Photo by Gerardo Bolong
Missed cuts like this occurred often in the first five innings for West Seattle against Eastlake.

Woodward home run keys West Seattle comeback

By Gerardo Bolong

Playing through until the end of the game has been the West Seattle theme through district and state tournament play.

With the odds stacked against them, the District 7 champions kept dealing out the cards and came back from two deficits to continue their crusade for the state championship.

Jarek Woodward's 3-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning tied the game at 5-5 before Konrad Gerhardt's ground ball produced the winning run in a 6-5 Westsiders win against District 9 Eastlake at the 2014 Washington State Little League Majors ages 11-12 All-Star baseball tournament hosted by District 7 at the Bar-S Playfields in the 75th year of United States Little League baseball.

Woodward made amends for giving up the go ahead 3-run home run to Eastlake in the top of the frame.

"It hit the end of the bat, so it didn't sound solid, but I knew it was going out," he said. "It was electrical energy. I wanted to make up for giving up the homer."

In Gerhardt's case, he didn't see the conclusion of the play on his ground ball.

"I was just hoping to run out the ball and get to first," he recalled. "I heard the crowd roar and I knew it was something good. Then, I turned."

What Gerhardt didn't see was the infielder overthrowing the shortstop on an attempted force out at second base, allowing the winning run to score.

Starting pitcher Henry Muench gutted out five and one third innings of one-run, one-hit ball while hurling 88 pitches before leaving the mound in a 1-1 tie and a runner on first base.

"I feel great," he said. "It was one of my best outings."
For the better part of five innings, it was nearly all quiet on the West Seattle Bar-S Fields.

The home team District 7 West Seattle All-Stars notched the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning. Ulee Hammer led off with a stand up double to left field. Following Hammer's lead, Kenji Suzuki moved Hammer to third base on a single. West Seattle then scored its only run until the sixth inning on a Muench fielder's choice ground out.
Responding to the Westsiders' tally, District 9 knotted the proceedings after two walks and a fielder's choice ground ball that was not completed, loading the bases ahead of Grady Robison's run-scoring single with no outs. It was West Seattle defense that limited the damage with shortstop Suzuki fielding a ground ball and throwing to catcher hammer for a force out at home plate. Quickly snapping off a throw to first baseman Max Debiec, Hammer nailed the batter running to first base to complete the double play. A fielder's choice ground out ended the threat.

Locked in a 1-1 tie, Eastlake seized a 2-1 lead on Carter Jensen's RBI single in the top of the sixth inning.

With his team down to its last out in the home half of the inning, Muench pulled a pitch over the left field fence to force a 2-2 stand off and extra innings.

"Coach told me to make contact," he said. "We just never give up."
Resiliency showed up again for both teams in the eighth inning.

An Eastlake single by Grady Robison and a walk to Garrett Carney gave Calvin Kirchoff the opportunity to launch a 3-run homer that sent District 9 into delirium for a 5-2 lead that put the Westsiders on the brink of defeat and elimination from their home tournament before West Seattle played its final and winning hand.

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