The New Level Kings- Jennings 14U (pictured) from Puyallup, Washington, won this past weekend’s USSSA Rawlings Washington State tournament after defeating the Washington Rush 14U- Black 5-4 in the championship game. This was the Kings’ first USSSA tournament title in 2018, and it was captured in outstanding fashion. They went 5-1 overall and outscored opponents 71-24 combined.
The 14U division of the Rawlings State Tournament featured 12 Washington-based squads across three different classifications and two age groups. Most notably, three 13 Major teams entered the field, Premier Baseball Purple, Rijo Athletics White and Rijo Athletics Black. Once play began in Tacoma and Lynnwood, each squad would compete in two pool play contests then seeded for single-elimination bracket competition.
The Kings-Jennings stumbled a bit out of the gate as they lost their first game, 9-8, to the Federal Way Knights, a 14-Major team. While the second game wasn’t a do-or-die, it was imperative that the Kings right themselves and that’s just what they did. Manager Derek Jennings’ group rebounded nicely and blew out the Crimson Cannons (AA) 14-0. Because of the lopsided score the game lasted just four innings, but Aiden Jackson (3 IP) and Garret Ringer (1 IP) still should be recognized for their outstanding pitching efforts.
As a result of their early loss, the Kings-Jennings were seeded 7th out of the 12 teams advancing to the bracket which meant a tougher road to the finals. In fact, the Kings had to play an opening round game and did not earn the bye that many of their chief competitors enjoyed. The first round game turned out to be nothing more than a warmup as they dismantled the Diamondbacks (AAA) 20-1. This was just a three inning affair and pitcher Brady Burnett went the distance on the bump. Next up was a quarterfinal matchup against the Rijo Athletics- White who was the second overall seed and 2-0 to that point. The Kings handled this 13-Major team fairly easily and won a run-rule shortened 13-2 game behind 4 effective innings from Jack Anderson.
The semifinal game against Premier Baseball Purple was a matchup featuring two teams that did not earn a bye – a rarity that both squads pulled off “upsets” in their second round games. Premier Baseball, a Major team with a 10-3 overall record pushed the Kings-Jennings a bit, but could not get over the top. The Kings advanced with an 11-8 victory and had to split pitching duties to three players to navigate the dangerous Premier lineup. Credit to Carter Stamon who led the way with three innings followed by Aiden Jackson and Jack Gallagher each with one.
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As mentioned above, the Kings-Jennings took down the Washington Rush 14U Black in the finals, a formidable AAA opponent who completed the state tournament 3-2. The New Level Kings-Jennings have only participated in four USSSA tournaments this year, but have a great overall record of 14-6. They’ve yet to be tested too much In Class, compiling a 1-3 In Class mark.