There’s only one sure thing when it comes to the Mill Valley Little League playoffs.
There are no sure things.
The Majors playoffs saw a stunning Saturday, June 2 in which all four of the lower-seeded teams toppled the higher seeds, with none more news-making than the 8-seed Cubs, who scuffled to a 2-15-1 regular season, defeating the 1-seed White Sox, who rolled through the regular season with a 14-3-1 mark.
The star of the game was Cubs pitcher Henry Simpson, who threw a complete game one-hitter.
And the ride continued for the Cubs, who toppled the Yankees in the semifinals. Now, the Cinderella Cubs will face the Tigers in Saturday’s City Championship, June 9 at Boyle Park. The Tigers earned their way with a win over the 2-seed Reds and 7-seed Giants.
After the game, a ceremony at Boyle Buena Vista will see the awarding of the O’Dogg Awards for most inspirational, the Manager of the Year awards, and the 10s, 11s and 12s All-Star hat recipients.
In the Minors, fewer upsets abounded, as the top-seed Giants, riding a sizzling 15-game win streak, will meet the 3-seed Nationals, who only finished a game behind the Giants in the standings. That game, also, will be on ‘Super Saturday, June 9 at Boyle.
And in the Minors AAA, the Swirl Cup championship went to the 2-seed A’s, who beat the top-seed Royals, 8-4, to capture the hardware. To the action:
Cubs 4, Yankees 3 —The Cubs secured a spot in the City Championship in a tight game, riding the arms of Gage McKay and Hank Blumberg, who combined on a two-hitter in the semifinals. Henry Simpson smacked two big doubles for the winners. For the Yankees, Holden Bougie starred at the plate and Brendan King on the mound.
Tigers 6, Giants 3 —Jackson Van Til threw four strong innings, giving up one run and striking out four, to lead the Tigers in the semifinal. The Tigers cranked out 11 hits, including two from Ian Murdoch, Eli Solem and Tito Fierstein. Tristan Diecks delivered a clutch two out triple to give the Tigers insurance in the fifth inning. Braden Young went 3-for-3 for the Giants.
Tigers 2, Reds 1 — In a classic pitchers duel, Andrew Sternfels put the 6-seed Tigers ahead with a two-out RBI single to cap off a two-run rally in the top of the sixth inning in a quarterfinal. Ryan Burns was brilliant for the Tigers giving up one hit, walking none and striking out 13. Tyler Buxton and Jack Phibbs combined to strike out 16 for the 3-seed Reds, with Buxton collecting two hits as well.
Yankees 4, Brewers 3 —Zane Kiger set the tempo by lining the first pitch of the game into center field, taking two bags on passed balls and scoring on a sacrifice fly from third, Rory Flynn brought home a run with a sacrifice bunt and Andrew Gordon laced the go-ahead RBI to score Holden Bougie for the Yankees. Bougie also pitched 3 and 1/3 innings of one-run ball, and Gordon hurled a scoreless inning. The Yankees clinched the win with a clutch catch by outfielder Oliver Browne in the bottom of the sixth.
Giants 1, Red Sox 0 — Thomas Boyle and Jack Hanna combined on a one-hitter, as the 7-seed Giants surprised the 2-seed Red Sox. Hanna’s RBI double plated Braden Young with the only score of the game, and Fiver Press shined on defense for the Giants.
Giants 8, Cubs 1 — The top-seed Giants won their 15th consecutive game, as Hank Murray threw three innings of no-hit ball and struck out eight in the semifinal. He was aided by a diving catch in right field from Cooper Embree. The Giants closed matters on the mound with Xander Mak and Shade Murray.
At the plate, Shade Murray went 3-for-3 with a double and Mak hit a two-run triple, while Devin Perkins played well at catcher.
For the 4-seed Cubs, Henry Pearson whiffed four in two innings of scoreless ball, and Tyler Weisberg hit a long single and scored the Cubs’ only run.
Nationals 6, KC Monarchs 3 — Colt Crum Usich was the star of the semifinal show at Boyle Park, almost single-handedly lifting the Nationals to the Minors City Championship finals. Crum Usich threw three shutout innings and struck out six; then ripped three hits, scored two runs and drove in one at the plate. Teammate Dara Zolfaghari closed it out with three innings of six-strikeout ball to push the Nats past the Monarchs.
For the Monarchs, Declan Murphy lit up the dugout with a two-run home run over the right-center field fence, while Lucas DiPippa and Scott Olinger had two hits each.
KC Monarchs 6, Tigers 1 — In a quarterfinal game, Lucas DiPippa threw 2 and 1/3 innings of six-strikeout ball, while Cooper Mitchell fanned five in 1 and 2/3 innings and Declan Murphy closed it out with two shutout innings.
Giants 15, Homestead Grays 9 — In a quarterfinal game, Giants pitchers struck out 14. Xander Mak and Cooper Embree each had multiple hits. For the Grays, Oliver Jones had two hits, including a ball to the fence at Boyle Buena Vista. Nate Ryan and Andrew Martini combined to strike out six on the mound.
Cubs 10, Twins 3 —In a quarterfinal, the Cubs rode a five-run first inning on big hitting from Henry Pearson, Singye Junni, Cameron Pringle and Colton Renga. Junni, Renga and Pearson each added a double another five-run inning, while Pearson rung up six Twins in the final two innings on the mound. For the Twins, Caden Marinozzi had a big two-run single and Tate Allen threw two shutout innings.
Mets 4, Phillies 2 — Cameron Williams had a two-rrun double and Max Fiek threw two innings of scoreless baseball in a La Ginestra consolation bracket game.
A’s 8, Royals 4 — In the Swirl Cup Final, the pomp and circumstance of the championship game included a sterling rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, and plenty of thrills on the Boyle Park grass.
The Royals looked strong early with solid pitching from Henry Bennett and a couple of hits from Brayden Clifford.
But the A’s came charging back behind three-hit days by Sean Miller and Trey Sasso, and key two-out singles from Asa Bauer and Sabine Barringer. The A’s received solid defense from Hugo Ray at third base, and were able to withstand a strong effort from Royals closer Will Ostrander to claim the trophy.
Mill Valley Little League congratulates the following All-Star hat recipients for the 2018 9-year-old All Stars: Henry Bennett, Charley Blumberg, Ethan Camposano, Brayden Clifford, Carson Farmer, Connor Grant, Maya Maxson, Sean Miller, Hayes Neal, Luke Nurney, Will Ostrander, Ben Richardson, Evan Stoll, Henry Tuttle, Ryder Weber, Lukas Welter, John Cochrane, Anthony Murphy, Trey Sasso, Conrad Zirkle.
All-Star hat recipients for the 10s, 11s and 12s will be announced after Super Saturday’s final games at Boyle Park.