Huntington Valley Little League turned 50 years old last season.
Last summer, a group of 10-and-under All-Stars coached by Jerry Marchbank brought home the first state championship in the league’s history.
Marchbank has coached in the All-Star tournaments for three seasons now, and each one has ended with Huntington Valley going as far as the schedule would allow.
The Huntington Valley 11-and-under All-Stars won a state championship for the second consecutive season, going 12-0 en route to the title.
If this Huntington Valley team wins state next season, it would punch its ticket to the Little League World Series.
“This whole thing started as a dream when these kids were 8 and 9 years old, and here we are three years later and two state championships later,” Marchbank said. “We know there is a lot of work to do still, and Williamsport is still a reach, but we have a chance to make our dream a reality.”
Marchbank and his assistant coaches Matt Olmstead and Steve Bone did not deal with much roster turnover this year. The only newcomer on the 13-player roster was Jason Dunham, who found possibly the best way to ingratiate himself to his new teammates.
Dunham hit a walk-off home run against Chula Vista Eastlake to give Huntington Valley a 7-6 victory in the state championship-clinching game at Harada Heritage Park in Eastvale on July 28.
“He had the walk-off [home run], but prior to the walk-off, he came in as a pitcher that last inning, in the top of the sixth inning,” Marchbank said of Dunham, who played primarily at catcher and shortstop. “He was able to go through the heart of Eastlake’s order and strike out the side.
“He came in, struck out the side in the sixth, and then he was the first batter in the bottom of the sixth and hit a walk-off home run. It was quite a special inning for him.”
Marchbank said that Nathan Sammartano, Owen Bone, Jaxon Olmstead and Jon Stone served as the workhorses for a Huntington Valley pitching staff that allowed just 2.3 runs per game.
Sammartano opened the District 62 tournament with a no-hitter against Seaview in an 8-0 victory.
Huntington Valley also began its perfect run with five consecutive shutouts.
The offense did its part with a long line of experienced players on the All-Star circuit. Blake Hayes, Charlie Henderson, Cody Kruis, Colby DeBenon, Grady Ream, Jared Marchbank, Mason Tapia and Sol Moriyama were also among the returning players for Huntington Valley.
Huntington Valley outscored its opponents 139-28.
“We scored in 42 of the 55 innings that we played,” Marchbank said. “Ten of our guys hit over .400. Everyone hit over .300. We just kept a lot of pressure on teams with good hitting, and it seemed like every time we had a chance to hit, we were going to do some damage.”
After winning back-to-back state championships, Marchbank says that his team will continue to work toward the ultimate youth baseball goal of making it to the Little League World Series.
“We’re going to get back to work come Labor Day,” Marchbank said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these boys, how hard they’ve worked for the last three years.
“We realize that we’re kind of in the home stretch of trying to realize a dream here, and we’re going to give it everything that we’ve got.”