The Chehalis 9-11-year-old All-Stars kept their state title hopes alive with a 32-0 thrashing of Anacortes in the 9-10-11 Washington state Little League Tournament Monday night in Woodinville, Washington.
Chehalis kicked off the state tourney with a walk-off 7-6 victory over West Seattle on Saturday, July 24, in Woodinville, after capturing the District 3 championship on July 16.
The Mint City boys entered the game after having not allowed a run in their past 16 innings. They trailed 6-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth then loaded the bases with no outs for Brenden Stevens, who smashed a hit to second base that allowed Baron Luond to score the game-winning run from third base.
That sent Chehalis to the second round of the double-elimination tourney on Sunday, where it lost 13-8 to Bonney Lake.
Chehalis moved to the loser’s bracket and faced Anacortes Monday night at Northshore Athletic Fields in Woodinville, walking away with a 32-0 win in three innings.
“We played alright,” Chehalis Manager Brett Hultberg said. “It wasn’t the best team we’ve gone up against. We’re a lot better. They struggled to throw a lot of strikes and, when they did, we hit it pretty well.”
Chehalis batted around the order two and a half times in the first inning alone. Hultberg took out his top three hitters in the second inning and brought in substitutions with the game already well in hand.
The Mint City boys batted around two more times in the second inning and ended up bunting every at-bat with the bases loaded to get the game over with and limit runs.
Tegan Guerrero threw 20 pitches as the starter and Jonathan Hartwell threw 26 in relief across the three innings to help Chehalis advance to the next round.
Hultberg said he was pleased with how the team responded after its loss to Bonney Lake the day before.
Anacortes, however, was one of the weaker teams in the tourney. The Seahawks from north Skagit County do not have any other 9-11-year-old all-star teams in their district and received an automatic bid to the state tourney. They lost their first game by 20-plus runs to Walla Walla.
“They were a little young, too,” Hultberg said. “I think they had a lot of 10 year olds. But they wanted to try and play in the all-star state tournament. They’re just young and not as advanced in the game of baseball as most teams there.”
Despite being in the loser’s bracket, Chehalis can still win the state title, their path to the championship game will just be longer than the teams in the winner’s bracket. Chehalis will need to win a game every night from now until the first championship game on Saturday. The loser’s bracket winner will then need to beat the winner of the winner’s bracket twice in order to capture the state title.
Chehalis moved on to the next round, where they faced a perennially-strong Mill Creek team south Snohomish County on Tuesday night in a loser-out game. Mill Creek fell in extra innings to Eastlake in the opening round and is coming off a victory over Bainbridge Island on Monday night.
“They’re always in the top of the state for Little League,” Hultberg said. “We’ve played three games already, this will be our fourth one, so we start to have less and less pitchers who are eligible to throw. It can turn into a slugfest real fast.”
If Chehalis can defeat Mill Creek, they will have the bulk of their starting pitchers, Talon Guerrero, Carter Jackson and Baron Luond, available to throw on Wednesday.
Chehalis and Mill Creek face off at 6 p.m., Tuesday, at Northshore Athletic Fields in Woodinville. Evan Hultberg is set to start on the mound for Chehalis.