In a scene worthy of a Hollywood script, the Powell Cardinals Little League baseball team clinched the Majors title last week with a walk-off home run in the final inning to take a 1-0 victory over the Dodgers.
A pitcher’s duel from the start, the head coach of the losing side said it was a memorable game to cap off her first season as a head coach.
“It was one [heck] of a game,” said Dodgers first-year coach Vikki Brown. “We had a very young team, but a very good team. I pitched Cade Queen the whole game and he had a lot of good innings; I think he finished with 67 pitches for the whole game.”
Down to the bottom of the seventh with the score knotted at 0-0, the game looked like it might go into extra innings. But with two outs, Brock Johnson — who Brown described as a fearsome hitter — strode to the plate for the Cardinals, looking to end the game.
“I made the decision to not walk him, because I wanted the kids to play the game out. I made the call and said, ‘Just pitch to him Cade,’” Brown recalled. “Cade pitched to him, and Brock hit that ball — I believe it was a 3-2 count with two outs — and it just flew over the fence.”
Brown said the Dodgers were understandably disappointed after the game, but proud of how far they’d come this year.
“They were disappointed, but they were the underdogs all season,” Brown said of her club. “I was the only coach in the league that had never coached, and we had a talk at the beginning of the year and the kids didn’t think they were going to win. So when we made it to the championship, I think everybody realized we weren’t even supposed to make it that far. But we were in it and held them off for six innings. Who can help a walk-off homer?”
The Dodgers had tied the Cardinals earlier in the season — the only team in the league to do so. They never won a game against the league’s best team, but Brown said it was errors that cost the Dodgers opportunities for a win.
“We’d make one simple error, and they’d score three runs, and the game was over,” Brown said. “So what it came down to in the end was we needed one clean game, and we got that. There were zero errors in that game for both teams, and they could walk away with their heads held high and know they gave it their best. And we took second place.”
Brown’s son Alex has been playing Little League baseball in Powell four years, and was instrumental in getting his mom to take over the reins of the team.
“I’ve kind of always been involved in the game in the background,” she explained. “If they were doing functions or stuff like that, I’d try to help out.”
This year at sign-ups, it was mentioned to Brown by another parent the league had a shortage of coaches. Brown let the league know that, if no one else volunteered, she would step up to the plate, so to speak.
“I’d rather see my kid play than not have a coach to play with,” she said. “So I got that phone call, and they said, ‘Hey, we want you to coach.’ I said, ‘Alright, I’ll start watching YouTube.’”
With no previous coaching experience to speak of, Brown knew she’d be learning just as much from the kids as they did from her. The Dodgers finished with a 3-1-2 league record, and also played non-league games against opponents from around the Big Horn Basin, winning every one. Both losses on the season were to the eventual champions, the Cardinals.
The Majors’ All-Star team, comprised of players from each of the four Powell teams — the Cardinals, Dodgers, Rockies and Braves — will now begin their summer season. The team will play in a few tournaments this month before hosting the state tournament beginning July 24. There are only three players on Powell’s All-Star team who were not part of the All-Star team that took second at state two seasons ago, said Brown, who’s helping coach the squad.
“These kiddos, when they were in minors, have played together for a lot of years,” she said. “This year, we were able to get that specific team back together, so hopefully they can get it done this year.”
Cardinals: Ethan Welch, Brock Johnson, Isaiah Woyak, Dillon Payne, Brody Payne, Zane Graft, Devin Kokkeler, Cole Fauskee, Bryce Martin, Dallin Waite, Dante Zaffarano, Jermaine Broussard and Aiden Greenwald. Head Coach: Trent Greenwald.
Dodgers: Cade Queen, Kaiden Jones, Alex Jordan, McKale Foley, Jacob Gibson, Treysan Norris, Virginia Lohr, Kash Brazelton, Donte Marquez, Isaac Stensing, Jacob Eaton, Alexzander Lee DeBoer and Andrew Moretti. Head Coach: Vikki Brown.
Braves: Jacob Orr, Nathan Feller, Tevon Schultz, Rayce Degraffenreid, Keona Wisniewski, Dawson Griffin, Luke Eastman, Trevion Solberg, Max Reynolds, William Patrick Haney, Treyston Scott, Chase Visocky and Logan James. Head Coach: Waleryan Wisniewski.
Rockies: Landon Hyde, Will Jackson, Weston Ayotte, Case Bradish, Ethan Brewer, Merced Jordan-Silva, Dalton Worstell, Jhett Schwahn, Hunter Mason, Ethan Melton, Evan Staidle and Korbyn Warren. Coaches: Heath Worstell and Rob Hyde.
Alex DeBoer, Dodgers; Dalton Wortsell, Rockies; Jhett Schwahn, Rockies; Brock Johnson, Cardinals; Ethan Welch, Cardinals; Dillon Payne, Cardinals; Brody Payne, Cardinals; Isaiah Woyak, Cardinals; Cade Queen, Dodgers; Treysan Norris, Dodgers; Jacob Gibson, Dodgers; Rayce Degraffenreid, Braves; Keona Wisniewski, Braves; Jacob Orr, Braves.