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MoundTime 14U team takes second in nation

What MoundTime’s 14U team is feeling after losing the Babe Ruth Little League World Series Championship, 8-1, to Westchester, Calif., on Saturday can only be described as rotten.

To come oh so close to a title and come up a step short hurts, of course. MoundTime players put in more than a half a year of strenuous work to call themselves champions and raise the program’s second national title banner.

Yet, eventually, the sting of losing a championship game will subside.by: COURTESY PHOTO: MAUREEN BLAIR - MoundTime 14Us Andrew Blair rounds second base at the Babe Ruth Little League World Series in Moses Lake, Wash. MoundTime 14U took second the nation.

When MoundTime looks back at its long journey to the World Series in Moses Lake, Wash., head coach Brian Pollard believes players will remember the good times. The bus rides as a team. The regional and state crowns. The unforgettable quarterfinal and semifinal World Series wins to reach the final game in front of thousands of fans.

There are 298 teams that would kill to be in MoundTime’s position, and what its accomplished both in the spring and summer won’t soon be forgotten.

“I’m sure it’s hard for them to see what sort of accomplishment that really is, but when the dust settles, they’ll look back and say, ‘Wow, second in the country is not too shabby for sure’,” said Pollard. “Being that it was the last hurrah before high school and being able to say you were in the championship game is an accomplishment in itself. Overall, I’m so proud, and they played extremely well.”

MoundTime spilt its first pool-play games, beating Puget Sound, Wash., 11-6, and Longwood, Fla., 9-8. The 14Us set up their pitching rotation just the way they’d originally planned and were able to save the top of their rotation for the single-elimination round. Against Longwood, Westview High rising sophomore Kyle Thompson went 2-3 with two RBIs, Renner Stecki notched two hits and an RBI as did Keegan Hey and Jayden Hanna. Pollard said there were times MoundTime’s starters struggled, but guys came off the bench and stepped up to stop the bleeding.

“Everybody did what they were supposed to do,” said Pollard. “Whether it was coming off the bench in a pinch run situation or pinch hit or relief appearance. It was really a great team effort to get out of pool play into the quarters.”

Heading into the elimination bracket against Jasper, Ind., Pollard said MoundTime still hadn’t played its best baseball yet. However, Beaverton resident pitcher Kyle Temme put together a big-time, clutch start in the quarterfinals against Jasper, throwing five and a third innings while allowing six hits and just one earned run.

“He was outstanding,” Pollard said of Temme. “We needed him in a big game, needed him to go deep in the game and he did.”

MoundTime heaped on 14 hits as a team including three from Beaverton resident Sean Davidson in a runaway 12-5 win. Gabe Skoro ripped a base hit and scored a run. Huey and Thompson both tallied two RBIs, and Hanna had two hits.

Stecki threw a gem in the semis versus Clifton Park, N.Y., going the full seven innings while yielding on one earned run in a hard-fought 7-3 triumph. Huey and Clark led MoundTime with two base knocks, and Skoro scored twice. Clark also made four or five defensive plays at third base that Pollard said kept the 14Us in the game.

“We had so many guys in different parts of the tournament step up in big situations for us,” said Pollard. “When we got out of pool play, we needed a big performance in the quarterfinals, and we got that. We needed a big performance in the semifinals, and we go that. You throw your chips on the table in the championship, and sometimes you win, and unfortunately sometimes you don’t.” by: COURTESY PHOTO: MAUREEN BLAIR - MoundTime 14Us Sean Davidson was one of the teams leaders in hits and RBIs at the Babe Ruth Little League World Series in Moses Lake, Wash. MoundTime 14U took second the U.S.

MoundTime players fought and scratched so hard to reach the quarterfinals and semifinals just to give themselves a chance to reach the national championship and have a puncher’s chance against a loaded Westchester squad.

“As a team and a coaching staff, we wanted to get to the championship because you never know what can happen,” said Pollard. “Whether you have your ace on the mound or your number four or five starter on the mound, you just never know. (Westchester) made adjustments quicker than we did, and they took advantage.”

Hillsboro’s Brandon Gibson threw three and a half innings of perfect baseball on the mound, but MoundTime’s bats didn’t come around like Westchester’s did. MoundTime only had three hits, after relying heavily on its offensive arsenal through pool and single-elimination play. Thompson and Clark continued to rake with base hits by each, but Westchester scored three runs in the fifth and four runs in the sixth to run away with the 8-0 title win. However, MoundTime players never started pointing fingers at each other or came apart at the seams mentally. Their fraternal bond forged over the past two seasons, and particularly the last six months, made the loss easier to absorb.

MoundTime experienced its ups and downs as any championship-worthy team does. Yet, when they needed a win the 14Us did everything their coaches asked of them and came through. Starting six months ago in the gigantic MoundTime warehouse in Hillsboro until the championship game on that steamy Saturday in Moses Lake, the squad exerted itself to be the best.

“They trusted each other, they trusted the players and coaching staff and how we were going to get there,” said Pollard. “They believed in the system, and it worked out in the end. When we started out this process months ago, we just said, ‘Keep getting better, keep working on the next day, the next practice, the next game.’ We worked toward the ultimate goal and almost got it.”

The boys stayed with host families around Moses Lake and met a lot of players from around the country who Pollard said they’ll surely stay in touch with. A lot of the host families had little kids who the MoundTimers got to play baseball with in the backyard and just relax with during the heat of competition.

“The vibe was great. It was kind of a Big League feel,” said Pollard. “A lot of fans from Moses Lake came out and supported us. The host families were rooting for our boys, so it was a lot of fun. It was a great tournament, great atmosphere

Huey was named to the all-tournament team. Skoro (second base), Hanna (shortstop), Thompson (centerfield) and Davidson (first base) all took home Gold Gloves for their defensive prowess.




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