After the Key Peninsula Juniors dominated the district tournament, the team went into the state tournament with confidence.
Key Peninsula fought valiantly but fell in the second round of the state-tournament’s consolation bracket on Thursday in Spokane.
The all-stars played in the opening game of the tournament July 20 against South Skagit from District 11 and dominated from the first pitch in a 12-2, five-inning victory.
“That was a good way to start the tournament off,” coach Greg Vanoverbeke said. “We pitched well, we played good defense, and obviously the bats showed up. Winning game one was big for momentum, and we felt like we could take on anyone in the tournament after that victory.”
Key Peninsula advanced into the quarterfinals July 21 against West Seattle, and while they held one of the highest-scoring teams in the tournament to six runs, their bats never got going in a 6-0 loss to the District 7 champions.
“(West Seattle) was the best team we’ve seen so far.” Vanoverbeke said. “I actually thought we played a pretty good game, but their pitcher was dealing, and we made some mistakes in the field.
Because of the odd number of teams in the tournament, Key Peninsula played in the first round of the consolation bracket that same day against Steel Lake of District 10. Simi Valley beat Steel Lake 15-3 in the opening round.
The Key Peninsula offense exploded for 20 runs, and the all-stars got enough outs to avoid elimination with a 20-11 win.
The game was close at some points, but Key Peninsula put together two big innings to overcome some sloppy defense and less-than-stellar pitching.
“We just couldn’t have played much better offensively,” Vanoverbeke said. “We knew that we were going to have to score runs to keep fighting, and we did just that. We could have laid down, but we kept fighting. And despite giving up that many runs, I thought we did a nice job defensively and on the mound. It was a good win against a good club.”
The blowout moved Key Peninsula into a matchup against Lewis River, the District 6 champion, a team that also scored 20 runs in a win against West Plains.
The Lewis River bats didn’t go quiet, and Key Peninsula was eliminated, 20-3.
“It was just one of those days,” Vanoverbeke said. “We couldn’t get anything going offensively, and obviously they did. It would have been nice to end the year playing one of our better games, but that’s the way things go sometimes.”
Cascade, the District 4 champion, claimed the state title when it best West Valley on Friday.
Key Peninsula Little League President Adam Scroggins was still pleased with the team’s effort.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our season,” Scroggins said. “We played so well in the district tournament, and even before that. We went here and took on the very best in the state, and I think we held our own. I’m very happy with what our district accomplished, and the future is very bright.”Sports Editor Chris Crawford can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_chris.