Junior baseball regional: Central Whidbey nipped in finale

It was a tough loss to end a tough tournament.

Central Whidbey's Junior Little League baseball team closed out the regional tournament in Laguna Niguel, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 7, with a 3-2 loss to the host team from Aliso Viejo, Calif.

Down 2-1 and with two outs in the top of the seventh, Central Whidbey's Jake Tumblin ripped a sharp single that scored Wade Schaef (who reached by being hit by a pitch) to tie the score and keep the local team's season alive.

Aliso Viejo, however, responded with its own magic in the bottom half of the inning to pull out the win. With two outs and no one on, a misplayed ball in the outfield followed by a bloop single to right enabled Aliso Viejo to pull out the win.

Pitcher Korbin Korzan played a big role in keeping Central Whidbey in the game. His double in the second inning, which plated pinch runner Kurtis Smith (taking over for Aaron Curtin who had walked), gave Central Whidbey a 1-0 lead.

On the mound, Korzan limited the high-scoring Aliso Viejo offense to just two runs (one earned) heading into the seventh. Both runs came in the fifth.

With one out in the seventh he was forced to exit because he reached 95 pitches, the limit allowed by Little League. Aaron Trumbull took over and recorded a strikeout before the miscue and bloop hit ended the game.

Heading into the game, there was no indication that Central Whidbey would battle Aliso Viejo to the last out.

CW dropped the first four games of pool play, and the closest was 10-1. Aliso Viejo finished 4-1 in pool play and its only loss was 1-0 to Rocklin, Calif., a team that thumped Central Whidbey 22-1.

Central Whidbey played better as the tournament progressed, according to coach Chris Tumblin. He said, "Had it (the tournament) gone on longer, we would have done much better."

Sloppy defense sunk Central Whidbey in its first two games. The third game was a turning point, according to Tumblin. He said even though Central Whidbey lost big in that game, the defense made no errors and his players started to get their confidence back after early tournament jitters.

Tumblin said, "The last game's defense was phenomenal. Wade (catcher Shaef) and Ben (shortstop Etzell) were the defensive standouts." He also lauded an unassisted double play turned in by first baseman Trumbull that snuffed an Aliso Viejo scoring opportunity.

In spite of Central Whidbey's 0-5 record at the regional tournament, Tumblin said Coupeville's representation was a "huge landmark." Central Whidbey was the first team from District 11 (Skagit and Island counties) to win the state championship and earn a regional berth.

Tumblin also said that the regional administrators praised the effort, character and attitude of the Central Whidbey delegation.

The tournament also marked the end of Tumblin's coaching career. He has coached youth baseball for nine years as his son, Jake, came up through the ranks. Now, as Jake enters high-school ball, Chris is "excited to just watch."

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