Sports

The big sweep

In an unprecedented week of Little League baseball, three South Whidbey 12-and-under teams swept the top-three placings in their Island and Skagit County district.

Winning tournaments in Oak Harbor, Sedro-Woolley and Mount Vernon over the weekend were the South Whidbey Braves, Red Sox and Yankees, each in uniquely impressive fashion.

Going to the most prestigious of the championships were the Braves, who won the three-team South Whidbey Majors championship over the Braves in the final game of the regular season. With that championship, they earned the opportunity to play all the other first-place teams from Central Whidbey, North Whidbey, Anacortes, Burlington and Skagit County in a tournament of champions held in Oak Harbor.

Relying heavily on near-perfect pitching by starters Robert Kirby and TJ Fallon, the Braves finessed their way to 3-0 wins over Sedro-Woolley and South Skagit in the first two rounds of the tournament, won a semi final game against Oak Harbor 3-2, then put Oak Harbor down again in Saturday’s championship 5-1.

For the Red Sox, the road to victory was far longer. Losing a second-round game in the district second-place tournament in Mount Vernon, the Sox dropped into the losers bracket and had to play 10 games before they earned a Saturday championship showdown against Coupeville.

The South Whidbey Sox went into the game primed for a close one. On Friday night, the Sox beat Oak Harbor in the final inning. After coming back from being down 6-0, the won the game 8-6.

Against Coupeville — a team against which South Whidbey had a 1-1-1 record this season — the Sox played to a tie in the final inning before Andrew Groves hammered home a single RBI on a double to win the game.

Team manager Eileen Cronin credited her team’s pitching staff with pulling the team through the tournament. Pitchers Riley Newman, Andrew Groves, Travis Todd, Craig Hawkinson, Ben Roth and Jacob Olmstead proved to be the most talented and deepest staff at the tournament, thanks to an aggressive pitching rotation during the regular season.

For the Yankees, victory in a third-place district tournament in Sedro-Woolley came in five wins and no losses.

Behind the pitching of Hunter Rawls and Dakota Hanna, the Yankees crushed the opposition on a total run count of 55-4. The team’s closest game came in the second round, a 4-0 victory over the Oak Harbor Pirates in which Rawls smacked a three-run homer.

The Yankees won their championship game in crushing fashion, downing Burlington 20-2. Yankees coach Mark Hanna said clutch hitting from Blake Koszarek, Zeke Spalding and Khori Bjork fueled his team’s offense.

With the tournament victories, Hanna — a 14-year South Whidbey Little League coach — said 2004 marks a watershed year for South Whidbey Little League.

“I’ve never seen this,” he said.

The South Whidbey Majors teams will now make their selections for the upcoming all-stars tournament.

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