Babe Ruth team takes third at regionals
June 12, 2008 · Updated 1:58 PM
"The journey for South Kitsap's Babe Ruth baseball team came to a rousing conclusion at regionals in Helena, Mont. Aug. 6.The team of 13-year-olds battled big city teams from Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, British Columbia, and came away with a third-place finish.Nobody knew who Port Orchard was, manager Steve Bates said. They (other teams) came from big cities. I picked my all-star team from 35 kids but a team like Beaverton picked out of 100 to 200 kids and we took it to them.After defeating the Idaho and Southern Oregon state champions, that left only three undefeated teams: Northern Oregon (Beaverton), Southern Washington (Vancouver), and South Kitsap.SK met up Beaverton and fell behind early.A late effort fell short as Vancouver won 15-8 to send SK to the loser's bracket.Despite out-hitting Beaverton, SK committed five errors.We showed we were the best hitting team in the tournament, Bates said.We just couldn't catch them. We played our worst game of the year.Down but not out, SK had an intra-state rivalry game against Vancouver.Bates said this was the best youth baseball game he had ever seen.After SK had jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, Vancouver came back to tie it in the second inning.Vancouver continued to threaten with two runners on base but with two outs.A Vancouver batter looked like he was about to bring in two more runs but out of nowhere a diving Grant Sampson in centerfield caught the ball to end the inning but also his season.In the process of the catch Sampson broke his collarbone.That was one of the best catches I've seen, Bates said. Vancouver scored five runs in the fourth inning and the kids seemed to get down after that.But Matt Greenfield came in relief in the fourth inning and started to mow them down.SK proceeded to chip away, getting two back in the bottom of the fourth inning, one in the fifth, and two in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings.SK had its chance to win in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and only one out. But a pair of groundouts allowed Vancouver to stay alive and come back in the ninth inning to score a run for a 9-8 lead. SK couldn't counter and its season came to an end. But Bates said he was pleased with his team's performance and its refusal give up.The kids just battled so hard, Bates said. They never let up. It was a lot of fun and a real good experience for the kids. "