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Champions: Central Whidbey wins Junior Little League baseball title
They had to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh to keep the game alive, then play until the 10th inning, but the Central Whidbey Junior (13-14) Little League baseball team eventually pulled out a 10-9 win over West Valley to earn the state championship at Medical Lake High School last Saturday, July 24.
When Central Whidbey scored in the bottom of the 10th, it was the only time it led in the game, but it was enough to lift the club to the crown and a berth in the regional tournament in Laguna Niguel, Calif., Aug. 3 through 10.
Central Whidbey defeated Richmond Thursday in the semifinals and was last undefeated team in the tournament. West Valley then topped Richmond in the consolation finals to earn a shot at CW.
Since West Valley lost earlier in the tournament, it had to defeat Central Whidbey twice Saturday to secure the title. It accomplished the first step when it nipped Central Whidbey 4-3 in the first game and forced a second matchup.
That first contest, Central Whidbey coach Chris Tumblin said, “Was a tough game to lose.”
West Valley scored the eventual winning run on a balk in the top of the seventh inning. That put West Valley up 4-2. Central Whidbey rallied for one run in the bottom of the seventh when Brian Norris doubled and scored, but the tying run was left stranded when the game ended.
After the loss, Tumblin said the club was upset with the game and at each other. He took the team back to the hotel and he left the players alone in a conference room to figure out what their goals were. He said the players bonded and came out “smiling and having fun.”
However, the beginning of the championship game was anything but fun as West Valley jumped to a 5-0 lead after two innings.
Central Whidbey scored three in the third, then West Valley upped its lead to 7-3 after four.
It was 7-5 after five and 9-6 heading into the seventh.
After CW shut out West Valley in the top of the inning, it pushed across the necessary three runs – rallying late as it has in several close games the past few weeks – to send the game to extra innings.
Central Whidbey blended hits by Aaron Trumbull, Wade Schaef and Morgan Payne with an error and several passed balls to produce its three-run seventh.
Tumblin then turned to Kurtis Smith to take over on the mound. Smith, who followed two hard-throwers for Central Whidbey, stymied West Valley with off speed pitches that limited the losers to just one hit over the final three innings and gave his offense a chance to pull out the win.
After one out in the bottom of the tenth, Smith doubled, Jake Tumblin walked, then Ben Etzell reached on a fielder’s choice.
Tumblin, attempting to steal third, was caught in a rundown, but escaped the pickle and was safe at third while Etzell moved to second.
Trumbull hit a ball in the six-hole for an infield single that scored Tumblin and wrapped up the historical win. Central Whidbey’s state title was the first by a team coming out of District 11 (Skagit and Island counties), according to coach Tumblin.
Smith finished the game with a single and double. Payne, Aaron Curtin, Schaef and Trumbull each had two singles.
Coach Tumblin said, “We are heading to California. I don’t know how we are going to afford it, but we’ll be there.”
Those wishing to offer financial assistance for the trip can visit the Central Whidbey Little League website at ahttp://www.centralwhidbeylittleleague.org and click on “donations” or send checks to P.O. Box 222, Coupeville, WA 98239.