WALLA WALLA - District Five completed its state tournament slate in Thursday district championship Little League baseball action here at the Valley complex.
In the 11-12 All Star district title battle, Asotin County completed its march through the loser's bracket and posted an 8-6 win over Walla Walla Pacific on the field, and then withstood a rules violation to officially take the district title and the berth to the Washington State Tournament.
In 10-11 action, Walla Walla Pacific scored early and often to take the rubber match of its three-game series with Walla Walla Valley. Pacific earned the district state berth with a 16-1 win.
Asotin will open 11-12 state play in Vancouver on July 23.
WW Pacific will travel to Cheney and open state 10-11 action on July 16.
Wednesday's winner in the 9-10 bracket, Walla Walla Pacific, will travel to Redmond and open the 9-10 state tourney on July 16.
11-12 All Stars
Asotin County 8, Walla Walla Pacific 6
Pitching makes the difference in Little League baseball, especially at the end of a tournament when a lot of pitching has been used and players are no longer eligible.
Pacific's Isaiah Standard and Asotin's Jordan Bolen locked up in a pitching dual.
Asotin was clinging to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth. Standard got two outs, in thanks to Pacific's second strike-out throw-out double play of the game, but Standard reached his 85th pitch and was forced to retire.
Asotin went to work and scored six runs on one infield hit - a slow roller off the bat of Jared Hill - and four walks and three hit batsmen off two Pacific relievers and took an 8-1 lead to the top of the sixth.
Bolen gave up a lead off single to Mitch Lesmeister to start the Pacific sixth. Bolen got a strikeout, but walked Standard and reached his 85-pitch limit and left leading 8-1.
Pacific responded with three hits, three walks, and five runs to cut the lead to 8-6 with the bases loaded before Asotin got the last out.
The die may have been cast for Pacific in the first inning. Standard walked the bases full, and used 27 pitches to get out of the first unscathed.
"You could tell he (Standard) didn't have it early," Pacific manager Rod Fazzari said. "He struggled with his command. He couldn't throw a curve ball for a strike until the third inning.
"Then suddenly, he had it. But even up to the fourth inning, we were thinking that if we could just get some one and two pitch at bats, we might be OK. We have other guys that can pitch, but those guys (Asotin) are such good hitters, that once he (Standard) comes out, (we knew) it was going to be tough to hold them down."
Standard doubled with one out in the Pacific fourth, then beat a relay from Asotin first baseman Hill on Riley Winnett's ground out to get to third. Dexter Aichele faked a bunt on three straight pitches and got Bolen to uncork a wild pitch, and Standard scored.
In the Asotin fourth, Blake Callahan broke a streak of five straight Standard strikeouts with a one-out single. An outfield bobble in the Pacific outfield got Callahan to second.
Callahan would tie it as he scored on a Pacific overthrow, and when Scott Slaybaugh's grounder escaped Pacific's infield, Hill, who had walked, scooted home for a 2-1 Asotin lead.
Standard kept Asotin in check until the pitch count caught up to him, and Asotin hung the six runs on the scoreboard in the fifth.
Asotin scored six runs in the sixth on Wednesday to pull out an 11-10 win, forcing Thursday's battle. After Bolen left, it looked like Pacific was going to return the favor.
In the sixth, Winnett greeted Blake Magnuson, who relieved Bolen, with an RBI single. Aichele singled, Grayson Gillin and Alex Lemus drew walks, and Dakotta Bridges brought a run home with a base hit to narrow the gap to 8-6. A walk to Lesmeister loaded the bases, but Magnuson got out of it with a strike out.
Bolen was the difference as he pitched into the sixth, only giving up three Pacific hits and two walks. Bolen struck out three, but his defense made the plays.
"He (Bolen) doesn't give you anything," Fazzari said. "He doesn't walk you. You have to earn it. You have to hit your way on and hit your way off. Today, we hit, but we hit it right at them. He pitched a great game."
The drama didn't end with the last out, as Asotin violated the mandated playing rule, in that its lone substitute, by rule, was required to play six-outs on defense, and only played three.
"At the end, we knew they had a mandatory playing problem," Fazzari said. "To be honest, I thought we had the game won (by forfeit for rule violation). It used to be that (violation) was an automatic forfeit. They (Little League officials) recently changed that (the automatic forfeit)."
The district officials conferred and applied the current and correct rule to find Asotin the winner of the District Five Title and the automatic state berth, but the rule suspends AC's manager Geoff Magnuson for their first two state games.
Pacific wins second place with a 2-2 tournament finish.
"It was a fun game to be involved in," Fazzari said of the championship game. "There's no shame in losing to Asotin County. They are very good. They will represent our district well (at state)."
10-11 All Stars
WW Pacific 16, WW Valley 1
Mason Knowles led off the game for Pacific by beating out a grounder to deep short, and Pacific never looked back.
Connor Hoeft followed with a single, Levi Haen reached on a Valley error, Ben Ortiz beat out an infield hit, and Devon Oliver culminated the Pacific first with a RBI double and Pacific led 4-0.
"We focused on getting ahead early," Pacific manager Stacy Bergevin said. "We hit the ball and played smart."
Oliver did the rest on the mound for Pacific. He pitched all four innings and gave up four hits, while striking out seven, and not walking anyone.
"He (Oliver) was focused today," Bergevin said. "He threw a lot of strikes. I knew we would be OK if we could play well on defense (an errorless game) and get good pitching. We needed that good pitching performance."
Pacific broke this one open with an eight-run third. Hoeft's two-run single, Ben Ortiz' run scoring base hit, and two-run doubles from James Calzadillas and Oliver keyed the Pacific uprising.
Valley got on the board following back-to-back singles by Carter Davis and Parker Likes to open the Valley fourth. Davis, following his lead off single, advanced to second on an errant pitch, and scored on Likes' single.
Josh Camacho and Jake Kohler collected the other Valley hits.
Hoeft and Oliver each had three hits to lead Pacific's 13-hit attack.
Pacific takes the District Five Title and will open play at the 10-11 state tournament in Cheney July 16.
"There are 13 district champions at Cheney," Bergevin said. "We have a decent shot to go fairly deep (in the tournament). There will be some really good teams and we'll face some really good pitchers. It comes down to pitching and defense with us. If we play like we did today, we'll win a few games."
Asotin County 8, Walla Walla Pacific 6
WW Pacific 000 105 - 6 6 3
Asotin County 000 26x - 8 4 4
Standard, Zehner (5), Winnett (5) and Lesmeister; Bolen, Magnuson (6) and Gingerich, Poe (6).
Hits - WWP: Lesmeister 2, Standard, Winnett, Aichele, Bridges; AC: Hill 2, Callahan, Mingo.
WW Pacific 16, WW Valley 1
WW Pacific 428 2 - 16 13 0
WW Valley 000 1 - 1 4 5
Oliver and Ortiz; Davis, Camacho (3) and Lemma, Worden (4).
Hits - WWP: Knowles, Hoeft 3, Ortiz 2, Oliver 3, Golden, Calzadillas, Elsom, Haen; WWV: Camacho, Kohler, Davis, Likes.