SK Babe Ruth team in NW regional tourney

Entering last week’s North Washington State Championships in Moses Lake, manager Bruce Johnson knew two things: He had an ace pitcher to lead the South Kitsap 15-year-old Babe Ruth team and he fully expected to win the tournament.

When the tourney ended Sunday night, Johnson and his team had their trophy, found another ace and gained the momentum needed as they head to the Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament next week in Oregon.

“With these guys, that’s how we address everything,” Johnson said. “We play with the intention of winning every game. We’re not here to lose, and the kids know that.”

SK followed its pitching and defense to the state title and earned a trip to Eagle Point Ore., for the Aug. 4-10 regional championships. There they will face teams from Oregon, Wyoming, Idaho, and Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.

The winner of the tourney advances to the World Series Aug. 13-15 in Longview.

“We didn’t hit particularly well in the first couple of games,” coach Jason Bunge said. “Pitching and defense won us all the games. Basically, we shut teams down.”

SK cruised through pool play undefeated, beating Central Basin 5-1 in the opener behind Trevor Johnson’s pitching and Michael Orcutt’s pair of doubles and two RBI.

Hale emerged as the team’s second ace with his masterful one-hit performance in a 3-0 win over Moses Lake. Hale also drove two runs in the game.

Joshua Lounsberry tossed a four-hitter to beat Eastlake 5-2 before the bats came alive in a 17-1 win over Mount Rainier. In that game, Kyle Hawkins knocked in five runs, Lounsberry four and Cory Dame drove in two.

Trevor Johnson and Matt Miller combined to shutdown Mount Rainier.

Sunday’s title game saw Hale toss a complete game in the 8-1 win over North Kitsap. Ian Richardson had three hits and three RBI, Kramer Mott collected a pair of hits while Hawkins knocked in two.

Hale received the Most Valuable Player award after the game.

“We think (Trevor Johnson) is our ace,” Bruce Johnson said. “But maybe now after the state tournament, we feel like we have two aces.”

That combination could prove lethal to opposing teams. With Trevor Johnson and Hale going one-two and Lounsberry a strong third pitcher, SK looks to be in great shape, as long as the bats stay active.

“Our pitchers only gave up one earned run all weekend, and that was in the championship game,” coach Kevin Darcy said. “Pitching and defense is going to win you games, and that’s where our main confidence is right now.”

Trevor Johnson is the team’s power pitcher and already has some varsity experience, having pitched for North Mason last season. Hale is more of a finesse pitcher, coaxing groundball outs and always seems to keep a low pitch count.

“With Trevor, he’s got a great fastball,” Bunge said. “He’s a strikeout pitcher. He’s not real conservative with his pitches. He likes to blow by guys.

“Ben, he’s a pin-point pitcher,” Bunge said. “He like to work both sides of the plate and he’s aggressive with guys, he makes them put the ball in play.”

Offensively, the coaches said a switch at the top of the order putting Orcutt at leadoff and Richardson batting second, has worked out well but both will be counted on to get on base.

“We have a lot of team speed. We like to run,” Bunge said. “Anytime we can take an extra bag, we’re taking it.”

With players from Port Orchard and surrounding areas, the team has had little time and just a few chances to really play together.

“I think the biggest thing out of the whole tournament is that these kids came together as a team,” Bunge said. “They’re really playing well as a team — we don’t have any individuals. We preach that, hard. And we drive these kids hard every day and we’re real proud of them. They came out and played their best.”

The group gathered for their first post-title practice Wednesday at the South Kitsap High School field and all three coaches said there was something new in the air.

“Most definitely,” Bruce Johnson said. “You can just see the bounce in their step. They realize they have a good thing going and I think they’re willing to take it as far as we can.”

That, everyone thinks, is a spot in the World Series.

“We have a legitimate shot,” Bunge said. “These kids are riding high right now and they’ll continue. They want the World Series.

“We tell the kids, you play your game and you play with intensity and good things will happen and it showed,” Bunge said. “These kids are ready to go and if they play their game, we’re going to have a good shot.”

n SK 14-year olds off to good start: The South Kitsap 14-year-old Babe Ruth baseball team beat Okanagan Valley 6-3 Wednesday in the opening round of the North Washington state tournament at Snider Park in Poulsbo.

Joe Seitz collected a pair of hits, including a triple, and drove in three runs while Mike Cooper was 2-2 with a double and 2 RBI.Brandon Mayfield also hit a double for SK while Derek Slack picked up the win.

SK was off Thursday and played Port Angeles Friday morning. Pool play continues this weekend as SK faces Yakima at 3 p.m. Saturday and Bellingham at noon Sunday.

The top two teams from each pool advance to Monday’s single-elimination championship round.

The title game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday.

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