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Falcon ‘AA’ team ends summer in winning fashion

  • Written by Don Mann
Not to be outdone by their younger baseball brethren — the Woodinville "A" team winning state in Olympia a week prior — the hometown big boy "AA" team traveled across the mountains and kicked butt in Spokane, going 6-0 to capture the state championship in a come-from-behind title game.

Fact is, they weren’t even supposed to be there, but were granted a reprieve after dropping a doubleheader to bow out in districts and then were handpicked after the Liberty Cannons declared they could not field a team for the state tourney.

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Courtesy photo State champs, back row, l-to-r: Coach Alan Dillman, Harrison Van Till, Connor Zaback, Conner Brueske, Eric Anthony, Matthew Spencer, Max Carter, Jake Segesser, Coach Terry Agnew. Front: Riley Merlino, Chad Huck, Tommy Wick, Caleb Hamilton, Matt Laitala, Nate Wilham.
Woodinville made the most of its second chance.

"It was a weird deal but the kids were happy to be there and made the most of it," coach Alan Dillman said. "It was crazy but we somehow found a way to play the best ball of our season at the right time. The kids played great and deserved to win."

The Falcons defeated University — the host team — Walla Walla, Richland, Montesano and Richland again, in order to face Lakeside Gray from the Issaquah area in the title game.

Lakeside was not unfamiliar to Woodinville, having beaten them four of five times during the summer season, in effect, their nemesis.

The finale, predetermined to go nine innings by the powers that be, proved fortuitous for Woodinville.

Down 7-5 entering the eighth with one out, Harrison Van Till singled and so did Nate Wilham. Matt Laitala then launched a three-run bomb, dead to left, to go up 8-7.

Caleb Hamilton then hammered another homer to make it 9-7.

Max Carter, on the hill in relief of Jake Segesser, who relieved starter Hamilton, nailed down the victory facing the 3-4-5 batters: ground ball to third, fly ball to right, and a backwards K to end it and start the party.

"Yeah, caught him looking with a fastball," Carter said. "Threw my glove in the air and jumped on some guys. Probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball. Pretty cool."

After being on the "brink of extinction," Carter said, the boys were relaxed and played loose, with nothing to lose.

"We knew we were a better team than we showed that day at districts.

We knew we were more competitive than that and you could sense we were gonna go on a run in Spokane."

And that they did, led by the white-hot bat of Laitala, who went 14-for-25 at the plate in the tourney with six doubles, two homers and 10 RBI — including the "big shot, a no-doubter" as Dillman put it, with the money on the table.

"Kinda hard to believe that he got better, after hitting .500 during the season ... he got even hotter ... He was just so confident at the plate, and his teammates were so confident in him. We knew when he came up in that situation he was gonna hit a gapper at least ... and then he hit it out."

Tommy Wick also went yard in the finale — the first time all season Woodinville hit three long balls in a game.

"That was huge," Dillman said. "We were down 4-0 in the second inning, Caleb was struggling with a tight zone, and Tommy’s homer made it 4-2 to get us back in the game and gave us a lift."

Hamilton went 11-for-22 in the tourney with 13 runs scored, 10 RBI and five stolen bases. Wick went 7-for-20 with 10 RBI.

But you don’t win tournaments without good pitching.

"Eric Anthony was huge," Dillman said. "He wasn’t there for districts but gave us depth on the mound ... and Jake did a great job — he ate a lot of innings all year long and we knew we could count on him."

Dillman’s overall impressions on the season, ending with a 33-6 record: "This team was a lot of fun. They competed really hard, got along well and there were no issues ... Different guys kept coming up big day after day."

Woodinville ‘A” team wins state championship

  • Written by Don Mann
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Photo courtesy of Bruce Ching Chris Root receives a pickoff throw against Oak Harbor.
Talk about getting hot at the right time.

The 16-and-under Woodinville American Legion "A" baseball team, 17-21 in the regular season, went 3-1 to capture district and got hotter at state, going 4-1 overall culminating in a decisive 5-1 victory over Snohomish in the title game to bring home the whole enchilada in a most remarkable — if not improbable — run.

Snohomish had tripped up Woodinville the day before, 10-2, after the Falcons foiled Cheney, Moses Lake and Oak Harbor in order.

In the title game pitcher Spencer Jones was a difference maker, going the distance in a 4-hitter, striking out six, walking two, and the run allowed was unearned.

It was his second complete game victory of the tourney, having fired a 3-hitter in the opener against Cheney, striking out 14 and walking one. Jones also made a solid contribution at the plate, batting .461 overall with five RBI. For his efforts he was named the state tournament’s most valuable player, but he was not alone.

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Photo courtesy of Bruce Ching Lucas Ching is out at home, but Woodinville would win in the finale against Snohomish.
Nick Taylor batted .588 in five games, going 10-for-17 with eight runs scored and Charles Mehrmann went 7-for-15.

Woodinville coach Aaron Tennis was asked when he had an inkling his team could possibly win this thing.

"I thought we had a chance after we won our second game," he said. "We were down 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh with two out and no one on base. Brennan Kelso had an 0-2 count and worked a walk. Michael Boyd then hit an 0-2 double to tie the game. Chris Okura then hit a fly ball down the right field line that the Moses Lake kid lost in the sun and we won it. At that point we were assured a top-four finish."

Better lucky than good, as they say, but luck turned to skill the next day.

Down 2-zip in the sixth to Oak Harbor, Woodinville rallied for seven runs to win 7-2 and remain in the winner’s bracket as Okura went a solid 5.2 innings on the bump, relieved by Jones who was perfect for the final 1.1.

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Photo courtesy of Bruce Ching State champions, top row, left to right: coach John Schmidt, coach Jay Stookey, Ben Schetterer, Michael Hatlen, Chris Root, Derek Svanevik, Spencer Jones, Ian Biddle, Coach Aaron Tennis. Bottom row: Brennan Kelso, Michael Boyd, Charles Mehrmann, Luke Ching, Nick Taylor, Chris Okura. Not pictured: Jacob Yee.
After the hiccup to Snohomish on Tuesday, Woodinville shut the door on Wednesday.

Tennis made particular mention of the stellar defensive play of Michael Boyd at third base, which supported Woodinville pitchers in tough situations throughout the tourney.

"It was a pleasure to coach such great kids and they bought into the fact that they could win if they worked hard, stayed focused and competed for seven innings every game," Tennis said. "It was an experience I’m sure none of us will ever forget."

Legion ‘A’ team takes district title

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Legion

Despite a 17-21-1 regular season record, the Woodinville American Legion "A" team (16-and-under) got hot and went 3-1 in the district tournament, including an 8-1 romp over Inglemoor- based FM Sports in the title game to capture the Area 1 South Division championship at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue. Lucas Ching went the distance for the win and Spencer Jones was named the tournament’s MVP.

The boys moved on to the state tourney, which began this weekend in Lacey, Wa. Pictured, top, left to right: Coach Aaron Tennis, Brennan Kelso, Chris Okura, Ben Schetterer, Derek Svanevik, Michael Hatlen, Spencer Jones, Chris Root, Coach Jay Stookey, Coach John Schmidt. Bottom: Michael Boyd, Charles Mehrmann, Lucas Ching, Nick Taylor, Jacob Yee and Ian Biddle.

All stars win state tourney

  • Written by Andrew Kelly, senior in broadcast news at Washington State University
Junior_all_star_champs_clearerDistrict 8 Juniors Softball all-star team from the Northshore, North Bothell and Woodinville little leagues won the state tournament by defeating District 6 from La Center Little League by a score of 7-5 in nine innings. The game was close throughout. The teams were tied at two until Northshore scored three times in the top of the seventh inning to take a 5-2 lead. In the bottom of the seventh La Center rallied for three runs tying the game at five and forcing extra innings. In the top of the eighth inning the Northshore hitters were retired in order. In the bottom of the eighth Northshore relief pitcher Ema Bittle got two quick outs before loading the bases. With the bases full and facing a full count, Bittle induced a pop up to the third baseman, Makela Cummings to end the inning. In the ninth, the Northshore bats came alive and pushed across two more runs. Again Northshore had a lead, only three outs away from a championship.

This time they did not let the opportunity pass. Bittle breezed through the bottom half of the La Center batting order, striking out a batter, only allowing a walk and an infield single.

Janell Martin started the game for Northshore and threw seven innings while allowing five runs, three earned.

The win sends the Northshore girls to the Little League West Region Tournament, August 3-10 in Marana, Ariz. Their progress can be followed on the Little League West Region website.

Woodinville ‘AA’ team falls short

  • Written by Don Mann
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Caleb Hamilton threw a five-inning shutout over Liberty in the opening game of the tourney, striking out eight. Photo by Don Mann.
Things did not go as expected for Woodinville’s "AA" American Legion team.

The 17-and-under summer squad, 27-6 coming into the district tournament with an explosive offense filled with young, aggressive hitters and base stealers, lost two games in a row on a wacky, weird Wednesday at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue to put the bats and balls away for the season.

Woodinville scorched the Liberty Cannons in the Tuesday opener 10-zip in five innings behind a strong pitching performance by Caleb Hamilton and 13 hits — line drive after line drive.

But Wednesday was a different day. Facing Lakeside Gray, which had beaten Woodinville three of four during the season, the Falcons fell 4-3 in eight innings.

Falcon starter Jake Segesser went 5.2 innings strong, and was relieved by Max Carter who pitched through the seventh to forge a 3-3 tie.

Woodinville, visitors on the scoreboard as the No. 2 seed versus the No. 1, would not score in the top half of the eighth. In the bottom half, two out and none aboard with the No. 9 hitter at the plate, Lakeside produced a single, a base on balls and another single for the gamer.

In the double-elimination tourney the Falcons turned right around to face Liberty again — whom they had beaten in five straight contests.

The Falcons put three runs on the board in their first at-bat, but the Cannons responded with three of their own to tie it up.

Carter relieved makeshift starter Matthew Spencer — normally the second baseman — after 2.2 innings and things did not go well from there:

Liberty scored four runs in the fifth to make it 7-3, Carter was relieved in the sixth and three more runs were tacked on.

Woodinville’s offense threatened but could not overcome the extended lead.

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Tommy Wick scores on a base hit by Matthew Spencer. Photo by Don Mann.
Coach Alan Dillman said the kids were obviously disappointed.

"They were bummed," he said. "You beat a team five times in a row and then you get beat in the game you need the most. For the kids and coaches it was a tough deal, but baseball is a humbling game."

Despite the loss, Dillman spoke about a nice group of young talented kids and said it was a positive summer experience.

"We didn’t make it to state but it was a really good year and a whole lotta kids got better."