Henson and Gibler Bainbridge...
The gap between the Northwest and a Championship
Neither Bainbridge, Washington, nor Davenport, Iowa wanted to concede victory in Game Seven of the 2001 Little League World Series.
Bainbridge took the early lead before 5,600 startled fans at Volunteer Stadium, only to let Davenport tie the game up in the bottom of the sixth. In the top half of the seventh inning, Coby Gibler of Bainbridge decided to take the game into his own hands and finished off Davenport with a home run to center field.
He also picked up the save by pitching a scoreless bottom half of the inning. Bainbridge emerged victorious in their first game of pool play, beating Davenport by a score of 4-3.
Bainbridge starter Nash Henson threw a solid game. In 5 2/3 innings of work, he surrendered four runs on four hits. Henson also fanned eight Davenport batters, and did not figure in the decision.
The winning pitcher was Robert Stevenson, who replaced Henson with one out to go in the sixth. .
Bainbridge took an early lead in the third inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Henson crushed a double to left, scoring teammate Peter Leslie.
“It felt good,” Henson said of his two-bagger. “It was a solid hit. The pitcher just kept putting the ball where I like it.”
After Peter Hisinga drove in another run with a grounder to short, Henson himself crossed the plate on a two-out double by Jesse Colkitt. The third inning rally gave Bainbridge a three run lead.
In the fourth inning, Davenport gained some ground on Bainbridge. A Henson fastball found the sweet spot of Chris Kolar’s bat. Kolar drove the ball 210 feet and over the left-center field fence to pull his team to within two runs.
In the sixth inning, with Davenport still down two, Kolar singled to right with two outs. Willie Argo advanced Kolar to third with a single of his own. Tim O’Donnell made it a one run game, sending Kolar home with a single down the right field foul line.
With his team needing only one more out to win, Bainbridge manager Don French lifted Henson in favor of Stevenson. Stevenson’s first pitch was a curveball in the dirt, which got away from catcher Adam Beck and allowed Argo to come home and tie up the game.
“It is never really over in Little League,” said Davenport manager Matt Kolar. “That last out is hard to get.”
Gibler did not waste any time in the top of the seventh. He took the first good pitch that he saw and crushed it over the center field fence.
“I thought that it was an easy pop-up, but it went over,” he said.
Gibler then came in to pitch for Bainbridge. He retired the side in order, striking out the last two batters to win the game.
“Coby knew what he had to do,” said Bainbridge Manager Don French. “He got the job done.”
- David Graham-Caso