Little League All-Stars from Mercer Island’s 9- and 10-year-old league reached the District Nine championship game last Saturday as they pursue a second consecutive state title for their age division.
Mercer Island is the lone remaining undefeated team, following a hard fought 9-5 victory on Saturday, July 11 over host team Redmond West, and a dramatic 12-11 victory on July 8 over neighboring rival Thunderbird Little League.
Playing against Thunderbird, the Islanders found themselves trailing 8-1, but scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning for the win.
The Islanders played for the district championship on July 13 (after the Reporter’s deadline), needing only to win on either Monday or Tuesday to advance.
The winner of the District Nine title will head to the Little League state tournament, where Mercer Island could be defending its state title from last year.
On July 11, in a game against a team representing the Redmond West Little League, the local All-Stars fell behind in the bottom of the third inning with starting pitcher Drew Christofferson giving up two runs off a walk, two singles and an outfield error.
But Christofferson got out of the inning with the score 2-0 by stranding two runners with a flyout and a strikeout.
Mercer Island came right back in the top of the fourth inning with three consecutive singles by Johnny van der Velden, Devon Hayes and Scott Ramseyer, which loaded the bases.
Slugger Spencer Fuhr then stepped up to the plate and delivered two runs with an RBI double knocked into left field.
Noah Hsue made what spectators called the play of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning to earn the team’s final out, diving fully horizontal to catch a line drive.
The team broke open the game in the next inning with four walks and four hits, including a bases-clearing double by Luke Boksem, an RBI single by Kenny Koning and a sacrifice fly by Justin Myers.
Relief pitcher Ramseyer came on in the fifth inning to get the team out of a bases-loaded jam with seven pitches.
After van der Velden doubled, Devon Hayes singled him in for an insurance score and then held Redmond West scoreless to end the game after six innings, earning the 9-5 win.
Against the Thunderbird team, David Sims, Hsue, Christofferson and van der Velden all batted in key runs in the decisive sixth inning to secure the win.