Members of the Feather River All-Stars pose after winning the Section II championship at Feather River College on July 16. It was the first time a Little League baseball team from Plumas County made it this far. From left: coach Terry Baumgartner, Avery Dyrr, Joey Romano, Brendan Murray, Bowdy Griffin, Jake Rick, Toby Buus, Kodi Lowdermilk, Mitch Pearson, Simon McQuarrie, Cody Morrison, coach Adam Young and coach Rick Lowdermilk. Not pictured: Drew Baumgartner. Photo by James Wilson
The Feather River All-Stars junior Little League baseball team did something last week that hasn’t been done in Plumas County by a Little League baseball team before: the team won the sectional tournament to advance to the regional tournament.
The All-Stars, made up of players from Quincy, Portola and Loyalton, clinched their tournament win July 16 by taking down Gridley 10-7.
Feather River’s Little League team started its roll July 13 by defeating Gridley 16-10. The following day the team squeaked out a 7-6 victory against Peach Bowl. Feather River never faced Red Bluff, the other team competing for the section championship.
“We had the same struggle all three games,” said Feather River All-Stars coach Terry Baumgartner. “We gave up runs we shouldn’t have given up. It’s tough to be clean with a baseball for seven straight innings at that age.”
Despite giving up runs, the All-Stars kept their undefeated streak intact throughout the tournament. All three games were essentially won in the last few innings.
“We forced the other teams to use up their starters as quickly as possible,” Baumgartner explained. “We made them use their bullpen, which wasn’t as good. That’s why we scored runs late in the games.”
In Little League, pitchers are allowed only 95 pitches per game. The Feather River All-Stars purposefully took strikes to run up the opposing team’s pitch count. By the fifth and sixth innings, secondary pitchers were used and the All-Stars took advantage of them.
Defensively, Feather River played its game in an opposite manner. Some of the team’s best pitchers were held back until the final innings.
Brendan Murray closed out the last two games of the tournament for Feather River. According to Baumgartner, Murray is the hardest thrower and the best curveball on the team.
“Our whole team made loads of contributions,” continued Baumgartner. “Joey Romano pitched an excellent game against Gridley, and Bowdy Griffin was hitting over .500 and had a ton of RBIs.”
Griffin averaged .520 and managed 15 RBIs since the District 48 tournament earlier this month. Murray was right behind Griffin with a .471 batting average. On the mound, Toby Buus led the team in strikeouts with 10.
Baumgartner began looking through past records to see how the current team compares to past teams and was shocked to find out his team has made it further than any other Little League baseball team in Plumas County history.
“I think a Little League softball team has gotten to the Regional tournament before, but not a baseball team,” said Baumgartner. “I haven’t delved into the archives all the way, but it has at least been a long, long while since a Plumas County team has won the section tournament.”
The team advanced to the regional tournament held in Healdsburg. The All-Stars played their first game July 20 in a double elimination tournament with 17 teams competing. Details on how they did will be in the July 31 Sports and Recreation section.