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Junior Legion baseball: Olympic Tigers ready for regional tournament in Montana
The Olympic Tigers will participate in regionals for the first time ever, but the club must win without its best pitcher.
No. 1 starter Joe Stevick won’t be available for the state-champion Tigers, who continue their winningest season of all time at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Bozeman, Mont., for the opening round of the American Junior Legion Northwest Regional tournament.
Stevick, who anchored a pitching staff that coach Nate Andrews said was the team’s strength all season, is in Holland for a family function. The regional tournament will be over when he returns.
“We’re going to miss him, definitely,” Andrews said. “But we’ve got a lot of depth and guys who are capable of stepping in.”
Look no further than Chris Campbell and Danny Sullivan.
Campbell has been the team’s closer all season and was named the Most Valuable Player of the state tournament, which ended with Olympic defeating the Burlington Sox 5-4 Sunday in Anacortes.
Sullivan drove in the game-winning run with a single in the bottom of the ninth inning. He was later named the tournament’s Most Valuable Pitcher.
In addition to Spencer Hansen, the duo gives Olympic reliable arms.
“We’re confident now, we just won state,” Campbell said. “There are going to be some great teams out there, but if we stay together and play good baseball then we can do it.”
The Tigers are a summer team made up of players from Olympic High School and one of eight teams from seven states who will compete at regionals, facing host Montana in the first round.
Clubs from Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and Utah will participate along with a second Montana team and the Tigers, Washington’s lone representative. All games will be played in Bozeman.
“We’re going to be competitive,” Andrews said. “We have strong baseball in this area, we’ve been tested all year and Washington teams have generally done pretty well over there.”
The tournament is double-elimination, meaning the Tigers will play Saturday regardless of Friday’s outcome. It also is the final tournament of the season because Junior Legion doesn’t have a national “World Series” like Senior Legion, pitting regional winners against each other.
Knowing they have advanced as far as they can, the Tigers hope to finish with a regional title. The championship game will be played Aug. 10.
“It’s kind of overwhelming,” Campbell said. “At the beginning of the season, this is what every team hopes for.”