Anna Maria All-Stars find tough competition in District 16 tourney
|Wyatt Easterling slashes a ball down the first-base line during District 16 Little League tourney action at Braden River Park. Islander Photos: Kevin Cassidy
The good news is that the Anna Maria Island Little League baseball All-Star teams managed to do better than last year when the league couldn't field a team to compete in the District 16 tournament in Englewood.
This season, Anna Maria sent two teams - a 9-10 and 11-12 All-Star team - to compete in the tournament, which this year is being hosted by Braden River Little League in east Bradenton. The District 16 tournament serves as the start of a long improbable trek to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Local teams, such as Braden River, made it to the semifinals of the 2002 Southeast Regional tournament in Gulfport, Fla., and Manatee East went even further in 1997, advancing to Williamsport and eventually finishing second in the nation.
After Saturday's and Sunday's results, Island players and parents won't have to make any unexpected travel plans to Williamsport. Both teams were simply overmatched and out played by teams stocked with intense and talented players that were well coached. They were backed up by zealous fans who decorated their vehicles and the dugouts and came armed with various noisemakers to cheer their teams on to victory.
The Anna Maria 9-10 All-Stars dropped a heartbreaking 6-4 decision to Manatee East Saturday, June 26, in its first tournament game despite a strong pitching performance from Glenn Bower. Bower pitched four innings and allowed only three hits while striking out two.
Wyatt Easterling paced the offense for the Island, going 2-for-2 with one run scored, while Austin Wash, Joey Hutchinson and Zachery Facheris each scored one run in the loss.
Other members of the 9-10 Island All-Stars are Justin Suca, Daniel Pimentel, Daniel Janisch, Alex Burgess, Kyle Crum and Trevor Bystrom.
Chase Shaw went 2-for-3, including a double and two runs, to lead Manatee East, which also received a single from Josh Weirich in the victory.
The 11-12 All-Stars - all nine of them - were subjected to a severe beating by the "Beasts of the East" from Manatee East Little League in their opening game. Manatee East received three perfect innings from pitcher Marc Monroe, who recorded every out via strikeout. Mick Olitsky relieved and struck out the side in the fourth to complete the perfect game, which ended with Manatee East on top by a 29-0 score.
Island 11-12 All-Stars Troy Kozewski, Pat Facheris, Daniel Riley, Zach Even, Blake Wilson, Cory Wash, Forrest Schield, Kyle Parsons and Burns Easterling would probably be excused if they opted to bail out after that loss, but they showed good character in coming back Sunday morning to compete.
Again they were simply overmatched against a very good Venice National team that featured Chris Atamanchuk, who hit four home runs in his first game of the tournament. The Islanders held Atamanchuk in the yard, though he did go 3-for-4 and score two runs in Venice National's 13-0 victory. But the star of the game for Venice was James Browning, who went 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs and three RBIs. Browning also pitched an inning of no-hit ball with three strikeouts in relief of starter Todd Hofmeier, who struck out five in two hitless innings.
The Islanders showed some life in the final inning when Cory Wash drew a two-out walk to become Anna Maria's first base runner of the tourney, but Venice pitcher Benson Smith struck out the next batter to end the game.
While the 11-12 team showed improvement from game one to two, the Island's 9-10 team went in reverse. Six walks, a triple and five singles by Venice National and a lack of focus and hustle on the part of the Islanders resulted in an 11-0 deficit after one inning on the way to a 28-2 loss for the younger Islanders Sunday morning.
The Islanders fought back in the bottom of the inning to score two runs. Wyatt Easterling and Joey Hutchinson both singled and scored runs in the inning, while Justin Suca managed a single in the bottom of the fourth for the only other Island hit in the loss.
Michael Knott went 4-for-4, including two doubles, four runs and four RBIs, to pace the Venice offensive onslaught.
By the time this story hits the streets Wednesday, both Island teams will have played their third and final game of the tournament. Look for a report on how our Island boys fared in their last game in next week's Islander.
Skimboard contest set for August
The third-annual EZ Skimmers Back-to-School Skimboarding Contest is now accepting applications for the extremely popular event, which will take place Aug. 21-22 at the Beach House Restaurant in Bradenton Beach.
If you haven't had the pleasure of attending, you're missing out on some serious watersport excitement. Last year the contest drew more than 125 contestants, creating a fantastic atmosphere with good boarding by skimmers of all ages - male and female - along with some interesting commentary, good music and a nice beach view.
Cost for the contest is $25 for an amateur and $75 for professional boarders, with each contestant receiving an EZ Skimmers T-shirt and a grab-bag filled with skimboarding essentials. Age groups range from the Minis (8 and under) up to the Masters (25 and up) in male/female divisions.
EZ Skimmers is also looking for sponsors for the two-day event which already boasts the Beach House, West Coast Surf Shop, ZAP Skimmers, Native Rentals, Fun & Sun Parasail, Sticky Bumps, Block Surf, Skim East, Australian Gold, Oakley, NXTC Surfboards, Timesaver Convenience Store, Skinny's, Dakine, Skim USA and The Islander as sponsors.
Get on board for the most exciting event of the summer!
Registration forms may be obtained at West Coast Surf Shop, 3902 Gulf Drive, or The Islander office, 5404 Marina Drive, both in Holmes Beach. Completed forms and the entry fee should be mailed or delivered to the Beach House Restaurant, P.O. Box 1478, Anna Maria FL 34216. Checks should be made payable to the Beach House.
For more information, call West Coast Surf Shop at 778-1001.