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North Whidbey qualifies for state tournament | 9/10 baseball
The North Whidbey Little League 9/10 baseball team became one of the rare local clubs to qualify for the state tournament when it defeated Central Whidbey 10-9 Thursday, July 3, in the District 11 championship game in Sedro-Woolley.
North Whidbey now moves on to the state tournament at Badger Mountain Park in Richland. It will face the District 1 champion at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 12. District 1 includes all leagues from Stanwood south to Lynnwood.
The 12-team, double-elimination state tournament runs through Sunday, July 20.
All four wins for North Whidbey in the district tournament were by one run, including edging Central Whidbey by an identical 10-9 score earlier in tournament.
In the championship game, coach Mark Tanner's Cardiac Kids took a different route on the way to a thrilling finish.
After late-inning rallies lifted North Whidbey to wins in the first three games, North Whidbey withstood a furious Central Whidbey comeback to secure the title.
North Whidbey raced to an 8-2 lead after two innings and then Central Whidbey began to chip away.
Central Whidbey scored four runs in the third inning to trim the lead to 8-6.
In the fourth, Central Whidbey loaded the bases but didn't score. A grab by North Whidbey center fielder Joe Winnenberg with two outs thwarted the threat.
North Whidbey tacked on two runs in the fifth behind a double by Winnenberg, making it 10-6, and then held on as Central Whidbey mounted one last rally.
With one out, Central Whidbey loaded the bases with the help of base hits by Drake Borden and Luke Vrable and pushed across three runs.
Jordan Ronning, who faced a similar situation in the first game with Central Whidbey, took over on the mound for North Whidbey and recorded the final two outs to lock up the championship.
Cody Byars led the North Whidbey offense with two hits and two walks.
Cody Duchnowski and Jackson Briggs preceded Ronning on the mound.
Head coach Tanner is assisted by Mike Benjamin and Casey Richardson.