WICHITA — The Kansas Stars, a collection of ex-Major Leaguers, ran the table in the 83rd National Baseball Congress World Series, stopping the Everett Merchants 7-1 Sunday night in the championship game.
The Stars finished 6-0 in the tournament. It was the first title in two seasons for the Stars.
It was the Stars’ second win over Everett in the tournament, winning 10-1 in pool play. The Merchants’ sole losses came to the Stars, finishing 4-2.
“They get a lot of experience, they learn a lot from them and it’s a great stage to be on for these kids,” Everett manager Harold Pyatte said. “These are college guys, most of them, and they’ve never played at this level before. It’s the pinnacle of our season. We won about 10 of our last 13, 14 games. As soon as we got the invite to the World Series, we picked it up. We played well. I’m proud of my team. No one expected us to get by the Foresters or Seattle or the Hays Larks. We suddenly came together and we did it.”
The Merchants’ finish was their best since winning it in 1988.
“We’ve been here four or five times since then, but this is the best we’ve done since ’88. We love the fans, the atmosphere, the competition. Now that you have the all-stars here, it’s even better. What’s the answer? How do you stop those guys? You keep coming back and they get a little bit older.”
Stars starter Ben Sheets, a 10-year MLV vet and four-time all-star went five innings for the win, allowing two hits and four strikeouts. Wichita State and eight-year MLB vet Nate Robertson, 14-year MLB vet Joe Beimel, five-year MLB vet Ryan Mattheus and 10-year vet and three-time All-Star Heath Bell each threw an inning.
“It was fun,” Bell said. “The Wichita fans were awesome. It was a great atmosphere.”
Everett starter Pete Irvin, a graduate of Lewis & Clark, went 3 2-3 innings for the loss. Colorado State-Pueblo junior Brett Ricklefs went 3 1-3 innings. Bellvue University junior Max Dwyer finished the game.
The Stars were led by 11-year MLB vet Ryan Langerhans, who went three for five. Seven-year vet Jason Repko was three for three. Langerhans was named the tourney MVP.
“It could have gone to any number of guys,” Langerhans said. “Our pitchers did great all week. It was fun getting back together from this group and seeing all the support from Wichita at the end of this. If our bats keep up, hopefully, they’ll let us keep coming back.
“Those guys are a classy group of guys. We faced them in our pool. I have a lot of respect for those guys. I hope they have great futures.”
Jake Levin, a Central Washington senior, went two for four to lead Everett.
Brothers Adam and Andy LaRoche each drove in a run in the top of the first inning for the Stars. The Stars strung together three hits with two outs in the top of the fourth to score two runs. Koyie Hill and Langerhans each drove in a run.
Everett got on the board in the bottom of the sixth on an infield single by Max Whitt to drive in a run.
With bases loaded and two outs in the top of the eighth, Jason Repko ripped a three-run double to right field.