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Islander 11 year olds take second in Arizona
The Islanders, a baseball team made up of players all 11 years old, with seven players from Mercer Island, as well as Bellevue and Renton, battled to the AL Championship game during a recent Easter Super Series Baseball Tournament in Glendale, Ariz. The tournament draws top-ranked select teams from Arizona, California, Texas, Alaska and Washington.
The team, coached by Island residents George Holstead, Michael Snell, pitching coach John Demeyere (Renton) and assistant coach Aaron Pollock (Bellevue), lost in the championship game to the Arizona Heat.
``Last year we went down as 10 year olds and it was a rough go,'' said Holstead. ``It was our first venture into an out-of-state tournament against teams that play tournaments virtually year-round. We really didn't know what to expect.''
The Islanders, who played another game that day defeating the Litchfield Tigers 17-6, ran out of gas in the Arizona desert sun and fell to the Heat in the final. The Islanders defeated the Heat earlier that morning 11-7. The Heat was a top-ranked Arizona team coming into the tournament
The most exciting game for the Islanders came against the Tigers. There were several lead changes early in the game but it was broken wide open with home runs by Cameron Ogard and David Oppenheim of Mercer Island.
The team was led on the mound by Garrett Demeyere with eight strong innings, Aaron ``Sandy'' Sandifur with four innings. Austin Nutt, Sammy Mildeberger and Ryan Pollock also worked on the mound during the contest.
The Islanders were led at the plate by Nutt, who had six hits. Mildeberger collected five hits, including a double, and Quinn Snell and Nick Holstead had four hits each. Aaron Hanan of Mercer Island came up big in the first Heat game with a critical base hit and 2 RBI's. Peter Clarke of Mercer Island made several big plays in center field. During the Tigers game Clarke had 2 hits, 1 RBI and 3 runs scored.
``We didn't have much of an opportunity in January, February and March to get outside and play games against live pitching, due to the poor weather and lack of large indoor practice facilities,'' said coach Holstead. ``Our first game last year was at 1 p.m. and it was 96 degrees on the field ? it was 45 degrees in Seattle when we left.''
The Islanders are currently 6-0 this year in the Bellevue 11-year-old and 12-year-old Pony Baseball League.