Sometimes losing a game is not the worst thing in the world for a team. Take for instance Team Rippeth, the West Holmes 10U baseball team that ripped through the league with a 19-1 record on its way to capturing a championship.
Late in the season Team Rippeth was one errant throw away from completing a perfect regular season as it headed toward the tournament trail. However, that errant throw allowed team Horn to defeat Team Rippeth, handing them their only loss of the season.
While nobody wants to lose, that loss was just fine with the coaching staff.
“Would it have been nice to be undefeated? Yes, it would have, but the loss wasn’t the worst thing in the world for us,” assistant coach Heath Cline said. “We were 14-0 at the time, and after that game the kids were crying, and we just told them, ‘This loss doesn’t mean anything. We just have to keep playing good baseball.’ It actually took a little bit of the pressure of a perfect season off of us and allowed us to play a little bit more relaxed.”
Team Rippeth did just that as they tore through the West Holmes 10U tournament to the finals, where they squared off with head coach Jeremy Burgett’s Team Burgett. However, before they got there, they had to face off against an old foe in Team Horn in the semifinals.
In that game Lynn Cline hit an inside-the-park home run to give Team Rippeth a lead through three innings. After that came the mandatory pitching changes, and the bats woke up for both teams in a big way as they began knocking each other around.
Finally in the bottom of the last inning, Team Rippeth loaded the bases, down 10-9. With two outs Cline came to bat and laced a single that scored the tying and go-ahead runs, and Team Rippeth had earned its shot at a title.
Again, it was a pitcher’s duel early on with Cline striking out nine of the 11 batters he faced. For a team with some not huge expectations, team Rippeth found itself in position to win it all.
“I think we felt when we drafted the team at the beginning of the year we were going to struggle, but the kids got better and better, and we kept plugging away,” coach Cline said. “I think they started to believe in themselves.”
They believed all the way to the finals, where they celebrated a 10-7 victory over Team Burgett.
“It was an exciting way to top off a great season,” coach Cline said. “We are proud of the boys for how far they came and the effort they gave.”
The West Holmes 10U baseball championship team in the picture with the story includes: first row, Ryas Tenney-Rose, left, Joey Wallace, Weston McCluggage and Wyatt Crabb; second row, Zachary Wright, Ben Tanner, Blake Fair, Colston Tenney, Garret Orbst and Lynn Cline; and back row, coach Clint Tenney, coach Steve Orbst and head coach Brian Rippeth. Not pictured is coach Cline.