At the youth baseball level, a coach’s dream is two-fold.
They would like to win games, but even more than that, a successful season might be measured by the contributions made across the entire roster.
On Thursday night, Tim Stone, the president of the Huntington Valley Little League, held a party for the league’s 10-and-under All-Stars after they accomplished just that.
In the words of their manager Jerry Marchbank, a “team effort” resulted in the first state championship in the history of the league.
“At one point in the tournament, all 13 kids had either a big hit or a dominant pitching performance or a key stolen base,” Marchbank said. “Everyone contributed. That was kind of the story. There was no single individual, but really, it was a team effort that everyone contributed to.”
Huntington Valley Little League celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, doing so in grand fashion. Marchbank’s team won five elimination games in five days to win the Southern California title.
The local All-Stars dropped into the loser’s bracket following a second-round loss to Fullerton Golden Hills.
“We said after that game, ‘We’ve just got to play one pitch at a time, and let’s see what happens. Let’s just play every pitch as hard as we can, and let’s see where it goes,’” Marchbank said. “Sure enough, we came into the next day, and they ended up winning the game. We felt like, ‘Well, if we can just get through the next game, we’ll be okay,’ and we just kept that momentum going.”
Huntington Valley posted wins against Chula Vista Eastlake, El Segundo and Santa Maria Northside before turning the tables on Fullerton Golden Hills with back-to-back wins.
Last Sunday, the battle back was completed, as Huntington Valley edged Fullerton Golden Hills 5-4 in a winner-take-all championship game at El Cerrito Sports Park in Corona.
Mason Tapia made his defining moment of the All-Star season a memorable one. Following a third-strike call, Tapia stole home when the ball was delivered back to the pitcher, accounting for the difference in a one-run title-game victory.
“I think we’re pretty aggressive on the bases,” Marchbank said. “We coach that. We teach kids how to get good leads and try to teach them how to read and understand [situations] on the basepaths.
“I think all of our team is really aggressive on the basepaths by nature, and I think he saw an opportunity and took it.”
Jon Stone, Nathan Sammartano and Owen Bone held opposing offenses in check on the mound, traversing the perilous road of pitch count limits to keep themselves available for their team.
Of the 13 players on the 10-and-under roster, 10 of them helped Huntington Valley win the Section 10 title last year as 9-year-olds. The returners were Jared Marchbank, Sol Moriyama, Jaxon Olmstead, Blake Hayes, Charlie Henderson, Colby DeBenon, Bone, Sammartano, Tapia and Stone.
The newcomers were Cody Kruis, Jack Brown and Grady Ream.
Huntington Valley went 13-1 overall this season, outscoring opponents 115-36 over their 14 games. Bone, Brown, Marchbank and Ream each hit at least .500 for the season.
The team will be recognized before the start of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game on Sept. 16.
Huntington Valley has gone as far as it can go the last two seasons with Jerry Marchbank calling the shots. In two years, his kids will have their shot to go even further, as they become eligible to compete at the Little League World Series.