SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Pacific Little League coach Joe Webster believed in his team to the very end — even as it faced a four-run deficit with one out in the sixth inning Sunday.
Then, in an instant, it was over as West Seattle turned an around-the-horn double play to end the game and claim the Washington State Little League championship and accompanying regional berth with an 8-4 victory at Tesarik Field.
“We’re not quitters,” said Webster, who was the long-time varsity coach at Edmonds-Woodway High School. “You don’t get this far if you’re a quitter. You’d have gotten beat a long time ago.”
Pacific, based in Lynnwood, entered Saturday’s first state championship game unbeaten. West Seattle beat Pacific 7-6 on Saturday to force Sunday’s winner-take-all game. Pacific previously defeated West Seattle 8-4 on Thursday.
The Pacific program was looking for its fifth regional berth and first berth since 2016. Pacific reached the Little League World Series in 2014.
“The biggest disappointment for me is that we don’t get to spend any more time together,” Webster said. “It was such a great group of kids. I’d take any one of them into my home if I had to. They’re just outstanding kids, and I was looking forward to spending the summer with them.”
West Seattle only scored in two different innings Sunday, but put up crooked numbers both times.
The team struck in the second inning when West Seattle loaded the bases against Pacific starter Jackson Bonnar with no outs thanks to a pair of singles and an infield error. Bonnar walked Joe Sherick to force in Wyatt Glover for the first run, and Eli Palmer scored from second base on the play as West Seattle caught Pacific napping. Tristan Buehring followed with a three-run home run to center field, and suddenly Pacific was facing a 5-0 deficit.
Pacific chipped away. Adam Alharbi hit a one-out solo home run in the third, and Diego Escandon reached on an error and later scored on a wild pitch as Pacific cut the deficit to 5-2. However, the team left two runners stranded.
Anthony Puckett singled with two outs in the fourth and came home on an error to cut Pacific’s deficit to 5-3, and Caden Kennelly’s leadoff home run in the fifth trimmed West Seattle’s lead to one, but once again Pacific stranded two runners in the inning as the team finished with seven left on base in the contest.
“It just felt like one of those games where when they hit the ball hard they found a hole and when we hit it hard it found a glove,” Webster said. “Credit to them for catching it when we hit it to them, but the last two days we haven’t been able to get that big hit with runners in scoring position that we’ve been getting all year long.”
Bonnar went four-plus innings before reaching his 85-pitch limit and struck out 11 while allowing five hits. He exited in the bottom of the fifth after allowing a leadoff single to Matthew Henning. Caden Fahy then greeted reliever Alharbi with a single.
Alharbi got the next two outs and appeared on the verge of working out of trouble with the 5-4 deficit intact, but Palmer connected for a run-scoring double and Matt Hazlegrove followed with a run-scoring single as West Seattle’s lead swelled to 8-4.
“Even in (the second and fifth innings) I felt like we made some decent pitches, and they just hit them,” Webster said. “(That’s) a credit to them as much as anything. We didn’t walk a lot of people or kick the ball around a lot or anything like that. That’s elimination baseball — you get a couple big hits early or late and that’s usually the difference.”
Alharbi worked a one-out walk in the sixth, but Escandon followed by hitting into the game-ending double play.
Alharbi was on base three times, including his home run, and Kennelly was 2-for-2 with a walk and a home run.