Sports

SK Babe Ruth team earns berth to state

It’s common for injured athletes to show their loyalty to teammates by wearing a uniform just to feel like one of the guys.

Relegated to cheerleader, injured players always feel the void and a sense of helplessness.

That wasn’t the case for South Kitsap Babe Ruth baseball player Alex Jones.

A member of the 15-year-old team, Junes pulled the unthinkable to help his team defeat Olympic of Port Angeles 8-5 in the Babe Ruth District Championship game last week in Poulsbo.

Tied 5-5 after regulation, SK scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning to take an 8-5 lead.

But before the inning ended, an SK player was ejected from the game.

After all the substitutions SK coach Steve Bates pulled, the player’s ejection left him with eight players when it would take the field.

Playing with less than nine players is an automatic forfeit.

Bates said it was then Jones approached him and begged him to put him in the field.

“Alex had a broken collarbone, but he was in full uniform and his name was on the roster,” Bates said. “He said, ‘Coach I can do it, please let me do it’.”

Since SK had already clinched a state berth with Olympic, a loss would have been meaningless, Bates said.

“At first I said it was out of the question,” Bates said. “But then I said he had to ask his father for permission.”

Jones returned with his father’s full approval and the game continued.

“The umps were already off the field,” Bates said. “I had to get them.”

Bates plopped Jones in right field to play the line and put his other two outfielders in the gaps. “I told him if a ball is hit to him don’t even think about throwing it,” he said. “He told me he would underhand it to the nearest player. Fortunately no ball was hit to him.”

SK pitcher Jacob Yount came on in the final inning and shut down Olympic to close out the game. Both teams should have played another game to determine the champion since both teams each had a loss. But because of time constraints a coin flip determined Olympic the champion.

And because the district tournament combined District 4 with District 8 (seven-team tournament), each district champion earned a spot in the state tournament, which gets underway tomorrow in Poulsbo at 2 p.m.

Bates said it took a total team effort for SK to reach the state tournament. After dropping an opening round game to Bainbridge Island, SK rebounded to win the final four games of the tournament.

Yount earned a complete game shutout against Sequim early in the tournament, and Matt Hudson pitched well in a win against Central Kitsap, Bates said. But when Hudson went down with a sore arm, Bates said the emergency combined pitching of Derek Webb and Austin Brown helped propel SK into the championship round.

Webb and Brown helped SK get revenge on Bainbridge Island. “Derek really stepped up and shut Bainbridge down,” Bates said. “That was fun to see. Austin really kept Bainbridge hitters off balance.”

Offensively, Bates said every player contributed but pointed out the clutch hitting of Brad Ossman.

“Brad hit a game-winning bases-loaded hit against CK and he had clutch hits against Olympic in the championship game.”

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