Mercer Island 10U All-Stars place third

After losing its first game to the eventual tournament champion, the Mercer Island Little League 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars battled their way back through the loser’s bracket to finish third at the District 9 Little League tournament held at Hartman Park in Redmond, Wash. A total of 16 Little League all-star teams from the Eastside District 9 participated in the tournament and only the winner advanced to the state tournament.

After losing its first game to the eventual tournament champion, the Mercer Island Little League 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars battled their way back through the loser’s bracket to finish third at the District 9 Little League tournament held at Hartman Park in Redmond, Wash. A total of 16 Little League all-star teams from the Eastside District 9 participated in the tournament and only the winner advanced to the state tournament.

The Mercer Island All-Stars registered a 14-7 loss to the Eastlake Little League All-Stars in the first game on July 3. The boys from Mercer Island proceeded to win their next five games in a row, scoring 62 runs while allowing only 11. Highlights of the five-game run included a 19-3 victory over the all-star team from rival Thunderbird Little League and a big 15-1 victory over Fall City on July 9 to cap off the five-game winning streak. The tournament ended for the Mercer Island All-Stars the following evening with a disappointing 3-2 loss to the Redmond West All-Stars. Redmond subsequently lost to Eastlake, which advanced to the state tournament.

For the tournament, the Mercer Island All-Stars batted .419 with an on-base percentage of .509. Every player on the roster made significant contributions to the team as it played seven games in eight days. William Mansfield led the team with 13 hits and a .542 batting average over the course of the tournament. Josh Stenberg led the team with 13 RBIs, a .593 on-base percentage and he also hit the team’s only home run in the victory over Fall City. Michael Drucker led the team with 11 runs scored and was one of only three kids on the team who did not strike out during the tournament. The pitching staff was anchored by Brandon Lawler and Mansfield, who received some great support in relief from Josh Stenberg, Harrison Goonewardene, Michael Bantle and Teddy van der Velden.

The third place finish was an outstanding performance for the Mercer Island Little League, which is only in its second year of existence. This year’s team included four 9-year -olds so the future is looking bright for the Mercer Island Little League.

MI Power 9U wins West Seattle tournament

A group of 9-year-olds from Mercer Island joined forces to win the West Seattle 9U baseball tournament held over the weekend of July 14-15. The team included seven players from the MI Power 9-10, Bellevue Pony Mustang regular season team and three rising stars from the Mercer Island Little League.

On the first day of the tournament, the team played three games in pool play and managed to win all three, including victories over the Auburn Longhorns, West Seattle All-Stars and the Tacoma Gators. Sam Pugel doubled and drove in four runs while Griffin Mueller went 4-for-4 with three RBIs in the first game to lead a 19-hit attack against the Longhorns. The bats were quieter during the second game, but key doubles by Eric Kim and Andrew Pickles started a rally that gave MI Power the lead for good against West Seattle. Harrison Goonewardene went 3-for-3 with a home run, a double and four RBIs in the final game of pool play to lead the team against the Gators.

Despite finishing first in their pool of teams, MI Power was seeded third of the eight teams that advanced to the following day single elimination playoffs and faced the Gators (2-1 in pool play) in a rematch. Pitching and defense were outstanding on both sides as the game went into the fifth inning with MI Power clinging to a 1-0 lead. Johnny van der Velden ignited a Power rally as the team broke loose for five runs during the fifth to take a 6-0 lead and win the game. Another key hit was a two-run home run by Mueller.

In the semifinal, the team started slow against a good hitting team from Stod’s. Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the first, Josh Stenberg unloaded his second home run of the tournament to tie the score. In the fourth inning, MI Power mounted a five-run rally that included a three-run triple by Harrison Goonewardene as the Island team took the lead 7-2. MI Power held on to win 8-5. Anthony Scalzo contributed two clutch hits and three runs scored to lead a balanced attack.

In the championship, MI Power faced a familiar foe in the form of the Bellevue Dragons, a team hailing from the same Bellevue Pony league as MI Power. The Power bats exploded with four runs in the first inning and three runs each in the second, third and fourth innings for a commanding 13-0 lead. The team closed out the Dragons in the bottom of the fourth to win 13-3. The game was a rematch between the teams who played in last year’s 8U West Seattle Tournament championship, also won by MI Power. Kim led the way with a 3-for-3 performance to go along with two RBIs and two runs scored. Kyle Densley had a key hit in the first inning outburst while Andrew McCray chipped in two hits, including a double and scored a pair of runs.

Mercer Island Little Leaguers finish fourth

The Mercer Island Little League 11-year-old All Star team completed a successful run at the recent Little League District 9 All Star Tournament with a repeat of its fourth-place finish from last year.

Led by the outstanding pitching and hitting of Christopher Lawler and Zach Rothenberg, the team compiled a 4-2 record in the double-elimination tournament. The team’s losses came at the hands of last year’s runner-up and cross-lake rival Bellevue Thunderbird and two-time District champion Eastlake. Lawler and Rothenberg were a combined 21-for-33 hitting with 12 RBIs, 12-runs scored and a combined on-base percentage of .769. On the mound, the pair pitched 19 of the teams 30 innings and allowed just 10 earned runs in five games. Other offensive stars for the tournament were Jacob Stenberg (.471), Bennett Dammeier (.417), and Ben Furukawa (.389).

In the opening game against Snoqualmie-Valley North, Mercer Island dominated with a resounding 12-2 victory in five innings. Rothenberg threw a two-hit complete game and went 2-for-3 at the plate, including a bases-loaded two-run single to close out the game. Lawler went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Stenberg was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs.

Game two brought a tough Bellevue Thunderbird team, defending runner-up (9-and 10-year–olds) and the team that eliminated Mercer Island last year. Lawler took the hill for Mercer Island and pitched 4-1/3 strong innings, striking out 7-of-the-21 batters he faced while giving up just three earned runs on a few soft hits. Unfortunately for Mercer Island, that was just enough for Bellevue as the Islanders could not put enough offense together, eventually losing 5-0. The Island team managed just three hits (Rothenberg 2-for-2; Lawler 1-for-3) against a very tough Thunderbird pitcher.

Next up was Sammamish American in the first elimination game for Mercer Island. Rothenberg took the mound and was dominant, allowing just one hit and one walk over three innings. Meanwhile, the offense returned as MI pounded out 15 hits in three innings to post an impressive 14-0 win in just four innings. Offensive leaders were Furukawa (3-for-3, three runs); Daniel Sims (2-for-3, two runs); Lawler (3-for-3, three RBIs, two runs); Stenberg (2-for-3, two RBIs, two runs); Rothenberg (3-for-3, two runs); and Dammeier (2-for-2, four RBIS, two runs).

The fourth game was a defining game of the tournament for the Islanders against the strong Kirkland American team. Dominating pitching, sparkling defense, and timely hitting all played a role as MI earned a 4-1 victory. Stenberg pitched a perfect first inning and then handed the ball to Lawler who dazzled and confused his opponents, allowing just one run over five innings while strikingout nine of the 23 batters he faced. At the plate, Lawler was 1-for-3 for two runs scored, while Stenberg and Rothenberg were each 1-for-2 with an RBI apiece. Michael Schaloum was 1-for-2, including the game-winning RBI with a two-out single in the fourth inning. Dammeier also had a key sacrifice fly for an insurance run in the fifth inning.

With a 3-1 record, Mercer Island brought a lot of confidence into game five buoyed by two wins in a row and looking for a third against Issaquah National. The Islanders got the bats going early with five runs on six hits in the top of the first inning, plus another four runs in the second. Before Issaquah knew what hit them the Islanders were up 10-0, on their way to an 11-5 victory, setting up a semifinal showdown with perennial powerhouse Eastlake. Hitting stars included Furukawa (2-for-4); Sims (2-for-5); Lawler (3-for-5, two RBIs); Stenberg (2-for-4); Dammeier (2-for-3, three RBIs); and Peter Welch (2-for-2, RBI).

In the sixth and final game for Mercer Island, Eastlake lived up to their reputation as a Little League powerhouse by knocking out 15 hits, including three home runs and two doubles. Mercer Island kept the game close through three innings, but Eastlake proved too tough and exploded for seven runs in the 4th inning to seal a 13-3 victory. Mercer Island’s Welch provided his own fireworks with a big blast to left field for the Islanders’ lone home run of the tournament.

MI Riptide takes Kick in the Grass tournament

The newly formed Mercer Island Riptide soccer club brought home championship medals for their boys under-12 Select Division by beating the Fusion, 7-1.

The tournament attracted more than 120 soccer teams in the boys and girls U12 through U18 and 19 age brackets.

The Riptide overcame a tough shut-out loss to the Fusion Lightning, whose lone breakaway goal was enough to win the game. The Riptide went on to qualify for the final by dominating their next two opponents, including a 7-1 score over a seasoned Cascade Football Club team from North Bend.

Riptide’s hopes of a rematch with the undefeated Fusion Lightning in the final championship game were realized but the team again fell behind 1-0 on a penalty kick goal by the Fusion. Sam Lehman scored for the Riptide midway through the first half, setting off a scoring barrage. The Tide put four more goals in the net in 15 minutes, and lead 5-1 at halftime. Fusion’s clever strategy to draw Riptide off-sides, was almost as entirely unsuccessful in the championship game as it had been successful in their first outing. And Sam Peterson blanketed Fusion’s outstanding center-midfielder, turning off the Fusion scoring machine, which had averaged eight goals per game in other tournament games.

The MI Riptide Tumwater Tournament team includes Noah Deiparine, Arthur McCray, Josh Bender, Austin Scarff, Daniel Sims, Christopher Lawler, Charlie Vetter, coach Tom Koning, Grady Burdick, Sam Lehman, Ryan Koning, Peter Welch, Sam Peterson, Nate Schuler, coach Roy Schuler and Christian Byrne.

Mudville takes AABC state title

Mercer Island-based Mudville (5-0, 30-21) captured its first AABC Mickey Mantle 16U State Championship by defeating Dow 6-2 in the first game of the series at Bannerwood. Errorless defense, timely hitting and solid pitching were the ingredients to the dominant win and the tournament.

Mudville never trailed during the contest as the Birds struck first in the top of the second with a solo blast by starting pitcher Matt Boyd. Mudville added three more runs in the third with a few clutch hits including an infield bunt by Tommy Castle, a two-RBI single by David Courtney and the aid of two walks and a hit batsman. Dow (4-2) scored their first run in the bottom of the fourth just to have the Eagles answer back with two in the top of the fifth on a Boyd single, Courtney reached on error, walk by Connor Audycki and a RBI single by Mike Curtis. Dow scored their final run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Errorless defense and solid pitching shut down the Dow offense that had scored 39 runs in five games leading up to the championship. Boyd (2-0) pitched a complete game six hitter, all singles, eight strikeouts for his second complete game of the tournament. In consideration of his overall play, Boyd was named the tournament MVP, hitting .625 with a home run, triple, four doubles, a slugging average of 1.118 and an on-base average of .700, He also drove in nine runs.

Mudville now finishes the season in Blaine, Wash., next week with the CABA 16U Western Wood Bat Nationals.

Tournament game results: Mudville 6, Dow Baseball 2; Mudville 6, Maltby Vipers 4; Mudville 6, Seattle Seadogs 3; Mudville 8, The System 0; Mudville 12, Seattle Stars Parker 5.