SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – The Post Falls Little League team fell short on Saturday against Gresham LL of Oregon 8-4 in the Northwest Region title game, but the Idaho entrant didn’t cheat itself in the fun department.
The Idaho team’s elimination was a disappointment for manager Dusty Pfennigs, his infielder/pitcher son Jake Pfennigs and the other 10 Post Falls players who were bidding for a berth in the World Series, Thursday through Aug. 26 in South Williamsport, Pa. But everyone involved asked indicated the experience was a positive one.
“There were a lot of tears shed,” said Dusty Pfennigs, a mortgage banker who has managed for years. “All you can do is hug them (your son) and tell him you love him.”
That was the best option for most any Post Falls fan after Oregon took an 8-1 lead after three innings and then hung on for the victory before 1,250 in 100-plus degree weather at Al Houghton Stadium and a national TV audience on ESPN.
Little League headquarters prohibited players from the losing teams to be interviewed after the game, but Post Falls fans had plenty to say about their team and the time it had in Southern California.
“San Bernardino was awesome,” said Barry Buer, the father of Post Falls catcher Nate Buer, who had one hit from his leadoff spot in the batting order. “They made friends with the Hawaiian kids who were bunk mates (in the same barracks building). They got puka shells and traded pins and got T-shirts and swam. Some of the kids got to go to Newport Beach.”
“They had a blast,” said Cathy Hillman, mother of center fielder Johnny Hillman. “They hung out with the Hawaii and the Northern California team in the dorms and that experience was as big or bigger than anything that happened on the field.”
Post Falls put two runners on base in the first, including a double by starting pitcher Quin Bennett. But Oregon pitcher Hunter Hemenway escaped the jam unscathed.
Oregon seized a lead in the first inning, scoring three runs on three walks, a hit and a fielder’s choice.
Post Falls went 3-2 in San Bernardino.
Bennett and Sam Schulze each had two hits, including Schulze’s solo home run.