South Whidbey sluggers advance to state Little League tournament

South Whidbey’s Brighton Schott pitches against South Skagit on July 7 in the late innings of the Little League District 11 championship game.   - Matt Simms photo
South Whidbey’s Brighton Schott pitches against South Skagit on July 7 in the late innings of the Little League District 11 championship game.
— image credit: Matt Simms photo

Three outs and four runs separated South Whidbey and South Skagit in the Little League District 11 championship game.

South Whidbey won 13-9 Saturday at South Whidbey Community Park. The 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars punched their ticket to the Washington Little League tournament.

“We just felt it was a sense of relief to get this one done and over with and not have to worry about playing Sunday,” said South Whidbey team manager Chris Schott.

“Going to state is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and they might not get it again.”

South Whidbey led by double digits early in the district title game. By the first inning, South Whidbey had a 4-0 lead. A couple of innings later, and it was 9-0. At the end of the fourth, the South End sluggers led 11-1. Six of South Whidbey’s players finished with multiple hits, including first baseman Carson Filla who was 2-for-4 and catcher Keenan Schott who was 3-for-4.

Thanks to a nearly full pitching rotation, though without Drew Fry, South Whidbey controlled the first few innings. Aidyn Frederick threw five strikeouts, allowed one walk and four errors through three and two-thirds innings. Ethan Petty pitched one inning and fanned two Skagit batters, gave up a walk and one run on an error. Brighton Schott completed an inning on the mound as well, striking out one, walking one with two errors.

Then Skagit crept back a few runs at a time. In the fourth and fifth innings, Skagit had knocked in eight scores until it threatened at 11-9 going into the final inning.

“This made it exciting and raised tension as we went into sixth,” said Chris Schott. “But adding two insurance runs in the top of the sixth gave us a little breathing room knowing that we were going to face their 6, 7, 8 hole hitters in the bottom of the sixth.”

Keenan rapped a lead-off single in the top of the sixth to start a short rally. South Whidbey added two runs for a 13-9 advantage. Still, Skagit had its chances to at least tie the game and force a second match and was familiar with the most unlikely of rallies. Earlier in the tournament, Skagit narrowly edged North Whidbey 4-3 on Friday, a day after rallying from a 10-run deficit to beat Anacortes 13-12.

As he had during the All-Star run, outfielder and pitcher Nick Young showed his maturity. Nick secured the South End sluggers’ victory with three strikeouts, and closed the game with only one walk, one fielder’s choice and no runs scored.

South Whidbey heads to Auburn on Friday, and the state tournament starts at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 14 against the Mill Creek All-Stars from District 1.

South Whidbey was the only undefeated squad in the District 11 All-Star tournament for 9- and 10-year-olds.

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