LITTLE LEAGUE: Federal Way National 9/10 year olds lose in state title game

Federal Way National Little League
Federal Way National Little League's Tommy Davis throws a pitch during a game. National finished second at the 2011 9/10 State Tournament to Mercer Island Monday at Hartman Park in Redmond with an 8-5 loss in the title game.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The Federal Way National Little League 9- and 10-year-old all-star baseball team is the second best in Washington.

National lost to Mercer Island Little League in the championship game of the 2011 Washington State Little League Tournament, 8-5, Monday night at Hartman Park in Redmond. Over 150 all-star teams in the state started playing last month at district tournaments around Washington.

Federal Way's Gavin Knapp finished 2 for 3 with two doubles and Tommy Davis also contributed a double in the title game. But it wasn't enough.

It was Federal Way's second loss to Mercer Island during the double-elimination tournament. Mercer Island handed National its first loss Saturday in the semifinals, 9-5.

Federal Way then blew away Pacific Little League, 16-2, Sunday to earn the rematch with Mercer Island. National would have had to beat Mercer Island twice to claim the state title. Against Pacific LL, Federal Way's offense got huge contributions up and down the lineup. Cole Baker finished 3 for 3, Mark Wright Tate Wallat and Nate Clow were all 2 for 3 with a double and Davis ended up 2 for 4 on the day. Knapp picked up the victory on the mound for National.

"The boys have worked very hard and we are proud to represent our community, our league and our families," said head coach John Sugg.

National opened with three-straight wins at state. Federal Way downed Salmon Creek in a nail-biter in their opener, 3-2, before blowing out Cascade Little League from the Vancouver area July 17, 11-0. National then beat Northshore Little League on July 21 before losing to Mercer Island.

The three wins to start the state tournament were National's eighth in a row during the postseason. Federal Way won five-straight games to take the District 10 all-star title last month.

After losing to Bonney Lake/Sumner in the second round, National fought back through the consolation bracket, winning five games in a row, including two-straight over Kent in the championship round to advance to state. Federal Way beat Kent, 11-7, in the first title game and won the title with an 11-6 victory.

National also overcame a 9-4 deficit in their final at-bat during a 10-9 opening-round win over Auburn on June 16. Tate Wallat connected on a three-run, walk-off, two-out triple in the bottom of the sixth inning.

The Federal Way National 9/10 All-Star Team includes Malachi Afework, Cole Bakker, Blake Beck, Nate Clow, Tommy Davis, Connor Ellingson, Zak Gregg, Gavin Knapp, Travis Miller, Brandon Niksich, Ben Ray, Spencer Sugg, Tate Wallat and Mark Wright.

"It's really a kick to watch young kids play this well," Sugg said. "We took the maximum 14 guys, the other leagues think were are crazy having to get all the players in with the rigid substitution requirements. It's the strengh of our team, we have a lot of bodies and a lot of unity and everyone has a role. We even have four 9 year olds and they all have made significant contributions and understand their role."

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