American Legion Baseball: Phenomenal West Kootenay Phillies advance to districts

The League informed coach Darren Miracle late Monday that the team had indeed earned a berth in the post-season districts.

It seemed unlikely if not impossible that the West Kootenay Phillies could claw their way out of the basement of the Washington State ‘A’ American Legion Baseball Western division after an 0-6 start and make the district playoffs.

But much like the Miracle Mets of ‘69, the phenomenal Phillies of 2013 went on an 10-1-1 run, including a three-game sweep of Rogers and a win over University 2 on the weekend, to close out the season.

The improbable run vaulted the team to within three games of first-place Central Valley, 15-3, and a half game of East Valley. On Sunday, the team had resigned itself to just missing the playoffs due to East Valley’s winning record, 3-0, over the Phils; all of which occurred in the first four games of the season, before the Phillies began to roll.

However, the West Kootenay efforts were not in vain, as the League informed coach Darren Miracle late Monday that the team had indeed earned a berth in the post-season districts.

“What happened is we had basically the same record as East Valley, and East Valley declined to go so we got in,” said Phillies coach Darren Miracle. “Hopefully we do well, we’re going to work hard at it. The kids are all excited. We actually had to have kids come back from vacation because on Sunday we were out.”

The young team comprised of seven 13-year-olds has dominated opponents with 16-year-old Brandon Zarikoff and Derek Green leading the way on the mound. Despite getting a pass into the districts, the Phillies will be a legitimate threat as they sported the best record in the division down the stretch, going 8-1-1 in the last 10 games.

“They all brought it together,” said Miracle. “I was just looking for one win at a time, because when we were 0-6, I thought we were in a lot of trouble. I just wanted to win and the kids just kept hitting the ball and having fun. The key is that they enjoyed themselves.”

The Phillies join Central Valley, Freeman, Gonzaga Prep, Deer Park, University, Colville, and Mt. Spokane in the District tournament that starts Thursday and winds up Sunday with the top four teams advancing to the State Championship in Olympia, Wash. July 27-31.

“All the kids played well all year from number one to 13,” said Miracle. “I think we’re going to do okay. I think Mt. Spokane is going to be tough, just by word of mouth, they’re a pretty good team, but we’re going to play to win, and do all we can to go as far as we can in this.”

The Phillies open Thursday against Mt. Spokane at 4 p.m. at Deer Park with Zarikoff taking the mound for WKP. The final game goes Sunday at 4 p.m.