ELMA — Grays Harbor’s 13-year-old all-stars more than redeemed themselves for their one bad inning at district.
Closing out both its final two opponents via the 10-run mercy rule, Grays Harbor captured the championship of the District III 13-year-old Babe Ruth Baseball Tournament in broiling conditions Sunday at Elma’s Eagle Field.
The Aberdeen-Hoquiam-East County combine walloped top-seeded Twin Cities of Centralia-Chehalis, 16-1, in the championship game. The Harborites had eliminated Mount St. Helens earlier in the day, 16-5.
Grays Harbor (technically designated as simply Harbor) qualified for the Southern Washington State Tournament beginning July 17 at Longview. While two state berths were ostensibly on the line, all three District III participants advanced due to the inability of South Thurston (the host team for regionals in Centralia) to field a 13-year-old team.
The Harborites were victimized by an 11-run third inning in their tourney-opening 12-7 loss to the Twin Cites, a showing that prompted manager Gary Gallinger to muse that his team needed to “redeem ourselves” in subsequent contests.
Mission accomplished. After that disastrous inning, Grays Harbor outscored its opponents by exactly 50 runs, 65-15.
The Harborites had beaten the Twin Cites, 7-4, and Mount St. Helens, 10-3, in round-robin play Saturday. The Twins, however, earned the top-seeded berth Sunday via the fewest runs allowed tiebreaker.
Needless to say, Gallinger had few complaints about his team’s play Sunday.
“I thought we played great defense and we didn’t have any mental mistakes that gave them extra outs,” he said. “We just played solid baseball. And we had clutch pitching. Every one of our pitchers did a great job.”
The hosts also collected 20 hits in Sunday’s doubleheader and scored in eight of the nine innings in which they batted.
Grays Harbor 16, Twin Cities 1
After parlaying three errors, two hit batters, a walk and Carson Klinger’s infield hit into a three-run first inning that gave them a permanent lead, the Harborites batted around in a seven-run third that broke open the game.
Their first eight batters reached safely in the third — a streak that included Chewy Muro’s double, Sean McAllister’s two-run single and RBI singles by Klinger, Zach Spradlin and Braydon Roiko.
McAllister also stroked a two-run single in a four-run fourth.
The right-handed McAllister pitched four scoreless innings. Undoubtedly feeling the effects of the 90-plus degree heat, he loaded the bases in the fifth on a single and a pair of walks before Jace Varner was summoned to the mound.
Kevin Clevenger’s bloop single to center field spoiled the shutout. But Varner speared Josh Dixon’s line drive back to the box and threw to first for a game-ending double play.
Spradlin, Roiko, McAllister, Varner and Klinger had two hits each for Harbor.
Grays Harbor 16, Mt. St. Helens 5
The Harborites actually trailed this contest, 3-2, before erupting for 13 runs in the third inning.
Jake Metke’s double knocked in Roiko, who had led off with a single, with the tying run. After a hit batter and walk loaded the bases, Hunter Oldham cleared them with a double to center.
Garrett Bradley added another three-run double later in the inning as Grays Harbor sent 18 batters to the plate.
With its thin pitching corps depleted, Mount St. Helens sent word it intended to forfeit after 3 1/2 innings but was persuaded to finish the contest. Babe Ruth rules prohibit a team that forfeits a district contest from competing at state.
As it developed, the Lewis County club rallied in the fifth to nearly extend the contest before Austin Timmons, the third Grays Harbor pitcher, recorded the final outs.
McAllister also had two hits in this game, as did Oldham and Metke. Dakota Robbins and Justin Lewis led Mount St. Helens with two hits.
Two critical defensive plays in the first inning helped ignite Grays Harbor past Twin Cities.
After matching Grays Harbor’s two run first, the Twins loaded the bases before Spradlin (a standout catcher throughout the tournament) picked a runner off third and pitcher Varner picked another off second.
Roiko and Bradley had hits in a three-run fourth that put the hosts in command.
Klinger’s bases-clearing double helped the Harborites beat Mount St. Helens. Grays Harbor pitchers worked out of numerous jams, stranding 15 runners.
MSH 201 02 — 5 5 2 GH 11(13) 1x — 16 8 4
Robbins, Stevenson (3), Tipp (3), Eaton (3) and Beck; Oldham, Bradley (4), Timmons (5) and Spradlin.
GH 317 40 — 15 12 0 TC 000 01 — 1 4 5
McAllister, Varner (5) and Spradlin; Hawkins, Bonagofski (3), Jensen (3), Lopez (4) and Clevenger.