One Little League team heads to state

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Though both the 8- to 11-year-old and the 11- to 12-year-old All-Stars teams played in the Little League District Championships Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it would be only the younger team who would win their championship, and gain entrance into the state championship in Denver.

Until last weekend, the 8- to 10-year-old All-Stars had won all three of their tournament games by the 10-run mercy rule, allowing them to qualify for Saturday's District Championship .

The double-elimination tournament ended up working in the All-Star's favor, after they lost their first game in the championship round.

The All-Stars entered Saturday's game with neither their bats nor pitching alive, vaguely resembling the team that won all of their previous games by the mercy rule.

The championship game pitted the All-Stars against Rocky Mountain, from Idaho Springs, who capitalized on the All-Star's sub-par performance, opening up a 5-0 lead in the first inning.

Rocky Mountain would not look back, opening the margin to 10-3, and putting the championship back another game.

"I think the kids heard the word 'championship', and they tightened up for the game," All-Star coach Buddy Grinstead said. "That was definitely not the team that we had playing early this tournament."

On Sunday, the championship came down to one day and one game, to decide who was going to be the Little League District Champions, and get their shot at traveling to Denver.

With the All-Stars in a more relaxed frame of mind, the boys were able to keep the game close, and take it into extra innings.

In the early innings, Jake Satterwhite's solid pitching was the key to keeping the game close. It would be Billy Ivey, though, whose pitching would close the game from the fourth inning on.

In the top of the sixth, with the game tied 3-3, the All-Stars were able to force two extra innings.

At the top of the eighth, Andy Drake scored the first run off a Bryan Rhodes line drive to right field.

Josh Grinstead was the next runner to cross homeplate, scoring off two Rocky Mountain throwing errors.

Finally, Rhodes scored off of a rash of passed balls, opening a 6-3 lead that the team would not relinquish.

"The boys were a little more relaxed coming into this game because they knew they had to win," Grinstead said. "The boys just buckled down, and got themselves to state."

The 11- to 12-year-old All-Star team rolled through its all of their competition as well except for one team, Meeker.

Meeker ended the All-Star's tournament-winning streak of two games, putting Craig into the loser's bracket.

The All-Stars still made it to Friday's championship game, but would have the Meeker team once again.

After a hard-fought battle, the All-Stars were able to tie the game at 13-13 in the sixth inning, only to have Meeker score a run in the bottom of the inning to win the game.

"The game was well played by both teams, they both really wanted it," 11- to 12-year-old All Star coach Shane Camilletti said. "But that's the way baseball goes you win some, you lose some."

The only All-Star team not to make the finals was the 13- to-14 year-old age group, who went 1-2 in the tournament. The two losses by the team were the only two they suffered all season, ending any hope of moving onto the state tournament.

"The guys were pretty upset about the losses," 13- to-14 year-old All Star coach Kurt Sorensen said. "We came into the tournament as the team to beat since we were undefeated up until then. The other teams, though, were ready for us."

On Saturday, the 13- to-14 year-old All-Stars started the tournament, held in Steamboat Springs, with a 6-2 loss at the hands of Platt Canyon.

They redeemed themselves, though, in Sunday's game with a 17-4 win over Skyline. The win was overshadowed on Monday, as they dropped a match-up with Grand County by a score of 10-6.

"We beat all of those teams earlier in the season, but as I said, they were ready for us this time," Sorensen said. "That's the way baseball goes, you win all season, and then you come to the point where it's your turn to get beat.

"I just wish the losses would have come in the regular season."

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