Buoyed by Braden Olmstead’s stellar pitching in long relief but trailing by a run in extra innings, the Knik Little League team of 10-12 year olds rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday night to win at the Little League Northwest Regional in San Bernardino, California.
Christian Cambridge’s single with one out plated Justin Nevells with the winning run that delivered Knik a 6-5 victory over Montana in a baseball game scheduled for six innings.
Meanwhile, the combined Little League Junior Softball team of 12-14 year olds from Nunaka Valley, City View and Polar Little Leagues fell 3-2 to Sunnyside (Arizona) at the Western Regional in Tucson, Arizona, but remain alive in the double-elimination tournament.
With Knik trailing 5-4 in the eighth, Braden Shackelford started Alaska’s rally with a single. Devon Wesolowski pinch-ran for Shackelford and advanced to third base on Nevells’ single. Riley Fugere’s single scored Wesolowski with the tying run before Cambridge ended the game with his single to center field.
Olmstead came on in relief in the first inning, when Montana, represented by the Boulder Arrowhead Little League, scored four runs.
Olmstead went 6-plus innings, scattered six hits, struck out eight and only walked one batter. That walk of Montana’s lead-off batter in the top of the eighth and put Olmstead at 84 pitches, one shy of the mandated limit for pitches in a single day by a Little League pitcher. Montana scored off reliever Ian Frizzele, with the run credited against Olmstead. Frizzele got the win thanks to his teammates’ rally.
Cambridge drove in two runs and scored two, and Knik also received an RBI each from Fugere, Jacob Kosinski, Ryan Gray and Frizzele.
Knik, 3-1 in the six-team tournament, advanced to a semifinal Thursday at 1 p.m. ADT against Bend North of Oregon. Bend (3-1) beat Knik, 10-2, on Monday.
Despite Daisy Page’s strong pitching, the combined softball team from Nunaka, City View and Polar Little Leagues lost for the first time in Arizona. The Alaskans won their first two games in the double-elimination tournament by the mercy rule. Wednesday, they lost when they surrendered a run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Alaska led 2-0 through three innings.
The Alaskans on Thursday face Fontana of Southern California, in an elimination game at 5:30 p.m. ADT.