Mariners cap perfect season with Babe Ruth championship
Their mothers and fathers probably know differently, but never have a group of South Lake Tahoe young men been as perfect as the Mariners.
The Mariners of South Tahoe’s Babe Ruth League capped what is believed to be the first perfect season with a 12-9 championship win over the A’s last Thursday.
While scoring an average of 19 runs per contest and surrendering four, the Mariners compiled an unblemished 20-0 record.
“I’ve played baseball all my life and played on a lot of good teams and championship teams, but I’ve never gone undefeated,” said Dan Hannum, who has managed the Mariners for the past three years.
“I don’t think a lot of people out there can say they went undefeated. For them to do that, it takes a lot of concentration and the pressure, whether they feel it or not, it’s just there.”
A’s manager Greg Tucker concurred.
“In Babe Ruth that is quite a feat. You won’t see that happen in a while,”
said Tucker, who was a first-year manager after assisting the previous four seasons. “They seemed to avoid the (big inning) all year long. They were a very well-disciplined team, very well coached and you knew they were always going to hit the ball.”
The A’s, who eliminated the two-time reigning regular-season champion Mariners in the first round of the playoffs a year ago, nearly spoiled the perfect campaign in the championship.
Tyler Tucker’s two-run single in the third inning helped stake the A’s to a 5-1 lead.
However, the Mariners came right back in their half of the third, scoring five runs on six hits.
“We knew we had a shot of winning the league championship, but we knew to do that we had to be supportive of each other and not get down when we mess up,” Hannum said.
During the comeback, John Capitani belted a two-run inside-the-park homer and Chris Hannum smashed a run-scoring double. Nick Alexander also hit an RBI double.
Ryan Cullen of the A’s doubled and scored to forge a 6-6 tie in the fourth inning and Adam McGuckin’s double and Tucker’s single helped produce the A’s go-ahead run in the fifth.
But the Mariners scored two unearned runs to retake the lead, 8-7, and then got some breathing room in the sixth as Hannum cracked a two-run double with the bases loaded.
“The A’s are a very good ball club, too. I thought it was pretty amazing that they were able to go to the championship two years in a row. That doesn’t happen often, either,” Dan Hannum said.
Hannum pitched the distance, striking out six and scattering 15 hits. Hannum, Matt Olsen, Mike Hennessy and Nick Alexander each had two hits for the Mariners, while the A’s Tucker, Anthony Miranda and Hunter Thomas spanked three hits.
The game ball, however, went to a defensive player. Tyler Shewbert, a 13-year-old who was picked off first base at a crucial time early in the game, came through with the defensive play of the game when he ran down a deep drive in right field with runners on first and second bases with the outcome in the balance.
Some Babe Ruth observers claimed Hannum had a stacked team, but it was one he developed for three years.
“When we drafted that team our tallest player was 5-4. They were all a bunch of Little-Leaguers, so we took our thumpings that first year, losing 28-3 and getting shut out a couple of times. We tried to make it fun for the kids and it didn’t matter if we lost,” Hannum said.
In first-round playoff action, the Cardinals pounded the Marlins 22-7 behind Ryan Griffith’s two homers and seven RBIs; and Jarred Uppendahl tossed a three-hitter and fanned 10 and Jake Bobman and Steven Gerken lined three hits as the Yankees pummeled the Pirates 12-3.
Miranda propelled the A’s into the championship by collecting four hits, three RBIs and three runs in a 10-7 semifinal win over the Cardinals. In the other semifinal, the Mariners got a three-run double from Hannum and four hits by Olsen in an 11-3 triumph over the Yankees.
Hannum concluded the season with a .712 batting average and more than 70 RBIs. Olsen hit in excess of .600.
Eight of the Mariners were selected to all-star teams, including Hannum, Olsen, Hennessy, Alexander, Capitani, Jonathan Coats, Nick Lefteroff and Hudson Wilvers.
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