EPHRATA — Tiebreakers. In tournament action they have the ability to make or break a team’s chances of winning a tournament. After putting forth a 3-0 record in pool play with victories against Umatilla, Columbia Basin Riverdogs and Missoula, Mont., things were looking bright for manager Brent Stenman’s North Kitsap squad.
Until it suffered their first defeat of the tourney during a 7-2 loss against Ryder Showtime of Vancouver.
The loss put North, Ryder Showtime and the Columbia Basin Riverdogs in a three-way tie for first place atop the American Division of the regional tournament. Each team finished with a record of 3-1.
Since each of the three teams compiled a 3-1 overall record and a 1-1 record against each other, another tiebreaker was needed to decide which two teams would move on to the semi-final round.
“It came down to who allowed the least amount of total runs in the games between our teams. We allowed 11 total runs and Columbia Basin and Ryder both allowed just six total runs in those games,” Stenman said. “We were the team that lost out on the tiebreaker. They gave up less runs than us.”
Ryder Showtime and Columbia Basin advanced to the semi-finals as North was eliminated from the tournament Sunday afternoon.
Stenman said his team knew it pretty much had to win its fourth game of the tourney against Ryder Showtime to secure a berth in the regional semi-final contest.
“We figured going into that game that we had to win to get in,” he said. “Our team was pretty disappointed that we lost.”
Ryder Showtime saved their top pitchers for the game against North, Stenman said.
“It was a calculated gamble on their part and it worked. Last year at the 16-year-old tournament we beat them in pool play and we beat them in the finals,” he said. “So they threw their top two pitchers in the game against us.”
The high point of the tourney for North was its 6-4 victory against Columbia Basin in pool play.
“Going in, we thought they were the best team in the tournament,” Stenman said. “Kelly Wells threw a complete game and allowed only four runs.”
Stenman said his team celebrated the victory like they had won the World Series.
“It was a huge win for us. The kids stormed out of the dugout and onto the field to celebrate after the win,” he said. “Everyone was pretty excited. I don’t think Columbia Basin expected to lose. It was a fun game.”
Stenman praised center-fielder James Smith and second baseman Tyler Seth for their stellar performances at regionals.
“They both played pretty well,” he said. “They probably had the best performances of anyone on the team both offensively and defensively during the tournament.”
Despite not advancing to the World Series for the third time in four years, Stenman said he was proud of his team’s performance.
“They have nothing to hang their heads about,” he said. “This is the fourth year in a row we have gone to regionals. We went to the World Series in two of those years so our team has had pretty high expectations. We have been a good team for a long time.”
Team chemistry was a major reason why North performed brilliantly during summer ball, Stenman said.
“It’s a great group of kids. It takes more than talent to win,” he said. “We had good team chemistry and it paid off. A group of kids like this only comes along once in a while.”