Little League All Stars hit rough road

The South Whidbey Boys 9- and 10-year-old All Stars lost two heartbreakers in their run at the state title last weekend.

The team, which swept the District 11 tournament the week before to qualify for state, were shut down in their first game Saturday against Mill Creek, 18-0, then defeated on Sunday in a one-run loss to Richland, 5-4.

"This was a very young tournament team," said coach Mark Hanna after Sunday's game. "Only two of these kids have played at this level before. Next year the team will know where the bar is, and what mistakes not to make in games like this.

"I am so proud of these kids, especially for coming back after that crushing 18-0 defeat Saturday and almost beating the Richland team the next day."

In Sunday's game, behind T.J. Fallon's power pitching, South Whidbey was ahead by two runs going into the bottom of the sixth inning and needed only to hold Richland for the win.

But the Richland team scored one more run with two outs, making the score 4-3. South Whidbey closer Andy Groves threw two strikes, but the batter hit the third pitch, sending a high fly ball over first base.

"In classic Little League blooper tradition, the first baseman and the left fielder both went for the ball, neither calling it and running into each other, missing the catch. The winning run came in," Hanna said.

Other plays were missed throughout the game that could have given Whidbey a greater edge going into the last inning, Hanna said, but the final error sealed the team's fate.

"I think our island boys did a great job," Hanna said. "In the last game we were ahead until the final inning, but at all times our kids showed good sportsmanship, which is the first and most important lesson in baseball. They also were scrappers, never giving up. It was an honor and a privilege to coach them."

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