“It really was an amazing experience and something the kids will never forget being a part of,” said Saints Head Coach Wayne Kennedy, who guided the team to four tournament titles and a 29-2 record this year. “We couldn’t be prouder of them and what they were able to accomplish.”
The team includes Lincoln Berg, Jake Carlson, Luke Everson, Tucker Kemph, Jaylen Kennedy, Rudy Larson, Eddie Marsden, Ethan Mathis, Deacon Meller, Tanner Millspaugh, Jacob Nadeau, Blake Ostrander, Zion Robertson, Derek Thompson and Eastin Wright.
The Saints proved their mettle throughout the tournament, but never was it more on display than during the championship games of the double-elimination tournament.
During the winner’s bracket finals Thurston County overcame an early seven-run deficit before besting the North Texas Bulls, 11-7, to secure a spot in the title contest.
Trailing 7-0 midway through the second inning, the Saints got an RBI single from Jaylen Kennedy in the bottom half of the inning before scoring five times in the third with Evenson, Mathis and Meller all driving in runs. Thurston County added runs in both the fourth and fifth and three runs in the sixth with Berg and Jaylen Kennedy both connecting on three hits.
The Saints faced North Texas in the finals after the Bulls rebounded from their earlier setback to Thurston County by navigating through the loser’s bracket. North Texas once again jumped out to an early advantage, leading 7-2, before the Saints rallied to win, 8-7.
“It didn’t matter what situation was thrown at them. Nothing got to them. Every time something happened, they just stayed focused and went out there and executed,” Wayne Kennedy said. “There was a moment in the dugout between innings (early in the tournament) where they all got very serious and just flipped the switch.”
The Saints opened their run towards the title by defeating Colorado Majestic Baseball Hanson, 14-12, in the first game of pool play on July 21. Thurston County led, 5-0, midway through the third inning with Wright beginning the offensive onslaught was a sacrifice fly in the first. Thurston County sealed the game after pushing nine runs across home plate in the top of the fifth. Nadeau and Ostrander each had two hits in the victory.
The Saints’ bats continued to stay hot in the following game as the team drubbed the Texas Drillers, 16-3. Thurston County scored four runs in both the first and second innings, two in the third and six in the fourth during the shortened four-inning contest.
An Ostrander RBI single in the first got things rolling for the Saints before Jaylen Kennedy, Thompson, Meller, Mathis and Millspaugh all drove in runs in the team’s big fourth inning. Larson picked up the win, giving up three runs on three hits over two innings of work, while Robertson tossed two scoreless innings in relief.
The third game was more of the same from the Saints’ offense as they continued to tally early runs en route to a win. This time the squad scored twice in the first inning before putting away Colorado Classic Play Ball, 9-2, to complete a perfect three-game sweep of pool play.
Berg, who went 2 for 3, notched the win, allowing no hits while striking out four in two innings of work. The lefthander helped his own cause by driving in a run in Thurston County’s four-run third with Jaylen Kennedy, Everson and Larson each registering an RBI.
Larson smacked a two-run homerun in the bottom of the sixth to power the Saints to a 6-3 victory over Nor Cal Valley in the first round of the double-elimination tournament. Larson, an incoming freshman at North Thurston High School, broke up a 3-3 tie with his blast which came on an 0-2 count.
Trailing 3-2 in the game, the Saints knotted things up on a sacrifice fly from Meller. Jaylen Kennedy and Thompson both had two hits with Nadeau receiving the win after allowing five hits and three runs over six innings.
During Thurston County’s 10-6 semifinal triumph over Co Steel, the Saints posted their second nine-run inning of the tournament with a nine-run fifth. The big offensive inning helped Thurston County overcome a 3-1 deficit. Meller paced the Saints’ hitting with a pair of hits, while the team failed to commit an error.
The team because the third World Series Champions in the 12-year history of the TC Saints, joining the 2012 squad which won the World Series Championship in San Diego, California, and the 2014 team, which captured the 14U USABF World Series.