Rainiers compete in southwest Washington tourney</p><p>

Rainier District Little League's 10-11 all-star team took its show on the road this past weekend, traveling to southwest Washington to compete in the Napavine Funtime Festival Invitational Baseball Tournament. The team played solidly throughout the weekend, finishing the tournament with three wins and two losses en route to a fourth place finish.

The Napavine tournament, just south of Chehalis, drew teams from around the southwestern portion of the state. Rainier District Little League, traveling under its moniker The Seattle Rainiers, was the only team to participate in the tournament from outside that area. This year's tournament featured hot weather and a dry, dusty field that kept play interesting.

Day one

In game one of the tournament, played Saturday at noon, the Rainiers took on an all-star team from Toledo, WA, and prevailed in a hard-fought contest (5-4) behind the pitching of Janak Preston and Montique Jenkins Jr. Seattle jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning, but Toledo came back and closed within a run at 3-2. The Rainiers tacked on two more runs in the last inning, capped by a run-scoring single down the left-field line by Henry Jacobson, to take a 5-2 lead. This proved to be just enough, as Jenkins worked his way out of a jam in the final frame to nail down his first save of the tournament.

In game number two, against a Chehalis all-star squad, the Rainiers again jumped out to a quick lead, this time on a three-run home run by Jenkins in the top of the first. Chehalis responded with five runs of its own in the bottom of the first to take a 5-3 lead.

Jamie Orme came on to pitch for Seattle, and exhibited fine control, mowing down one Chehalis batter after another. The Rainiers responded to Orme's pitching with a five-run inning of its own, to regain control of the game, 8-5. Preston came on in the final inning to earn the save, aided by a nifty double play by Jenkins, who snared a line drive at shortstop and then threw to first to double-off a Chehalis runner.

Game three turned out to be a pivotal affair for the local team, and the most exciting game of the tournament. Travis Logan started the game for Seattle against the same Toledo team it had beaten earlier in the series. Logan proved dominant as the Rainiers took a 2-0 lead at the game's midway point. Toledo fought back to take a 4-2 lead, but pitcher Deion Lam was able to work out of several tight spots and keep the deficit at two heading into the final inning. Things looked bleak for the locals until Dillon Yamamoto tripled in a run to make it 4-3, bringing up Chelon McLennan with two outs and the tying run on third. McLennan, who had been rapping the ball with authority throughout the day, singled hard into right field to tie the game and send the contest into extra innings. That was as close as Seattle could come, however, as Toledo scored in the top of the seventh and held on for the victory.

Day two

Three games in one afternoon under a relentless sun left the Rainiers tired and thirsty, and the players headed to their hotel rooms for some rest and recuperation (with a few hardy families traveling back to Seattle for the night). Somewhat rejuvenated by an all-too-brief night's sleep, the local all-stars headed back to Napavine field for further play on Sunday.

In the first game that day, the Rainiers found themselves locked in a pitcher's duel with Chehalis, but Seattle hurler Nils Whisman was up to the part, holding Chehalis scoreless for three innings. Jamie Orme turned in a couple fine plays at third base to aid in the Rainiers' cause, but the game still stood 0-0 heading into the fourth inning.

In the top of the fourth, Preston came on to pitch for Seattle. An errant throw on a bunt threatened to bring home the opponent's first run, however Whisman, now playing centerfield, nailed the Chehalis runner at the plate on a relay throw to keep the game scoreless. Seattle was finally able to tally three runs in the bottom of the fourth, and Preston pitched a scoreless fifth to seal the victory.

The Rainiers' title hopes came to an end in the fifth game of the tourney, against an all-star squad from Onalaska Seattle made several fine plays in the field, including ones by Winter Tumbaga, Jenkins and Orme, but a couple miscues led to several unearned Onalaska runs. The Rainiers threatened to score a number of times, but fine plays by their opponents' fielders quashed all of the Rainiers' rallies. The game ended with two Seattle runners in scoring position when Orme's long line drive to centerfield was caught. Logan and Whisman again pitched valiantly for the Rainiers, but Onalaska was too much, and took the game 5-0.

Great experience

In all, the Napavine tournament proved to be a great learning experience for players and coaches alike. The tournament represented an opportunity for Rainier Valley youths to escape the Seattle metropolitan area and interact with children and adults from a more rural environ.

The Rainiers were comprised of the following players: Winter Tumbaga, Janak Preston, Dillon Yamamoto, Travis Logan, Nils Whisman, Chelon McLennan, Henry Jacobson, Jamie Orme, Deion Lam, Montique Jenkins Jr., as well as newcomers Ian McManus and Peter Cormier (who terrorized opposing catchers on the base paths with their customary bursts of speed and picture-perfect slides).

In other recent Rainier all-star competition, the league's 9-10 team, led by coach Martin Beavers, took first place in the Tibbets Invitation All Star Tournament, and third place in the Fourth of July Blast Tournament in Tacoma (out of 16 teams).

Lee Jacobson may be reached via editor@sdistrictjournal.com.[[In-content Ad]]