Babe Ruth

Ilwaco Babe Ruth players and coaches hold a final pregame strategy session before their semi-final contest versus Kelso. See photo galleries at facebook.com/groups/499152958139783/?ref=share.

KELSO — An outstanding season for peninsula Babe Ruth ended July 31 as Kelso came out on top 4-0 in the semifinals of the regional tournament.

Ilwaco’s loss ended a string of impressive wins against other Babe Ruth powerhouse teams from around the Pacific Northwest.

According to reporting by the Longview Daily News, Kelso’s defense was key in their victory, which keeps the Cowlitz County team in the hunt for a spot in the 2021 Babe Ruth World Series in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Ilwaco’s Kaeden Lyster turned in a stellar performance as pitcher for the first four innings, but Kelso found a path forward starting in the fifth.

“Kaeden Lyster came out there and just was lights-out today, as we’ve seen all year,” Ilwaco coach Bret Hopkins told TDN. Hopkins made his team out of the age-eligible players from his squad at Ilwaco High School — and the Fishermen had 12 underclassmen on varsity this past season. Nine of those came together to form the core of the 12-player team.

TDN said the squad went from being the youngest side in the Pacfic 2B League in the spring, to playing against 18u teams in the summer, taking a quick break to with the Southern Washington state championship earlier in July and then take part in regionals.

“The dance has to end eventually, I guess,” Hopkins said. “I told the kids we couldn’t have represented a little 2B school any better than we did today. There are more kids in one grade here [at Kelso] than we have in our high school, middle school, and probably both elementary schools. To have a group of kids like this is like winning the lottery three times in a row.”

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