Excitement for Mill Valley Little League All-Stars reached a peak on July 7 at Joe Wagner Field, as MVLL put both the 11s and 10s All-Stars in the District 3 championship games, and the 11s even took home a championship banner back to Boyle Park.
The 11s advance to Section 1 play on Saturday in Vacaville, meeting District 4 champion Lafayette in the first game of a double-elimination tournament.
To the action:
Mill Valley 2, San Rafael 1 (Championship Game) — Henry Pearson was masterful, leading the 11s to a District 3 championship by pitching a complete game victory in an electric atmosphere between two good teams.
Pearson allowed just two hits, walked none and struck out eight in the win, never wobbling despite the high stakes involved. He finished the game in spectacular fashion, taking a one-run lead into the bottom of the sixth, then retiring San Rafael’s mighty 2-3-4 hitters on a strikeout, a strikeout and a first-pitch line out to center field. The final out set off a celebration on the mound with his teammates, and even drawing MVLL kids from the stands who hopped down from the outfield fence to come celebrate.
Mill Valley (8-1 in pool and elimination play) took the lead two batters into the game, pleasing a sizable fan contingent when Will Gensler singled, took second on a passed ball, then scored on a clutch RBI single from Cooper Mitchell.
Pearson worked out of a two-on, two-out jam by striking out San Rafael’s slugging No. 5 hitter to end the first, then went to work from there. Pearson got big help when Mitchell, who caught all six innings, fired a strike down to first baseman Declan Murphy to back pick an unsuspecting San Rafael base runner in the second inning.
Mill Valley bumped its lead to 2-0 when Scott Olinger singled, took second on a passed ball, then scored when Gensler came through again — this time with an RBI triple to deep right field.
San Rafael, whose only loss in pool play was to Mill Valley, came firing back in the bottom of the 5th when Max Gatewood singled in Ben Lowenstein to make it 2-1. San Rafael’s fans, hungry for a comeback, came in loud and proud, but Pearson stayed cool and retired Colby Jackson when Mill Valley right fielder Devin Curtis made a fine running catch on a long foul ball to end the inning.
That set up Pearson’s shut-down job in the sixth, and the ensuing celebration. The District 3 11-year-old All-Star banner belonged to Mill Valley.
Mill Valley 7, Ross Valley 3 (Semifinal Game) — In a huge win for Mill Valley on July 6 at Gallinas Field, Colt Crum Usich threw 57 pitches — 45 of them strikes — to push Mill Valley past a tough Ross Valley team and into the finals.
Crum Usich walked none and scattered nine hits in leading Mill Valley past Ross Valley. He got run support in the fourth when Hank Ballard broke open a 2-2 tie with a key run-scoring double, and when Will Gensler then drove in two more with a clutch triple to right field. Henry Pearson added a sacrifice fly in Mill Valley’s key five-run fourth inning.
Declan Murphy hit a triple and scored for Mill Valley and played a standout game at first base, while Cooper Mitchell caught all six innings and added an RBI single. Scott Olinger had two hits for Mill Valley, and Gensler scored two runs.
Cochrane threw 56 strikes of 72 pitches, but Novato South scored a single run in the third and fifth innings to account for the difference. Novato South’s Aiden Whitmore pitched 4 and 2/3 innings of shutout ball, striking out nine.
Henry Tuttle, Brayden Clifford, Trey Sasso, Henry Bennett and Maya Maxson each had a hit for Mill Valley, which finished District 3 play with a 5-4 record.
Mill Valley 6, West Marin 5 (Semifinal Game) — In an epic comeback not soon forgotten, Mill Valley overcame a 5-0 deficit in the bottom of the sixth to stun West Marin on July 6 at Strawberry. Mill Valley scored the final three runs with two outs, anchored by Trey Sasso’s clutch, game-tying, two-run double. Sasso scored the winning run when JT Cochrane singled him home for the climactic comeback, his second hit of the inning.
The comeback started when Cochrane singled, and Ryder Weber was hit by a pitch. Maya Maxson then bunted and a throwing error put Mill Valley on the board, down 5-1. An RBI ground out by Conrad Zirkle made it 5-2, and a Lukas Welter RBI made it 5-3 before Sasso’s heroics.
From July 1 … to the action:
A whirlwind six-game pool play schedule ended for Mill Valley’s 12U, 11U and 10U All-Stars on Sunday, and all three teams advance to the District 3 elimination round starting this week.
The 12s finished pool play with a 1-5 record but made it in as the No. 8 seed, and faced off with No. 1 seed Novato North on July 2 at Boyle Park. The 11s finished pool play with a 5-1 record as the No. 2 seed, and took on No. 7 seed San Francisco American in the quarterfinals at Treasure Island on July 2. The 10s finished pool play with a 3-3 record, and as of press time their seeding and opponent was yet to be determined.
Twin Cities 5, Mill Valley 1 – Reed Hanna had two hits and threw four innings of two-run ball for Mill Valley in a loss at Boyle Park on June 29.
Novato South 5, Mill Valley 0 – Bennett Dammann threw 1 and 1/3 innings of shutout relief for Mill Valley in a loss at Boyle Park on June 28.
San Rafael 4, Mill Valley 3 – Jackson Van Til had three hits, Reed Hanna had two hits and Bennett Dammann threw 2 and 2/3 innings of shutout ball in a loss at Glenwood Field in San Rafael on June 26.
Novato North 2, Mill Valley 0 – Reed Hanna threw five shutout innings in a tough walk-off loss for Mill Valley at Babe Silva Field in Novato on June 24.
Mill Valley 13, San Rafael 9 – Hudson Boose hit a go-ahead two-run double and scored three runs to lead Mill Valley’s comeback win at Glenwood Field in San Rafael on June 30. Mill Valley trailed by six runs, but Cooper Mitchell had four RBIs and Will Gensler scored three runs and and threw two shutout innings to aid the rally. Scott Olinger threw 2 and 2/3 innings and allowed one earned run.
Mill Valley 10, Tiburon Peninsula 2 – Will Gensler, Dara Zolfaghari and Cooper Mitchell each had two hits and Hank Ballard threw 2 and 2/3 innings of shutout ball for Mill Valley at Boyle Park on June 29.
Mill Valley 10, Ross Valley 1 – Henry Pearson threw four innings of one-run ball and Devin Curtis hit a key two-run single to lead Mill Valley at Boyle Park on June 26. Dara Zolfaghari threw two shutout innings to close the game.
Mill Valley 14, San Francisco American 0 – Will Gensler threw three shutout innings, Cooper Mitchell drove in three runs and Tiim Ural and Henry Pearson each had two-hit days to lead Mill Valley at Boyle Park on June 24.
Dixie-Terra Linda 2, Mill Valley 0 – JT Cochrane threw four innings of two-run ball for Mill Valley in a loss at Galliinas Field in San Rafael on June 30.
Twin Cities 11, Mill Valley 2 – Brayden Clifford and Henry Tuttle each threw a shutout inning in a loss for Mill Valley at Boyle Park on June 29.
West Marin 7, Mill Valley 6 – Ryder Weber hit a two-run triple and Trey Sasso hit a two-run double for Mill Valley in a loss at Central Park in Fairfax on June 27.
Mill Valley 12, San Francisco American 5 – Trey Sasso had three hits and Conrad Zirkle knocked in four runs to lead Mill Valley at Boyle Park on June 24.
From June 24 … to the action:
Tiburon 3, Mill Valley 2 (7 innings) — In a tight and taut game at Strawberry on June 23, the 12s lost a heartbreaker. Mill Valley built a 2-0 lead by taking advantage of a Tiburon error, after a rally was started by a Hugo Barberie triple and Jackson Van Til infield single.
But Tiburon fought back for a single run in the fourth and fifth innings to tie, before a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh ended the game. Elliot Dasovich threw 3 and 2/3 innings and did not allow an earned run for Mill Valley, striking out three.
Mill Valley 9, SF National 1 — The 12s opened pool play with a bang on June 22 at Boyle Park, as Bennett Dammann threw 4 and 1/3 innings and did not allow an earned run, and added two hits and an RBI at the plate. Reed Hanna hit a double as part of a two-hit day, while Eli Solem, Ryan Simon and Tito Fierstein each had two hits.
Novato North 5, Mill Valley 2 — The 11s lost at a toasty Babe Silva Field on June 23 to a Novato North team that did not commit a single error. Henry Pearson and Declan Murphy each had two hits and an RBI for Mill Valley, while Dara Zolfaghari had two hits and scored a run. Colt Crum Usich allowed one earned run in three innings, and Cooper Mitchell did not allow an earned run in two innings on the mound.
Mill Valley 15, West Marin 0 — The 11s opened pool play with a rout that was ended after three innings. Henry Pearson threw three shutout innings, while Will Gensler had three hits to lead a nine-hit attack for the winners.
Mill Valley 11, SF National 1 — Ryder Weber smacked three hits and drove in four runs to lead the big win at Treasure Island on June 23, improving the 10s to 2-0 in pool play. Brayden Clifford and Henry Bennett also had multi-hit days for the 10s, while Luke Nurney, Henry Tuttle and Lukas Welter combine to allow only two hits in four innings.
Mill Valley 12, Ross Valley 1 — JT Cochrane threw four innings and did not allow an earned run, and the 10s smashed 15 hits, including doubles from Brayden Clifford and Ryder Weber, to lead the big win. Cochrane went 3-for-3 and scored two runs.
More photos from Lisa Kift, Bzur Haun and Jeff Farmer of the 2019 MVLL All-Stars: