The Key Peninsula Little League (KPLL) minors team, the Benchwarmers, finished a perfect season by winning their Division 2 championship game against South Kitsap Western June 11 in Olalla. They won after tagging out the tying run between third base and home, completing a record-breaking 20-0 season.
"I am so proud of my team, my coaches and my parents," said team manager and KPLL president, Lee Miller.
The stands were packed with KPLL supporters, including players and coaches from opposing teams and even other leagues, to cheer on the Benchwarmers in what would be their toughest matchup of the year.
After starting the game behind in runs for the first time all season, the coach of the opposing team repeatedly called timeouts to stop the Benchwarmers' momentum. When a Benchwarmers coach was ejected following a miscommunication with a Kitsap umpire, the opposing team demanded a forfeit since league rules require three coaches on the team roster be present for play.
Miller consulted league officials and discovered that as team scorekeeper, Shannon Coons was on the team roster and could fill in, satisfying the league requirement.
Play resumed, but not for long.
At the top of the sixth inning, left fielder Cooper Miller, 7, stopped a bouncing grounder and fired it back to his brother, catcher Tristan Miller, 9, at home plate to cut off a runner leaving third. Tristan Miller threw to third baseman Conner Burton, 9, who tagged the runner out, winning the game and the championship.
Final score was 8 to 7, Benchwarmers.
"The team consists of some amazing and talented boys who show great sportsmanship and are always supportive of each other, as well as their competitors," said team parent James Coons. "They even helped another team from a very poor area in Tacoma who were struggling and had their coach quit in the middle of their season." Miller and the entire Benchwarmers team and coaches practiced with the other team to improve their skills.
"We parents feel blessed to have been a part of this team," Coons said.
"This has been truly an amazingly special season. I hope these boys remember this for the rest of their lives," Miller said.
The Key Peninsula Business Association sponsored the Benchwarmers. The coaching staff was Lee Miller, Megan McFarlane and Kenny Arnold. The scorekeeper was Shannon Coons and team mom was Lynda Burton.
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