Uptown Autobody wins USSSA state championship

Gunning for a state title is always a nice goal to achieve.

But when a title game hinges on whether a team earns an invitation to the Continental Amateur Baseball Association (CABA) World Series, the game takes on a whole new meaning.

Uptown Autobody, a 16U baseball team made up mostly of South Kitsap High School sophomores, defeated Eastside Harley of Bellevue 5-3 in the USSSA Major state championship game nearly two weeks ago.

The win earned Uptown an invitation to CABA, which is the gran-daddy tournament of them all, according to coach Lenie Hamm.

It will run July 19-29 in Marietta, Georgia.

CABA is a 32-team tournament that includes the best teams from throughout the world.

Uptown’s win against Eastside qualified them for the USSSA Major national tournament in Florida, but Hamm said there is no way the team would turn down one of the state’s two invitations to CABA.

Calling CABA the toughest world tournament, Hamm said he has no idea how his team will do because the competition will be unlike anything the players have faced.

Hamm said the team could do well because of his team’s depth of pitching.

“I’m really deep in pitching this year,” Hamm said. “I’ve easily got nine throwers. Six of them would be number ones on any other team.”

While the pitching is deep, Hamm said he’s loaded with hitting—which bodes well for the South Kitsap High School baseball program.

“This is pretty much a feeder into the high school program,” Hamm said. “SK will be very strong for the next couple years.”

Chris Anderson, who battered junior varsity pitching before getting a handful of varsity at-bats this spring, came up in the clutch in the championship game against Eastside.

Tied 2-2 in the sixth inning, Anderson belted a two-run home run to give Uptown a 4-2 lead.

Eastside cut the lead to 4-3 but in the seventh inning Uptown’s Aaron Cunningham knocked in Patrick Kelly for an insurance run.

Eastside managed to put runners on second and third but with two outs Kyle Howe, of Poulsbo, struck out the final batter to end the game.

In the semifinal game against Magnolia, Seattle, Anderson hit for the cycle in the 20-0 route. Josh Fullington and Ricky Kohlmeier combined for a one-hit shutout.

Howe was named MVP of the tournament, Kelly was defensive player of the tournament, and Anderson was the offensive player of the tournament.

Uptown opened the tournament with a 4-1 win against the Tacoma Aces, and followed with a 5-1 win against Five Star Orioles.

Uptown defeated the University Place Vikings 13-6 in the quarterfinals.

Uptown is in a 27-team Mickey Mantle League, which is run by Dow Baseball.

The team is currently third in the standings with an 8-1 record, but will host the league’s first and second place teams at the SK field June 16.

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