They’ll remember this game for years.
It was triple overtime for the Snoqualmie Valley Little League’s 11-12 All-Stars team, when the boys got their big chance. All they needed was one run to deliver against Bellevue East, but the Ravens’ powerful defense, under pitcher Wil Helland, held them off as dusk was falling.
But the All-Stars loaded the bases, and a hit by Troy Baunsgard brought home fleet-footed Frankie Cepeda to break the tie and advance a thrilled group of boys.
“We stuck with it, hit the ball and didn’t ever give up,” said Connor Webb, who took the pitching honors, the third boy on the All-Stars to take the mound in this long game, throwing some 40 pitches. His arm was a tad sore, “but it feels really good to get this win,” Webb said.
Parents and coaches were on the edge of their seats for much of this playoff game. Deborah Meister, mom of 12-year-old All-Star Blake Meister, noted “the thrill and the nerves and the anticipation and the camraderie” that comes from a Little League tournament. “The ups and downs, all of it motivates them.”
Baseball plays an important role in the lives of its young players and their families.
All of Little League is an all-volunteer system. Every coach and umpire, just like the kids, is here because they love baseball.
While many coaches and staff are parents, many of them don’t have children in the league anymore. They stay for the love of the game, even as they watch kids grow up in the program.
At the All-Star game, mom Naomi Irish watched her son Josiah make two vital catches, intercepting possible home run hits in the eighth and ninth innings.
Naomi knows that these games are intense for the boys, but “I think it’s worth it.”
Josiah plays football and basketball, too, but baseball is special. He’s played it since age 5, and says it keeps him out of trouble.
Cepeda, the fast runner, counted his hits in the tournament. Only two, he says, “but who cares, we’re winning!”
Several North Bend-area Little League teams fed into the All-Stars, and Snoqualmie Valley Little League forwarded three to the regional tournaments.
Local Little Leagues promote the traditions, excitement and lessons of baseball for children in the Valley.
Youth baseball gives children “an opportunity to be in a team environment, to play with other kids,” says Roy Baunsgard, the current SVLL board presient.
In Little League, kids learn a work ethic, how to be part of a group. There can be tears and smiles, Baunsgard said.
“Sometimes you’re going to win, sometimes you lose,” he says. For the younger players, “you have to build them, tell them it’s OK, you’ll play again. You’ve got to learn how to deal with both.”
Registration is now open for fall baseball in SVLL. Fall ball involves players primarily ages between 8 and 11.
• You can learn more about Snoqualmie Valley Little League at www.svll.net/board.