Uptown keeps Rebels at bay

Looking to grab at least a first-place tie in the Mickey Mantle League, Uptown Autobody quickly watched its goal come crashing down with an 11-2 opening doubleheader loss to the second-place Kirkland Merchants at Buck Gehring Memorial Field.

But the South Kitsap 16U select baseball team — made up of mostly South Kitsap High School players — rebounded in the second game with a 9-1 victory against the first-place Kirkland Rebels.

Uptown coach Lenie Hamm said he was a bit perplexed that his team defeated the better team.

“We didn’t show up in the first game, and (the Rebels) are tougher than the first team,” Hamm said.

Uptown Autobody, which will play at the prestigious Continental Amateur Baseball Association World Series (CABA) in Marietta, Ga., July 19-29, is one of 27 teams in the Mickey Mantle League.

While it won’t matter where Uptown places in the league standings, Hamm said the league acts as a measuring stick.

Hamm said the team is far from ready to compete against the top-caliber teams from around the world, and used the 11-2 loss to the Merchants as an example.

“I’m glad we have half a season to go,” Hamm said. “We’ve got guys that aren’t in the right places at the right time, not backing up teammates, and missing signals.”

Hamm conceded there were situations beyond his control that may have contributed to Uptown’s lackluster first game.

“We had eight days off,” he said. “Many of these guys had football camp for two weeks with (SK) coach (D.J.) Sigurdson. They were tired.”

But Uptown woke up in the second game and held the Rebels at bay behind the pitching of Josh Fullington.

Fullington gave up three hits in six innings and struck out five in the 9-1 win, which ended in the sixth because of the eight-run rule.

“Josh pitched a great game,” Hamm said. “He didn’t have his greatest stuff, but he did a nice job.”

Offensively, Derek Abad set the tone for Uptown with a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning.

Chris Anderson was solid at the plate with three hits, including a double, and two RBI.

Pat Kelly added a single and a run-scoring double, and Josh Shadbolt added an RBI-single.

Hamm admitted Uptown didn’t face the Rebels’ best pitching.

“They didn’t have their number one,” Hamm said. “This was their third day in a row, but we still beat a good team.”

In the first game, the Merchants chased North Kitsap junior-to-be Kyle Howe after just 1 1/3 innings pitched.

Howe gave up eight of the game’s 11 runs.

Ricky Kohlmeier stepped in relief and held the Merchants to three runs in the final five innings.

But the damage was already done.

Hamm said Howe’s performance was uncharacteristic but it happens to everyone.

“Kyle just didn’t have it today,” Hamm said. “It’s just one of those things that happens.”

Of the 27 teams in the league, Hamm said there are six top-notch teams, and Uptown has played all but two of them.

“We’ve played the toughest part of the schedule pretty much,” he said. “We have two tough teams left.”

Uptown won’t have another home game until a doubleheader June 30 against Island BB and Federal Way.

It will play at the CABA World Qualifying Tournament in Redmond June 23-29 despite already qualifying.

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