From a 0-16 record to 49-10 and a trip to the Babe Ruth Baseball World Series.
That’s the journey Spokane’s 13U Garco team has traveled the last half-dozen years, and it’ll put them in Westfield, Massachusetts, on Thursday for the start of the 10-team national tournament that will run through Aug. 15.
Garco stamped its ticket for the cross-country trip by winning the Pacific Northwest Regional last week in Miles City, Montana. It capped a 7-0 tournament with a 10-8 championship game win over West Linn, Oregon, on Sunday following a 5-0 sweep of the state tournament in Ephrata the previous week.
Starting pitcher Emerson Fleck (Northwood), named the championship game MVP, worked five innings with three strikeouts and left with a 10-2 lead and his pitch count rising. Easton Amend (Greenacres) went 2 for 2 with a double and drove in three runs and Tanner Smith (Greenacres) drove in two as Garco held on in the regional title game.
In the semifinal Sunday, Garco beat Kelso, Washington, 16-2 as Nate Fitzpatrick (Greenacres) pitched five three-hit innings, giving up just one earned run. Easton O’Neal (Centennial) went 4 for 4 and drove in two runs and Zach McMurtrey (Evergreen) drove in three as eight of the nine players had at least one RBI.
Fitzpatrick had a big hand in Garco’s final pool win that assured it the No. 1 seed out of its pool. With Spokane trailing 5-0 and just one out in the first inning, he came in and pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings, allowing Garco to rally for a 6-5 win over Bozeman. Fitzpatrick gave up just the one earned run in 11 2/3 innings in the two games he pitched in the tournament.
Garco ended its first-round game early, beating South Oregon 13-2 on the 10-run mercy rule when Xavier Hattenburg capped a 4-for-4, four-RBI game with a two-run double in the sixth.
“The core group we’ve had since they were 6-7 years old,” head coach Eric Sandberg said. “When we first put this team together, we didn’t win a game. I think we were 0-16. Nobody was fighting to be on our team back then.”
But Sandberg and assistants Ray Hattenburg and Mike Russo worked diligently teaching the basics – “teaching them the right way to play the game,” as Sandberg said. About three years ago, Don O’Neal joined the staff and added another knowledgeable teaching voice. All the coaches played professionally.
“We’ve got kids who are really aggressive,” Sandberg said. “We’re trying to teach them to swing the bat. We don’t like four balls (walks).
“To see it all come together has been fun to watch.”
The other players: AJ Russo (Northwood), Drew Rayment (Mountainside), Tucker Stocum (Greenacres), Kole Legrant (Greenacres), Quinn Hubbs (Centennial), Henry Sandberg (Cataldo) and Avrey Cherry (Canfield).
Track & field
Sativa Rogers, the versatile athlete who won the State 4A girls long jump for Lewis and Clark in the spring, won the USA Track & Field Jr. Olympic national championship in the event in the women’s 17-18-year-old division last weekend in Sacramento, California, to lead the showing by members of the Spokane Speed Academy.
The recent Spokane Valley High School-Transition graduate who competed for LC jumped 19 feet, 10 1/4 inches. She was also a member of the SSA girls 4x100 relay team that placed second, earning her a second All-America designation.
Two members of the SSA boys team medaled in the javelin. Matt Hocket (Oakesdale) placed third in men’s 17-18 at 187 feet, 9 inches and Ryan Rieckmann (Cheney) was seventh in boys 15-16 at 164-7, also gaining All-America honors as SSA earned 19 national medals and had 16 All-Americans. The other 13 all medaled in relays.
An unattached runner from Spokane, Keenan Kuntz (Sacajawea), earned All-America honors by placing third in the boys 13-14 long jump at 20- 1/2 and sixth in the 100m with an 11.50-second time.
SSA relay medalists with placings in their age groups: Skyler Walton (Wenatchee), 2nd 4x100, 8th 4x400; Katherine Petsch (Kamiakin), 2nd 4x100; La Trouchka Duke (West Valley), 2nd 4x100, 8th 4x400; Madison Warren (Cheney), 8th 4x400; Angelyca Chapman (Lake City), 8th 4x400; Elijah Gordon (Avon, Conn.), 8th 4x100 relay.
Nate Burch (Coeur d’Alene HS), 8th 4x100 relay; Jacob Schnatter (Lake City), 8th 4x100; Pedro Sandre (Medical Lake), 8th 4x100; Naomi Butler (Lewis and Clark), 5th 4x800; Fair Niven (St. George’s), 5th 4x800; Sariah Maughan (Seely Lake, Mont.), 5th 4x400.
Time ran out on the Spokane Sliders. Their magical run came up a couple of runs short.
Two weeks after running eight straight wins following a first-game loss to win the USA Softball of Idaho 14U State tournament in Boise, the Sliders fashioned a 6-1 record to get a championship game shot at unbeaten Northwest Sidewinders in the USA Softball 14U A Western National Championship tournament at the Dwight Merkel Complex last Saturday.
But after scoring a run in the seventh inning, with a runner on and the tying run at the plate, the Sliders couldn’t generate any more offense and dropped an 8-6 decision to the Eatonville, Washington, team, leaving them with second place.
Isabella Bay (North Central) drove in four runs for the Sliders and Hope Bodak (Lakeland of Rathdrum) drove in three. Dakota Smith went 4 for 4 with two RBIs for Sidewinders, one in a decisive four-run third inning.
Sliders coach Kirsten Flerchinger, who put her team through a difficult travel schedule during the season “to challenge them so we could compete at state and nationals,” credited that approach with getting them into the championship game.
After Bailey Benson (Gonzaga Prep) opened bracket play for the Sliders by pitching a perfect game in a 15-0, first-round win over Polson, Montana, they lost 11-3 to Absolute Blast of Monroe, Wash., in the second round.
The teams would meet again, in the third-place game for the right to play for the championship. The Sliders scored four runs in the first inning on a two-run double by Bodak and run-scoring doubles by Bay and Chloe Flerchinger (Shadle Park) and Benson allowed just one run in an 8-1 win.
The first inning “just set everything up,” said the coach, noting it showed the season-long plan had paid dividends. “These players rose to the challenge on so many occasions.”
The other players: Payton Dressler (Mt. Spokane), Teagan Webster (Shadle Park), Abigail Flerchinger (Salk MS), Jade Christianson (Lakeside-Nine Mile Falls), Taylor Craig (Castlegar, B.C.), Madison Saty (Evergreen MS), Brooke Long (Timberlake JH), Emily Schulhauser (Central Valley), Bailey Wilkins (Mead). The assistant coaches: George Lynn, John Dressler.
Post Falls Blast (1-2) and Coeur d’Alene Crush (0-2) tied for seventh and Spokane Diamonds-Nine (0-2) were ninth in the nine-team 14U A field.
• Crossfire Rollins of Eagle, Idaho, came out of the losers’ bracket to defeat Salt Lake Pegasus 8-6 and 6-5 to win the championship of the USA Softball 16U A Western National also contested at Merkel last week. Pegasus had defeated Crossfire 4-3 in the winners’ bracket final.
LC Lightening (2-2) of Lewiston tied for seventh for the best finish by a trio of area teams in the 16-team field. Spokane Stealth-Martinez (1-2) and Spokane Mudhens-Connor (1-2) were in a four-way tie for ninth.
The West Kootenay Orioles, champions of Spokane’s Single-A American Division, followed that up by winning the Washington American Legion Single-A state championship this week in Hanford.
West Kootenay, 15-1 as the runaway leader in the Spokane league, used a six-run rally in the top of the seventh inning to break open a tight game and defeat the host Hanford Flames 14-6 to cap a 5-0 run through the eight-team field.
Mt. Spokane Wild and University both had 1-2 records and Gonzaga Prep went 0-2.
AA: Mt. Spokane Wild was 2-2 and came within a win of advancing to the championship game of its bracket of the 16-team tournament in Yakima. Wild was eliminated 8-1 by West Valley of Yakima, which went on to play for the AA title, losing 5-1 to the Kennewick Phantoms.
Gonzaga Prep, University and the Pullman Posse all had 1-2 records and Asotin was 0-2.
AAA: Like the Wild in AA, the Spokane Bandits were a win away from playing for their bracket championship when they lost 6-1 to the Vancouver Cardinals, leaving them with a 2-2 record. Shadle Park and the Spokane Northstars both had 1-2 records and Mt. Spokane Wild was 0-2.
The Kennewick Outlaws used a five-run first inning to kick-start a 6-2 victory over Lakeside Recovery of Issaquah for the state championship. Both teams advance to the eight-team regional tournament next week in Lewiston with a trip to the American Legion World Series on the line.
Eastern Washington Elite took eight boys teams in four age levels to Las Vegas the last two weeks and posted a combined 63-22 record in two tournaments while collecting seven bracket championships and two runners-up finishes.
Its 14U Built4Ball team had a combined 12-0 record in winning the Platinum bracket in both the Las Vegas Main Event, with a 62-50 championship-game win over Chosen Few of Las Vegas, and the Las Vegas LIVE tournament, with a 64-55 title-game win over Genesis Hoops Black of Temecula, California.
The Built4Ball players: Jackson Floyd (Ferris), Nathan Hocking (Ferris), Zach Johnson (Lake City), Jamil Miller (Gonzaga Prep), Kolton Mitchell (Lake City), Boen Phelps (Freeman), Kruz Wheeler (Ferris). Coaches: Ryan Floyd and Vince Grippi
EW Elite Green, 5-2 in both tournaments, won the 14U Silver bracket in the Main Event with a 56-31 title-game win over Bay Area Tar Heels, and captured the Gold bracket in the LIVE tournament with a 44-42 title-game win over Montana Hoops. Kyle Hurst is the coach.
EW Elite White 16U, coached by Ryan Peplinski, defeated South Bay Mambas 61-41 for the Gold bracket title in the LIVE tournament. It’s only loss in six games came in pool play to the eventual Platinum champions.
EW Elite Blue U15, coached by Mike Hamilton, played for two Platinum titles and finished as the runner-up in both tournaments. They were the Blue team’s only losses in 12 games.
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