PORT ANGELES — Earlier this year, the North Kitsap 14-year-old Babe Ruth team was in a must-win game, and Ryan Anderson was a toelength out of play.
The North Kitsap team was facing Olympic to win the district tournament and Anderson, the first baseman, had tracked a fly ball over to the edge of the field, then crooked his toes against a concrete wall to steady himself.
But as the ball dropped, Anderson remembered that the wall was considered out of play — so he hopped backwards before making the catch, preserving the out.
Later, manager Mike Martin said, “That was the smartest play I’ve seen all tournament.”
But it’s been a tournament full of smart plays for the North Kitsap team, which beat Olympic twice, rising up through the loser’s bracket to win the district championship.
The team lost its first game to Olympic Saturday morning, when it had a seven-run inning that led to a 10-7 loss.
“We were just off Saturday morning,” said second baseman Dustin Brown.
But North Kitsap battled back in the three-team tournament, first eliminating Sequim 10-0, then taking two in a row against Olympic on the last day of the tournament, 7-2 and 6-3.
In those games, the team got to show off its pride and joy: its offense.
“This team can hit. It puts the ball in play,” said Martin, and the team proved it, as Kyle Sizemore went 5-for-7 in the two games with a triple, and Jordan Prince went 5-for-7 as well.
Martin credits the hitting to the team’s talent, as well as the hours of practice put in swinging at everything — wiffle balls, tennis balls, and baseballs — in order to get the bats hot.
He also gives credit to assistant coaches Will Martin and Bim Prince.
The team will begin the state tournament in Naches, near Yakima, on Friday morning at 9 a.m.
The team includes Brown, Sizemore, Prince, Anderson, Jerrell Smith, Seth Williams, John Lawrence, Evan Donald, Brett Whitman, Eric Vettleson, Micah Drury, Eric Finlon, John Williams, Jacob Rose, and Jason Freiboth.