WALLA WALLA - One state ticket was punched in District Five Little League action at the Valley Complex Wednesday.
In 9-10 All-Star play, Walla Walla Pacific had to work overtime, but it defeated Asotin County 20-9 in seven innings to earn a ticket to the 9-10 state tourney in Redmond.
For the 11-12 year olds, Asotin County's dramatic six-run sixth delayed the ticket punch asthe team eventually defeated Walla Walla Pacific 11-10.
The AC win forces a 6 p.m. game today between AC and WW Pacific for the 11-12 state berth.
The 10-11 All-Stars swing back into action this afternoon at 3 p.m. with WW Valley meeting WW Pacific in the rubber match of their three-game series to determine the 10-11 state berth.
Walla Walla Pacific 20, Asotin County 9
Sometimes, it's the little things that make the difference.
After Asotin County came back to tie WWP with a run in the bottom of the sixth, Taylor Hamada drew a lead off walk to open the WWP seventh.
Anthony Senne put down a sacrifice bunt that found the third base chalk line to stay fair. Asotin County picked the ball up and threw it into the right field corner, and Hamada hustled home with the go-ahead run and the flood gates opened.
WWP took advantage of inexperience on the AC mound and collected nine walks and a hit batsman. Add a two-run single from Reagan Bond and an RBI single from Tanner Mink, and WWP scored 11 in the top of the seventh.
Chase Phipps, the third WWP pitcher, worked a scoreless seventh as WWP claimed the 20-9 win and a trip to state.
"We didn't give up today," WWP manager Nate Ferraro said. "Our pitching walked a lot of batters and gave them (AC) the opportunity to score runs and that put us in a hole. Luckily, we have good enough hitters where we can work counts and get a good pitch to hit, and when they get a chance, they make it count."
WWP rode two home runs and five RBI from Austin Olson to a 5-2 lead, but Asotin answered with a five-spot in the second to grab a 7-5 lead after two.
Singles from Hamada, Kyren Morris, and Nathan Treadway keyed a four-run WWP fourth and produced a 9-7 WWP lead after four.
AC chipped away and came to its last at bat down 9-8.
Singles from Bryce Haddock and Noah Renzelman got AC even at 9-9. Phipps came on in relief and got the last two outs stranding the winning run (Renzelman) at third.
"I was sweating that a little bit," Ferraro said of the bottom of the sixth. "I made the change to Chase (Phipps) because he throws a lot of strikes. We gave up a (tying) run, but we had the top of the order coming up (in the seventh). I figured, we were good enough hitters that if we go extra innings, we're going to be a tough team to beat."
For WWP, the win completes a run of the tournament table as WWP defeated Asotin County 7-2 in its opener, then knocked off WW Valley 15-6 to set up the 20-9 title win over Asotin County.
"We've had a great tournament," Ferraro said. "Pitching has been good, as we've only given up four hits coming into today, although walks have been an issue. And showing up today, Austin (Olson) had been struggling at the plate, but comes in and hits his first two bombs of his career. That gave us a lot of momentum."
WWP will look to keep the ‘momentum' going as it opens State Tournament play July 16 at Redmond.
Asotin County 11, Walla Walla Pacific 10
WWP scored first on a second inning,run-producing single from Dakotta Bridges. Asotin County battled back to take a 3-2 lead with a two-run fourth.
Trailing 3-2, Pacific answered in the top of the fifth. Isaiah Standard opened the inning with a single, Riley Winnett followed with a drive over the right centerfield fence, and Pacific was back on top 4-3.
Grayson Gillin's bunt single scored Dexter Aichele, who reached on a walk. Bridges capped the inning with a two-run single as Jared Ortiz drew a walk with no outs and Gillin scooted home. WW Pacific seemed safely in the driver's seat with a 7-3 lead heading to the home fifth.
AC pecked away behind singles from Tyler Poe and Jared Hill and a safety squeeze bunt from Scott Slaybaugh to narrow the gap to 7-5 after five.
Winnett and Aichele hit back-to-back doubles for Pacific in the top of the sixth to highlight a three-run WWP inning that produced a 10-5 Pacific lead with three outs to go.
But as Yogi Berra said, it's not over ‘till it's over.
Jordan Bolen singled and Cade Gingerich followed with a double and Bolen scooted all the way home from first, 10-6. Blake Callahan walked, then a sacrifice bunt scored Gingerich.
Callahan eventually scored on an errant pitch, Hill reached on a fielder's choice, and Slaybaugh walked.
Blake Magnuson drove one into the left field corner for a triple and both Hill and Slaybaugh scored to tie it at 10-10.
Magnuson stole home as Bridges, the WWP catcher, returned a pitch to WWP pitcher Ortiz, and Magnuson slid in safe ahead of Ortiz's return throw and Asotin forced tonight's title match with the 11-10 win.
"I would've loved to have won this game," WWP manager Rod Fazzari said. "They (Asotin County) are a very good team. When Dexter (Aichele, WWP's starting pitcher) threw 27 pitches in the first inning and we knew he wouldn't be able to finish, it was a matter of who do you bring in. Jared Ortiz did a great job. He kept them off balance until the last inning.
"My hats off to Asotin County," Fazzari continued. "They had some key hits in critical situations and they kept coming back. It was a great Little League baseball game. It was exciting to be part of it. You're going to shed a few tears over a loss like that, especially when they steal home to lose it."
Standard, Bridges, Aichele and Winnett each collected two hits to lead the 10-hit Pacific attack.
Pacific and Asotin have split two tournament meetings, with WWP winning the opener behind the pitching of Standard 6-1, and AC forcing a third game with the 11-10 win.
"If you would've told me that we were going to be in the final with Isaiah Standard on the mound, I would've taken it any day of the week," Fazzari said of today's winner-take-all battle. "The fact is that we scored 10 runs off these guys and we have that kind of offense to do it tomorrow (Thursday). We saw everything they have and they didn't see everything we have. They'll see it tomorrow (Thursday). I'm happy to have Isaiah on the mound. We'll come back strong, with our heads up, and try to take it to them."
Asotin County 11, WW Pacific 10
WWP 011 053 - 10 11 1
AC 001 226 - 11 8 1
Aichele, Ortiz (4) and Bridges; Hill, Bolen (5), Magnuson (5), Mingo (5) and Gingerich, Poe (5).
HR - WWP: Winnett.
Hits - WWP: Standard 2, Ortiz, Bridges 2, Aichele 2, Chavez, Winnett 2, Gillin; AC: Hansen, Bolen 2, Slaybaugh, Poe, Hill, Magnuson, Gingerich.
WW Pacific 20, Asotin County 9
WWP 230 400 (11) - 20 10 2
AC 250 011 0 - 9 10 4
Olson, Treadway (2), Phipps (6) and Hamada; Renzelman, Gwinn (4), Landrus (7), Judy (7), Wilkinson (7) and Savolainen, Olszewski (4), Haddock (7), Savolainen (7).
HR - WWP: Olson, 2.
Hits - WWP: Senne 2, Olson 2, Bond 2, Hamada, Morris, Treadway, Mink; AC: Judy, Savolainen 2, Gwinn 3, Landrus, Wilkinson, Haddock, Renzelman.