KENT LITTLE LEAGUE: 10-11 stars bring home state title - SLIDE SHOW

  • BY Wire Service
  • Friday, July 31, 2009 6:49pm
  • NewsSports
The Kent Little League 10 and 11-year-old All-Star team had reason to celebrate on Monday night after knocking off Greater Richland

The Kent Little League 10 and 11-year-old All-Star team had reason to celebrate on Monday night after knocking off Greater Richland

Austin Taylor felt the pressure on Monday night at Windjammer Park in Oak Harbor.

Two outs, bases loaded and a chance to win a Little League state championship on the line.

As if ice water was coursing through his veins, Taylor then delivered, lacing a sharp single to left-center, scoring teammate Cory Wabinga from third base and lifting the Kent Little League 10 and 11-year-old All-Star team past Greater Richland 6-5 for the state crown.

Though he came through, Taylor admitted feeling butterflies in the pit of his stomach during the at-bat.

“I was like, ‘Man, I got to get a hit. If I get a hit, we win the state championship,” he said. “It was pretty nerve wracking.”

Those nerves, however, were quickly replaced with an on-field celebration with Taylor at the middle.

“When I got to first base, my base coach started running at me,” Taylor continued. “He tackled me to the ground.”

Taylor’s run-scoring single capped a perfect state tournament for the Kent boys. A tournament in which every player throughout the roster contributed in one way or another.

The tournament began with a bang for Kent as Brakken Newcomb hit a lead off home run, setting the tone for the team’s 9-1 opening win over Salmon Lake. Kent’s offense then took charge in its second, third and fourth games in wins over Greater Richland (15-14), Capital (18-0) and Walla Walla (19-3).

Then, of course, there was the big finale — a game-winning pig pile on Taylor.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Kent coach Scott McGuire. “I like to see kids be kids, go out and have a pig pile. It’s a lot of work. You start in February when they’re putting everything together. They all do the hitting camps and everything … it builds up and it’s a long road, but it’s a lot of fun, too.”

Fun began immediately for Kent in the championship game against Greater Richland. Kent opened the first inning with a four-run rally. Brakken Newcomb began the rally with a single, followed by consecutive walks to Shane McGuire, Daniel Tanaka and Jacob Rohweder, giving Kent a 1-0 lead. Isaac Hegamin then singled home McGuire for a 2-0 lead. Tanaka and Rohweder came home moments later on an error, pushing Kent’s early lead to 4-0.

Greater Richland, however, didn’t go away, plating three runs in the third and another in the fourth, tying the game 4-4.

Cory Wabinga then delivered big for Kent in the bottom half of the fourth inning, blasting a solo home run to center field, giving the local stars a 5-4 lead.

“When I hit the home run, I knew it was gone right off the bat because he threw it right down the middle,” Wabinga said. “I didn’t feel anything.”

Greater Richland responded with one more run in the fifth inning, tying the game 5-5. Greater Richland, however, could have scored more had Kent left fielder Garrett Stewart not saved the day with a diving grab of a sinking liner with two runners on base.

“That saved two runs,” McGuire said.

And set the stage for Taylor, who had been platooning with Stewart in left field the entire tournament.

“Coach told me (after Stewart’s catch) that I was going to get a hit with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning to win the game,” Taylor said.

Yet, Taylor was the sixth batter of the inning.

After an out, Wabinga got things going for Kent, lining a double off the center-field wall. Newcomb then was intentionally walked, putting runners on first and second with one out. Jordan Jones followed with a single to load the bases. Two batters later, after the second out had been recorded, Taylor delivered his game-winning, state-clinching single.

“It was awesome. It was just so much fun,” Taylor said.

The run-scoring single helped Jones pick up the win on the mound. It also capped a magical ride for the Kent team. A ride that included 17 home runs during the team’s 10-game run. Newcomb led the way, clubbing five home runs, two during the state tournament. Jones added four, all of which came at state, followed by Wabinga (3), Stewart (2), Rohweder (1), Taylor (1) and Hegamin (1).

“I knew we had a chance (to win it),” McGuire said. “Even though we took second last year (at district), we knew what the state had to offer. We knew we had a shot.”

KENT 10-11 ROUNDUP

• Kent 9, Salmon Creek 1, Game 1: Kent bolted out of the gate, getting a leadoff home run from Brakken Newcomb that highlighted a four-run first inning. Jacob Rohweder, Jordan Jones, Matthew Mollenberg, Daniel Tanaka, Shane McGuire and Garrett Stewart all had singles in the big first inning. Jones allowed just two hits and struck out nine to pick up the win.

• Kent 15, Greater Richland 14, Game 2: Kent’s offense came up big when it needed it most. Richland took a 3-0 lead through two innings before Kent struck for one run in the third inning on hits from Brakken Newcomb, Cory Wabinga and Jordan Jones. Matthew Mollenberg walked to score Newcomb, Kent’s lone run of the inning. Kent then erupted four 10 runs in the fourth inning, getting two hits apiece from Shane McGuire and Austin Taylor in the frame. Also delivering big hits during the 10-run rally were Isaac Hegamin and Wabinga. Kent pushed its lead to 15-6 in the fifth inning, keyed by a single from Daniel Tanaka. Richland rallied for an eight-run fifth inning, but was shut down in the final frame with a perfect inning on the mound by Taylor.

• Kent 18, Capital 0, Game 3: Kent put it all together in its win over Capital, pounding out five home runs while ace Jordan Jones delivered a gem on the mound. Jones needed just 59 pitches to go the distance. He allowed just three hits, walked one and struck out five in the win. If that wasn’t enough, Jones also belted a pair of home runs. Jones, however, was hardly Kent’s lone star of the win. Brakken Newcomb hit a grand slam and scored a team-high five runs. Also homering for Kent were: Austin Taylor and Jacob Rohweder. Kent pounded out 21 hits in the win.

• Kent 19, Walla 3, Game 4: Kent’s offense continued to impress as it connected for four more home runs. Jordan Jones led the long-ball barrage with two more home runs while Isaac Hegamin and Garrett Stewart added one apiece. Brakken Newcomb collected three hits, including a pair of doubles. Derek Welch picked up the win on the mound, allowing just five hits and striking out 11 in five innings of work. Welch also went 3-for-3 at the plate.

MEET THE CHAMPIONS:MEET THE CHAMPIONS

The Kent Little League 10 and 11-year-old All-Star team consists of coaches Scott McGuire and Curt McGuire. The roster includes Isaac Hegamin, Jordan Jones, Shane McGuire, Matthew Mollenberg, Brakken Newcomb, Jacob Rohweder, Garrett Stewart, Daniel Tanaka, Austin Taylor, Cory Wabinga and Derek Welch.




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