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"SK team coasts to state crown, regionals next"
"No one can accuse the South Kitsap Babe Ruth baseball team of not playing enough games to reach a peak performance.After playing just 13 games, the team of 13-year-olds won the Northern Washington State Tournament title at Bainbridge High School and now must travel to Helena, Mont., for the regional tournament, which starts Aug. 2.SK stormed through the double-elimination state tournament without a loss heading into the championship game against Wenatchee Monday morning.Wenatchee, which lost to SK 5-1 in the semifinals, would have needed to beat SK twice to win the title, but SK made sure that wouldn't happen by busting out to 12-0 lead after three innings and eventually earning an 18-3 victory.SK pounded 13 hits and Justin Bowser pitched 4 2/3 innings to get the win.Jonathan Rowan registered the final four outs before the 10-run rule ended the contest in the fifth inning.SK manager, Steve Bates, said all his players have been swinging hot bats lately.We've scored, I think, 160 runs in 13 games we've played so far with this team I've had since the Memorial Day tournament, Bates said. I think we just flat out started hitting (this tournament).Bury them is more like what SK did to Wenatchee the second time around.Doug Franz blasted a two-run double and added a run-scoring single.Jeff Coulon knocked in four runs with a triple and two singles.Tyler Penn added three RBI on a double and single.The lopsided championship game didn't reflect the tight games SK played to get to the title game.After defeating North Kitsap 9-4 and Othello 16-6 July 20, SK survived a close contest with a tough Bainbridge team.Down two runs in the fourth, SK battled back to tie it with a run in the fourth inning and another run in the sixth.In the top of the seventh (and final inning), SK scored four runs sparked by back-to-back doubles from Jeremy Ellison and Penn.Bainbridge scored two runs in the bottom of the inning but Bowser came on in relief to get the save.Against Bainbridge I think the kids were just kind of tight, Bates said. Against Wenatchee (in the first game) we started out 3-0 just like today, but we just played flat. But this game I told them 'none of that here...let's bury them.' Despite a flat performance against Wenatchee in the semifinal game, a big offensive output wasn't necessary because of Coulon.Bates admitted it was a game-time decision to start Coulon instead of put him in as a reliever.The decision paid off as Coulon pitched a no-hitter, giving up just one walk.The pitching depth and offense had allowed Bates to smile more than usual.I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have these guys, he said. They make my job easier.Franz said he thinks this team should be able to continue to swing the bat well at regionals.We hit tough this whole tournament, Franz said. If we continue doing this at regionals we might have a real good chance.Franz also likes his team's chances because of the pitching depth.We had more pitchers than any team in the (state) tournament, he said. More than half the team can pitch."