The local Okanogan County-based Farmers U-15 baseball team had its season come to an end with two dramatic, 4-3 walk-off losses to the Ephrata River Dogs last Friday (July 8) in Brewster.
The Farmers featured four Methow Valley players in brothers Lucien and Remy Paz, Damon Alumbaugh and Mac Surface. All are also members of the Liberty Bell High School Mountain Lion baseball team. The team is coached by Bret Alumbaugh and Ryan Surface.
The River Dogs closed out game one with a successful suicide squeeze play in the bottom of the seventh inning in the opening game of the best-of-three series Friday morning, then slipped the winning run across the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning of game two.
The series win qualified the River Dogs for the Regional U-15 Tournament next weekend in Kelso. The winner of that tourney moves on to the U-15 World Series next month.
Head coach Alumbaugh was confident in his players despite being short-handed.
“We’ll only have nine, maybe 11 players available for the weekend games,” he relayed in a phone interview late last week. “It’s been like that this summer, and yet our kids have played well. It’ll take a solid effort, for sure,” he said, noting that everyone would have to contribute for the team to make a repeat trip to the regional tournament. The Farmers were one win from the Babe Ruth World Series last year.
In the end, it was a great effort by the local boys, but the kids from Ephrata made one more play — a suicide squeeze, where the runner breaks from third base with the pitch before the batter lays down a bunt. Ephrata executed the play to perfection to close out the comeback.
In the second game, the River Dogs scored first in the second inning, the Farmers responding with three runs in the third inning. Ephrata put up a run in the bottom of the third and tied the game at 3 apiece in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out score.
The Dogs then put up the final tally for the series win in the bottom of the eighth to advance along to the regional series this weekend.
“We had some trouble coming up with that key play,” said Alumbaugh. “There were a couple of opportunities, but we just couldn’t get the bunt down and had a couple of costly errors. But that’s baseball. Still, they’ve played well and should be proud.”