By Bob Kirkpatrick
It’s been a decade in the making, but the wait is finally over as Woodinville turned back a stubborn North Bothell team 12-6 on Monday night, July 19, to claim its first 11U District 8 Little League Baseball All-Star championship since 2011.
“We are so proud of these boys—it’s been over a two-year journey for many of these kids to get here,” Assistant coach Jeff Otis said. “Half of our team played on the 10U All-Star team as 9-year-olds, and we didn’t do very well in districts that year. But we knew we would come back stronger as a 10U team, which didn’t happen because of COVID. So, this 11U team was our next chance at it.
“We set the goal of winning districts from the start, and what a thrill to get it done—and not just for the boys and these families, but our entire Woodinville community!”
But it was no easy task by any means as North Bothell snapped Woodinville’s 11-game win streak, 7-3, on July 18 to force a rematch in the championship bracket.
“North Bothell beat us on Sunday—and a tip of the cap to them. They played incredibly,” Otis said. “We decided to switch to our black jerseys for Monday to mix up the mojo. We knew North Bothell would give us everything they had. We told the boys to keep a positive mindset even if we were down at any point in the game and to remember our motto: ‘Fight and Finish.”‘
The championship game was a classic back-and-forth battle. Woodinville jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning off a two-strike double by Kai Roberto. North Bothell got one back in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single from Preston Sanders.
Woodinville pushed its lead to 3-1 in the top of the second on an RBI single to right field by Jace Bailey-Otis. The team added a run in the top of the third when starting pitcher Parker Cole hit an inside-the-park home run to make it 4-1 Woodinville.
It looked like Woodinville might run away with the game, but Bothell came alive in the bottom of the third to get back in it. A leadoff walk and a hard-hit ball past a diving Woodinville shortstop put runners on first and second base. A passed ball moved them both into scoring position. Lucas Douma’s single pushed two runs across the plate and closed the gap to 4-2. Bothell loaded the bases with one out. A single to right field by Tyler Young tied it 4-all. Dalton Tachell’s two-out single put Bothell out front, 5-4.
The lead was short-lived as back-to-back two-out RBI singles by Cole and Roberto, a walk and a two-RBI single by Jackson Markey put Woodinville back up top 8-5.
The score held up until Woodinville brought four runners across the dish in the top of the sixth inning to blow the game wide open, 12-5. Cole got things going with a leadoff double. Another double by Drew Sorensen, and singles by Harrison Abbott, Jackson Harris and Bailey-Otis accounted for the runs.
Bothell, not about to roll over and die, opened the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff triple by Tachell and an RBI single from Austin Madsen to make it 12-6. But two outstanding plays by Woodinville shortstop Jackson Harris; a diving stop on a screaming line drive and a quick flip to second base for the first out, and a stop up the middle on the next play helped turn a double play which snuffed out the Bothell rally and ended the game.
“Jackson is money for us. He’s a superstar at short,” Otis said. “He makes those plays all the time in practice. I’ve stopped being surprised at what Jackson can do on the field. He’s a great teammate and a wonderful kid to coach.
“We had spectacular plays from our defense all day. It was exactly the type of effort and the type of heart you need to have as a champion.”
Woodinville advanced to State with the win and will host a first-round game against Bainbridge Island Saturday a 2 p.m. at the Northshore Athletic Fields.