch netted another WS run.
Rainier responded in the bottom of the inning. Cooper's lead off single began a Rainier at bat that produced three runs on two hits and two errors as the game was tied at 3-3.
Following a scoreless fourth inning, West Seattle hitter Ulee Hammer nailed a pitch and pounded it well over the 225-foot left field barrier to build a 4-3 West Seattle margin.
"It felt pretty good to help our offense," Hammer said. "I saw it go over first and thought about it."
The lead was short-lived because the ever persistent Rainier group came back again. Walks to Marshall Simon and Aaron Barber, respectively, put a pair of runners on base. Two wild pitches eventually enabled Rainier to tie West Seattle at 4-all after five complete innings, setting the stage for the late inning dramatics.
Henry Muench pitched the final three innings to earn the win for West Seattle.