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North Whidbey All-Stars take district title
"North Whidbey Little League's nine and 10 year-old All-Stars came alive in the District All-Star Tournament Championship to win 14-10 over the South Skagit All-Stars at Bakerview Field in Mount Vernon. Coaches Steve Bell, David Lura and manager John Encinas are now preparing the team for the State All-Star Tournament on Saturday in Issaquah. It's been many years that any team from this age group of (Oak Harbor) baseball players has qualified for a State Tournament berth, Coach David Lura said.The team started off the tournament July 8 with a 9-5 victory over South Skagit's National All-Star team. Eric McCardle led the offensive charge by hitting three singles and scoring two runs. David Encinas, Johnny Encinas and Josh Eacrett all hit for extra bases, and eight different players scored at least once. Pitcher Aaron Bell started the game and struck out five batters, walked four and allowed three runs to score. He worked with Brendan Kays, Chris Vallery and Jordan Young to throw a two-hitter.North Whidbey came from behind the following day to win 10-9 over the Anacortes All-Stars in a tension-filled game two of the tournament. Anacortes broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the second by snagging a run off a walk and a couple of base hits. Both teams scored three runs in the third inning and left the bases loaded. At the end of the fifth inning Anacortes led 7-3, but that's when North Whidbey kicked their offense into high gear. Seven batters reached home on a double, four singles, a walk and a fielder's choice. In the bottom of the sixth, Anacortes scored two more runs on North Whidbey errors, but they couldn't pull off the win. In game three, the North Whidbey All-Stars destroyed Central Whidbey 8-0. Eric McCardle shut out the fellow Whidbey team by allowing only two hits and giving up one walk. North Whidbey continued its balanced offensive attack when nine different batters swung for base hits and six players scored at least once. South Skagit's American All-Star team felt North Whidbey's strikeout prowess in game four on Thursday when North Whidbey racked up another blowout win 13-3. Aaron Bell started at pitcher and struck out four, and Brendan Kays relieved him in the fourth to strike out three of his own. Kays gave up a run in the fifth inning but struck out the final two batters and left the bases loaded. After North Whidbey scored seven runs in the top of sixth, Kays once again pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out three South Skagit batters and totaling eight strike outs in the game. At this point, North Whidbey had outscored their opponents 19-2 in the all-important sixth inning.In a game-five rematch on Saturday, the South Skagit Americans ended North Whidbey's four-game winning streak. The team hit the ball well but usually right at somebody, Coach Lura said. North Whidbey led 2-0 until the bottom of the fifth when South Skagit batted around to score four runs on four walks and two base hits. It looked like North Whidbey could make another sixth-inning comeback when Johnny Encinas hit a two-out single and Chris Vallery and Eric McCardle both walked to load the bases, but Aaron Bell hit a ground ball right to the third basemen who stepped on the bag for the game-ending out.Both the North Whidbey All-Stars and South Skagit American All-Stars came into the double-elimination tournament championship game Sunday with one loss to each other. In the end, North Whidbey's balanced attack overpowered the South Skagit team in a thrilling 14-10 victory. Eight different runners scored at least once on 17 hits by 10 different batters and only two walks. Daniel Lura stepped up with four hits and was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. North Whidbey didn't match South Skagit's 2-0 lead until the top of the third inning when Chris Vallery tripled in Jordan Young, who reached on a walk, and then Eric McCardle tripled in Vallery. South Skagit returned the favor by scoring five more runs in the bottom of the inning on a walk, two singles and three bunts. In the fourth, North Whidbey scored two more runs when Daniel Lura tripled in Brendan Kays and then scored on a single by Josh Eacrett. South Skagit couldn't cross the plate in the fourth, but they led 7-4.North Whidbey scored five runs in the fifth on a walk, four singles and a double and took a 9-7 lead. North Whidbey errors allowed South Skagit to take a 10-9 lead with three runs on two walks and no hits.In the crucial sixth inning, North Whidbey staged another late-inning comeback. Aaron Bell led off with a single. Andrew Bighouse bunted to get on and Daniel Lura singled in Bell for the tieing run. They tacked on four more runs, and Jordan Young came into strike out two South Skagit batters and finish the game. "