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June 24, 2009 > WSLL Minor Twins sweep to championship

WSLL Minor Twins sweep to championship

Submitted By Kevin Sullivan

Warm Springs Little League (WSLL) Minor Twins capped the 2009 spring season by going undefeated through the end of season tournament and winning the Tournament of Champions for the WSLL Minors division.

Having ended the regular season with an .850 win percentage and a record of 16-2-2, the Twins played their best baseball down the stretch, losing only one game in the past two months, and swept to the championship title.

The Twins advanced to the finals after a thrilling 7-6, extra-inning win over the top-seeded Cardinals on Saturday, June 13.

With Twins' pitching ace, Tim Stevenson, not available to pitch after a strong
performance in the semifinals, Nathaniel Sullivan got the starting nod in the Wednesday, June 17, championship game. The stands were packed on both sides as Sullivan got off to a great start, striking out the side in the top of the 1st inning. The rally cry of "Let's Go Twins" rang out from the fans as the Twins edged out to a 1-0 lead at the end of the first inning.

The Twins extended their lead to 4-0 in the third inning, powered by back-to-back doubles by Hassan Shamsi and Chris Docena. The Yankees countered with a run in the top of the 4th inning to narrow the lead to 4-1, but the Twins responded with two runs in the fifth led by consecutive hits by Jake Doty, Sullivan, Shamsi and Docena.

Defense and pitching dominated the championship game. Sullivan lasted five innings with nine strikeouts (both season highs) and allowed only one run to set the stage for victory.

Doty came in for the final inning from the bullpen and struck out the last two batters to stifle a Yankees rally and seal the victory for the second consecutive game. Doty was moved into the bullpen after first playoff game closer, Oliver Sullivan, suffered a season-ending injury during the week.

The Yankees had a great run through the tournament, including ousting the top seed; they were a well-managed and worthy opponent who battled to the end with power hitting, efficient pitching and exceptional defense.

The 2009 Minor Twins championship season was characterized by team-based accomplishments from start to finish. The team had the league's stingiest defense and a high-powered offense that averaged over 10 runs per game, with every player scoring double digits in runs for the season. Fueled by seven, first-year Minors players, including Daniel Diaz, Rohan Hajela, Shane Rhodes and Garrett Zieske, the Twins were undefeated in interleague play, and the only team to have beaten every other team during the season.

All four second-year Minors players - Stevenson, Nathaniel Sullivan, Austin Ferguson and Docena - were selected to represent Warm Springs in the 9/10 District 14 All-Star Tournament.

Enabled by a supportive parent volunteer base, coaches Mike Zieske and Marc Ferguson partnered with Manager Kevin Sullivan to mold an undersized but determined team that exceeded expectations on its way to the championship. Having advanced to the District 14 Minor Invitational, the Twins were narrowly defeated 9-7 by Newark American in the first round of the District 14 Tournament of Champions, bringing an end to their magical season.

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