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Youth sports notebook: Two Spokane 12U baseball teams enjoy ‘lifetime experience’ in Cooperstown

Aug. 16, 2022 Updated Tue., Aug. 16, 2022 at 7:25 p.m.

By Chuck Stewart The Spokesman-Review

A dream come true. Make that dreams. Plural. As in 24 dreams.

When two Spokane 12U boys baseball teams cashed in “golden tickets,” it meant all the players on their rosters would participate in the 2022 Cooperstown Dreams Park Tournament that was launched in 1996 in the birthplace of baseball in central New York State specifically for players 12 and under.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Sandy Margulis, whose son, Toby, plays for the 509 Outlaws.

Teams that play in the tournament are given a golden ticket they can “gift” to a younger team in their community, ensuring a spot in a future Dreams Park Tournament. The 509 Outlaws got their golden ticket from the Spokane Musketeers, who played in the 2019 tournament.

The Spokane Clash, also in the 88-team tournament Aug. 3-8, got their ticket from a previous Clash team, also coached by present-day head coach Cole Hockett, that was in Cooperstown in 2015.

“It is definitely a trip that will last a lifetime for these boys,” Hockett said.

Both teams began dreaming of the experience with golden tickets in hand.

“They fund-raised for more than a year and have planned on this, really, since they were 4 of 5 playing coach-pitch,” Hockett said.

Steve Jeffries, head coach of the 509 Outlaws, said his players were fund-raising for two years. Recent previous teams had their dreams crushed by the coronavirus pandemic that forced cancellation of the 2020 Dreams Park Tournament and reduced the 2021 edition to three limited weekends.

“The pandemic put everything on hold,” Jeffries said.

“The competition is there; there are some really good teams,” he said, “but the baseball is like a sideshow to everything else.”

There’s pin-trading, Wiffle ball and a lot of just plain socializing and making new friends. Jeffries said an older son, who played on the 2019 Musketeers, still communicates with a friend he made in New York.

And, oh, yeah, living six days in barrack-like dorms in high humidity and 85-plus degree temperatures with no air conditioning.

On the field, at the end of games, the traditional “hand-shake line” has been replaced by a hug line, Jeffries noted.

“In a lot of games during the season, you’ll have kids avoid the line for whatever reason,” Jeffries said. “But not there. Everyone goes through the line and everyone hugs. It’s just cool.”

The 509 Outlaws compiled a 2-3 record in pool play, including an extra-inning loss to the team that finished second, and was seeded No. 49 going into bracket play. They won their first three games before being knocked out in the round of 24 by the No. 8 seed in extra innings and finished the season 43-16.

“We had other teams come to watch our games as we kept winning,” Jeffries said. “We started to become the talk of the tournament.”

“On the last day of games, the boys played four games, four uniform changes. That was very interesting,” said Margulis, offering a mother’s perspective.

Outlaws players hit 23 home runs, including the first for Cole Jeffries.

509 Outlaws players: Jackson Hatchitt (Moran Prairie Elementary), Cole Jeffries (Mullan Road Elementary), Decker Housel (Moran Prairie), Holt Dissmore (Moran Prairie), Colton Smith (Franklin Elementary), Cole Floyd (Freeman), Caden Inderrieden (Colfax), Hewson Spencer (Moscow), Hudson Kirkland (Troy, Idaho), Carsen Johnson (Lincoln Heights Elementary), Toby Margulis (Bryant/TEC), Tanner Spradling (home school), Max Wolfe (Cataldo). Coaches: Steve Jeffries, Derek Hatchitt, Blake Housel.

Clash went 4-1 in pool play to earn the No. 17 seed and won its first three bracket games, finishing with a 7-2 tournament record and top-16 finish. “Overall, everyone played great,” Hockett said of the players who compiled a 51-15 season record.

“We lost a 5-3 nail-biter in extra innings to the team that won the tournament,” Hockett said of the setback that knocked them out of the tournament one win away from the quarterfinals. “We gave them quite a scare.”

Hockett’s son, Cameron, who pitched seven innings in the final game, had a busy week.

Picked for the 11U Perfect Game Select Festival in Atlanta the same week, he spent three days in Cooperstown, then drove two hours to fly to Atlanta for the Perfect Game event.

There, he went 1 for 3 at the plate playing the outfield and pitched one inning, striking out three without allowing a run, for a West team that lost in the last inning.

That put him back on a plane to Syracuse for the two-hour drive to Cooperstown, where he was able to grab five hours of sleep before taking the ball to pitch against the No. 1 seed. Two wins, by 11-1 and 10-1 margins after getting by Clash, made Cal Truth the Cooperstown champion.

Spokane Clash players: Caden Pugh (Northwood Middle School), Charlie Ramirez (Northwood), Matthew Osborne (Northwood), Cameron Hockett (Mountainside MS), Matthew Busch (Mountainside), Zander Zandt (Mountainside), Tavish Carruthers (St. Thomas More), Landon Bennett (Mountainside), Jaxon Blevins (Sacajawea MS), Kacin Arndt (Salk MS), Connor Fritz (Lake Spokane Elementary). Coaches: Cole Hockett, Ken Arndt, Kevin Busch, Jordan Hockett.

Golf

Spokane entries came away with three of the top four spots in the boys 13-14 division at the 2022 Idaho Junior Amateur Aug. 8-10 at RedHawk Golf Club in Nampa.

Ben Barrett, with an 8-under-par 205 for 54 holes, and Teigen Brill, with a 206, went 1-2, and Justin Krasselt took fourth at 211. Brill had finished second and Barrett tied for ninth in the Washington boys’ 14-15 division and Krasselt was third in Washington 12-13.

Stephen Paul (Osburn, Idaho), second in the Washington 16-18 division, was the top area scorer in Idaho boys 15-18, placing ninth at 3-over 216 for 54 holes.

In Idaho boys 10-12, Hunter Paquin (Hayden) and Jack Bafus (Liberty Lake) matched 3-over-par 75s in the 18-hole tournament, but were placed fifth and sixth, respectively, on the leaderboard.

Ella Wilson (Hayden) duplicated her championship in the youngest girls division in Washington by winning Idaho’s youngest, girls 10-12, with 8-over 80 for 18 holes.

Melia Cerenzia (Spokane), the only area golfer in Idaho girls 13-14, finished second with 14-over 227 after winning that division in Washington; and Braylin Bayer (Pinehurst) tied for fourth in Idaho 15-18 at 240 after tying for second in Washington 16-18. The girl with whom she tied in Washington, Spencer Cerenzia (Spokane), was eighth in Idaho at 245.

Other area finishers in the Idaho state tournament:

Boys 15-18 (54 holes): t13, Gant Potter (Hayden), 221; 21, Davis Sheets (Post Falls), 225; t24, Seth Swallows (St. Maries), 228; t26, Cameron Cantillana (Spokane), 230; t26, Luke West (Coeur d’Alene), 230. Boys 13-14 (54 holes): t5, Trey Lambert (CdA), 216; 7, Ryan Howe (Cheney), 218; 10, Johnny Doree (Hayden), 222. Boys 10-12 (18 holes): 10, Patrick Young (Bonners Ferry), 78; 11, Sawyer Haggerty (Liberty Lake), 79; 14, Benjamin Jones (Greenacres), 80; 15, Brody Belzer (Spokane), 80; 24, Cole Paquin (Hayden), 94. Girls 10-12 (18 holes): 7, Emily Stillert (CdA), 97; 8, Avery Wilson (Hayden), 98.

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