WALLA WALLA — The 2013 Walla Walla Bears Sweet Invitational American Legion baseball tournament opens up round robin play today with 12 teams in four divisions vying for the championship that just eluded the host Bears last summer.
Bears win Firecracker tournament
YAKIMA — The Walla Walla Bears edged Damage Baseball of Puyallup, Wash., 5-3, to win the 32nd annual Yakima Firecracker Tournament here on Sunday.
“We played some real good baseball in Yakima and executed in critical situations,” Bears coach Brian Kitamura said. “(Travis) Haen and (Conner) Holbrook had two great hit-and-runs, which allowed us to keep pressure on their defense.”
Damage plated two first-inning runs to grab the early lead, but Walla Walla answered with two in the second to even it up. The Bears took the lead with a run in the fourth, and added two more in the fifth.
Damage managed one more six-inning score as the Bears closed out the tournament title victory.
A.J. Carkner went 5 2/3 innings in the start for Walla Walla, giving up three hits while earning his second win of the tournament. The lone hiccup was a two-run homer in the first inning, but he settled in and didn’t allow another hit until the sixth inning.
Jake Campeau relieved Carkner and slammed the door on the Damage batters for his second save of the tourney.
Connor Johnson and Moe Handcox were among the eight Bears with hits in the game, and both completed the tournament with a hit in each of Walla Walla’s six games. They were named to the all-tournament team, and Campeau was named tourney Most Valuable Player.
“I’m proud of the way our guys played,” Kitamura said. “We had a tough pool to get through and we played hard the whole way. Everyone played a role and our younger players are really beginning to step up.”
The Bears, winners of eight of their last nine games, take a 20-6-1 overall record into their annual Walla Walla Sweet Invitational this weekend. They open against the Pullman Patriots at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Walla Walla Community College, followed by Washington FCA at 7:15 p.m.
Bears 5, Damage Baseball 3
Damage 200 001 0 — 3 4 1
Bears 020 120 x — 5 8 4
N. Moore, Seeley (5) and McCoy. Carkner, Campeau (6) and Holbrook.
HR — Damage: J. Moore.
Hits — Damage: Seeley, Jones, J. Moore, Hobbs; WW: Johnson, Haen, Handcox, Holbrook, Christina, Toon, Caudill, Shuler.
The Bears fell to the Bothell Pride in last year’s title tilt.
The Bears are in the Maroon Division with the Pullman Patriots and Washington FCA. Pullman and Washington FCA face off at 8 p.m. at Borleske Stadium.
The Bears open their tournament against Pullman at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Walla Walla Community College, followed by Washington FCA on the same field at 7:15 p.m.
The Gold Division includes the Caldwell Bobcats, Spokane Northstars and Tri-County Outlaws; the White Division includes the Hanford Flames, Spokane Blue Devils and Washington Rush; and the Black Division includes the Eastside Baseball Club, Lewis-Clark Twins and Spokane Crew.
The tourney opens at 5:15 this afternoon, with Caldwell facing the Northstars at WWCC, and the Blue Devils taking on the Rush at Borleske.
At 8 p.m., Eastside plays the Crew at WWCC and Pullman takes on Washington FCA at Borleske.
On Friday, 11 a.m. games include Hanford vs. the Blue Devils at WWCC and the Northstars vs. the Outlaws at Borleske.
At 1:45 p.m., the Rush play Hanford at WWCC and the Outlaws face Caldwell at Borleske.
Joining the Bears-Pullman matchup at 4:30 p.m. at WWCC are the Twins playing Eastside at Borleske.
The Crew play the Twins at Borleske in the other 7:15 p.m. matchup, along with the Bears facing Washington FCA at WWCC to wrap up round robin play.
On Saturday, games begin at 9 a.m. at WWCC and Borleske in bracket play.
Games continue at WWCC, Borleske and Murr field at 11:45 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 5:15 p.m., and a bracket semifinal wraps up Saturday’s play at WWCC at 8 p.m.
On Sunday, play on all three fields begins at 10:15 a.m. followed by final games at 1 p.m.
The tournament championship is slated for Borleske Stadium at 1 p.m.