MARYSVILLE — After placing third in the Strawberry Tournament last year, the dreams of Walker’s Coffee Company to vie for the championship fell one run short to the Stilly Valley Falcons.
Strong pitching efforts by each team kept the June 10 playoff game scoreless for four innings. Then in the top of five, Stilly Valley took advantage of a walk, scoring Josh Schempp on Seigo Hall’s RBI to mid-right field. Hall’s was the first of three consecutive hits that gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead and a big momentum swing.
Walker’s rose to the occasion. Center fielder Branden Warberg led the rally in the bottom of the fifth with a line drive that fell just inside the first base foul line. A couple of jittery pitches by Falcons starter Drew Earnheart allowed Warberg to move around the bases, advancing home on a pass ball. The Walker defense held Stilly Valley to three and out in the top of six and came up to bat with the opportunity to tie or win.
As circumstances would have it, Walker’s tied. Catcher Alec Bargmeyer, who had been shooting for the fence in his two prior at-bats, hit a solo home run over the center field fence to force extra innings.
With new pitchers on the mound, Walker’s and Stilly Valley played to a draw in the seventh inning. Then in the top of eight, relief pitcher Noah Sorensen was walked, setting up another opportunity for the Falcons. Sam Roe, who was 3-for-4 against Walker’s, batted Sorensen into scoring position and the run came home on an RBI by cleanup batter Noah Jones. Center fielder Tim Kolling batted in Roe for the insurance run.
Again, Walker’s rallied. They came out in the eighth with the top of their order coming up and Matthew Ness and Beau Wells got on base. Stilly Valley walked Bargmeyer, and Walker’s had the bases loaded with just one out. But only Ness made it home for a 4-3 score, taking the run on another pass ball. Sorensen left three Walker’s runners on base as he closed off the game and the comeback with a strikeout.
“We’ve had a strong offense, but it didn’t show today,” said manager Bryan Ness after the season-ending loss. “Their off-speed pitching kept us at bay.”
It was a bittersweet end to the season for Ness, who has coached Little League for eight years and coached the team to a bronze finish in the tournament last summer. With his youngest son in his final year of eligibility, it might be Ness’ last year as coach, as well.
“If we had won this game, I honestly thought we would have gone to the championship,” Ness added. “We match up quite well with these teams.”
While season is over for Walker’s Coffee Company, individual players may be named to the Marysville all-star team when rosters are announced June 16.