The Whatcom Americans’ fantastic run has come to an end. The 12U Cal Ripken baseball team fell to Massachusetts 11-9 on Wednesday, Aug. 12, in Monticello, Ark., in the quarterfinal of the Cal Ripken World Series.
“We want to thank the community for their unheralded support and hope we didn’t disappoint them,” coach Hank Schwarz said in a phone interview. “We’re going to come back with our heads held high and hopefully get them next year.”
After dominating opponents for the first four games of the tournament, the Americans got in an unexpected 4-0 hole as the good hitting New England team jumped on Kobe Sandstrom in the top of the first inning.
“I told the boys ‘That’s the top of the first; we got six innings to get four runs. Let’s get a couple right now and go off that,’” Schwarz said.
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The Americans responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning before Jacob Kaepernick’s three-run homer made it 6-4 and the Americans eventually led 9-4 after three innings. Sandstrom also calmed down on the mound, holding the opponent scoreless in the second and third innings.
In the fifth inning, though, the tides changed with a swing of the bat. Trent Miller, who came on in relief, took a line drive off the knee and went down. The ambulance was called and Miller was taken to the hospital, where he was later diagnosed with a deep bone bruise.
“It was a 15-minute delay and we had to figure out who to put on the mound next. It was a little bit of chaos,” Schwarz said. “We went with Kaepernick, who the other day pitched four innings of shutout ball.”
But the short notice for Kaepernick led to a big inning for Massachusetts, who made it 9-7 before hitting a grand slam to put it at 11-9. The Americans couldn’t rally in the final two innings to respond.
“We had it in control. I truly believe if Trent would have stayed in the game, we would have won the game, but that’s baseball. That kind of stuff happens,” Schwarz said. “The boys were pretty heartbroken and devastated.”
The Americans team consists of 13 players — Kobe Sandstrom, Carson Peters, Aidan Roddel, Greg Roberts, Kyler Fleming, Slater Whitaker, Ryan Pelton, Kyle Turnburg, Garner Christensen, Jacob Kaepernick, Bryce Pennock, Reid Fryer, Trent Miller and Garret Kamkoff. They are coached by Hank Schwarz, Damon Miller and Andy Pelton.