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Hole-in-one: Collin Rutherford aces hole No. 2 at Nevada County Country Club

Collin Rutherford celebrated a return to his hometown on Aug. 22 by scoring a hole-in-one at the Nevada County Country Club.

Rutherford, now of Ames, Iowa, was playing in the club’s annual Invitational Tournament with his father, Jeff, when he used a pitching wedge to ace the 136-yard second hole.

Jeff Rutherford, Jeff Duran and Gary Menary witnessed the feat.

For information on NCCC, contact Club Pro-Manager Kelly Runkle at 530-273-6436 or kelly@nevavacountygolf.com.

Sports related reports may be submitted to Sports Editor Walter Ford at wford@theunion.com

 

Barbara Schmidt Millar Women’s Duathlon, 5K pivots to virtual race

A triathlete competes during a previous Barbara Schmidt Millar Women’s Triathlon.
Submitted by Andy Wright/Lighhawkphoto.com

Due to smoke from surrounding wildfires and to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community, the 26th annual Barbara Schmidt Millar (BSM) Women’s Duathlon and 5K Committee has decided to switch this year’s event — originally scheduled to take place on Sept. 19 — to a virtual race.

“We made the decision to pivot to a virtual race — rather than postpone it for another year — because the funds that this event generates are so important to our friends, neighbors, and loved ones fighting breast cancer. Even during a global pandemic, cancer doesn’t stop, so why should we?” said BSM Event Director Danielle Scallin.

Virtual races in both the running and triathlon worlds have grown in popularity since the beginning of the pandemic, giving athletes from around the world the opportunity to earn coveted medals, collect unique racing T-shirts, privately push their limits, and support a wide variety of charities, from the safety of their own backyards.

“This is a great opportunity for those who are new to running and cycling to really get out there and have some fun, at your own pace, all for a great cause,” said Scallin.

BSM Duathlon athletes or relay teams can complete the duathlon or the 5K run/walk on any day of their choosing, anywhere they like, at any time of day Sept. 19 through Oct. 19. Participants can record their results on any tracking application (such as Garmin, Strava, or Map My Run) and submit their overall times. Registration ends on Sept. 18.

Proceeds from the event go toward breast cancer services and support at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, as well as scholarships for female high school graduates going into the field of health care. According to Kimberly Parker, executive director of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation, which is the home of the BSM Duathlon, since the event’s inception over 1,200 patients have benefited from race proceeds and $186,000 has been raised to help 71 scholarship recipients.

“The BSM Fund at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s Women’s Imaging Center specifically supports low to no cost breast care services to those in our community who may not be able to afford treatment,” said Parker. “This event plays a vital role in making sure our community stays happy and healthy, for generations to come.”

“We would like to invite our community to help us continue our mission of supporting those who need it most, despite COVID-19. Please join us in participating in this vital, charitable event.”

For more information, or to register, make a donation, or sponsor the virtual event, please visit www.bsmtri.org.

Source: Amy Abt, development/communications manager at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation

Hole in one: Blake Andrews aces hole No. 2 at Nevada County Country Club

Friday the 13 turned out to be a lucky day for Blake Andrews of Nevada City.

Andrews scored a hole-in-one at the Nevada County Country Club in Grass Valley. He used a 6-iron to ace the 160-yard second hole. The feat was witnessed by playing partners Tom Hess, Bob Hare, Jerry Schwartz and Harvey Lathrop.

For information about the Nevada County Country Club, contact Club Pro-Manager Kelly Runkle at 530-273-6436 or kelly@nevavacountygolf.com.

Sports related reports may be submitted to sports editor Walter Ford at wford@theunion.com

Banner season: Highly successful postseason runs come to an end for local Little League teams

Little League All Star teams from Nevada City and Grass Valley combined to claim three District 11 titles and three Section championships.

A highly anticipated, albeit precarious, Little League season started back in March as young baseball and softball players returned to diamonds across Nevada County looking to make up for lost time.

When the dust finally settled after months of play, teams from Nevada City and Grass Valley had combined to win three District 11 All Star championships, three Section All Star banners and three Tournament of Champions titles.

“To see so many Foothill teams come out so strong this last year is exciting for the community,” said Grass Valley Little League President Stephanie Statler. “These are good kids who work hard and now we know they can compete with the bigger cities, and that says a lot about their determination and everyone in the community who supports them.”

The Grass Valley All Stars in the Intermediate 50/70 Division (13 and under) put together a stellar postseason that included winning the District 11 title and the Section 4 championship banner.

“It’s a great group of kids,” Grass Valley All Stars manager Derek Hiatt said after his team’s Section 4 tournament win. “This is probably one of the better teams I’ve ever had. No bad attitudes.”

The Grass Valley Intermediate Division All Stars are comprised of players Brock Bodley, Charlie La Jeunesse, Devin Taylor, Dylan Blackmon, Hank Peterson, Jayce Gross, Kade Hiatt, Lucas Frisella, Tiegan McCall, Trace Shelton, Valentino Changras, Devin Wasley and Craig Statler. The team is led by manager Derek Hiatt, and coaches John Singleton and Yuba Taylor.
Submitted to The Union

The Grass Valley All Stars had their run through the postseason come to an end with a fourth place finish at the Northern California State Championships, held in Selma in mid-July.

“I’m so excited for these boys,” said Statler. “These are the same kids that lost their Little League Majors year last season. That’s the year when they should have been dominating the 200-foot fields and smoking the ball out of the park. Instead of dwelling on the loss they came back strong and worked together as a team. They got to play another three weeks of baseball, something they love to do.”

The Nevada City All Stars (Junior Division, 14 and under) also pieced together a strong postseason run. Nevada City powered through the District 11 tourney, capping it with a 16-0 mercy-rule victory over Rocklin in the title game.

The Junior Division All Stars from Nevada City then headed to the Section 4 tourney in Roseville, where they beat North Natomas and Woodcreek (twice) to earn a spot in the title game. Nevada City closed out the tourney and grabbed the Section 4 championship banner with a come-from-behind, 6-5, extra-inning victory over Fair Oaks/Orangevale.

The Nevada City All Stars topped the Fair Oaks/Orangevale All Stars, 6-5, to win the Little League Section 4 Juniors Division Championship. The Nevada City All-Stars are comprised of Soren Caprio, Jack Bryan, Seth Arcand, Orlando Chilton, Nate Lossner, Josh Griffin, Izaya Little, Nate Hundemer, Mason Muellenhoff, Logan Eandi, Liam Crossen, Carter Van Matre and Isaac Arnerich. The team is led by manager Josh Van Matre, and coaches Bill Arnerich and Will Arcand.
Submitted to The Union

“They’re a gutsy group,” said Nevada City Little League President and All Stars manager Josh Van Matre. “I’m proud of them.”

The Nevada City All Stars (Juniors) had their postseason run come to a conclusion last week with a fourth place finish at the Northern California State Tournament held in Healdsburg.

IMPRESSIVE RUN

On the softball diamond, the Nevada City All Stars (Majors Division, 12 and under) also put forth an impressive run.

The softball All Stars from Nevada City cruised through the District 11 tourney, going undefeated with three straight mercy-rule victories. They then opened the Capital Section Tournament with a loss before reeling off three straight wins, including two in a row over East Sacramento, to claim the Section banner.

The Nevada City Softball All Stars (11- to 12-year-old division) won the Little League Capital Section Championship, beating East Sacramento, 10-2. The team is comprised of Evangeline Carman, Arianni Cope, Monroe Ford, Joslyn Henry, Savana Hilton Frazer, Baylee Johnson, Savannah Noxon, Jessica Rivenes, Alyssa Rubiales, Summer Shattuck, Ruby Smith, Karlee Turner and Kyra Thompson. The team is led by manager Dave Rivenes, and coaches Josh Noxon and Ray Thompson.
Walter Ford

“This team, they just battle,” Nevada City Softball All Stars manager Dave Rivenes said after the tournament. “They didn’t want to quit. (Losing the first game) didn’t bother them at all. They are just out here to play and whatever happens, happens. They just forgot about that first loss, started winning and just kept going.”

The season came to a close for the Nevada City Softball All Stars at the Northern California State Tournament, where they finished fourth.

Nevada City Little League also fared well in the Tournament of Champions Series, which proceed the All-Star tourneys. The Nevada City Brewers won the District 11 Juniors Division Tournament of Champions. The Nevada City Rangers claimed the District 11 TOC Intermediate 50/70 Division banner. And, the Nevada City Titans grabbed the Softball Majors Division TOC title.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com

 

Community golf: Hill, Marvelli win Partners Best Ball Championship

Jackie Hill, left, and Bonnie Marvelli won the 2021 Nevada County Country Club Women’s Group Partners Best Ball Championship.
Submitted to The Union

Golfers Jackie Hill and Bonnie Marvelli teamed up to take top honors in the 2021 Partners Best Ball Championship of the Nevada County Country Club Women’s Golf Group.

The duo tied two other teams with a net score of 128 for the two-round event and then climbed into the top spot on a tie-breaker. Donna Carter and Marian Slayton placed second and Chris Elko and Kathy King came in third.

First place among the 9-hole golf group went to Debbie Durkin and Genielle Odom at net 62, followed by Sandy Brislane and Lavinia Garcia, and Marsha Kneebone and Sandy Osterholt, who tied at net 66.

The annual championship was played July 13 and July 20 at the Grass Valley golf course.

For information on Nevada County Country Club programs and membership, contact NCCC Club Pro-Manager Kelly Runkle at 530-273-6436 or kelly@nevadacountygolf.com.

Event organizers may submit game reports to Sports Editor Walter Ford at wford@theunion.com

 

‘A gutsy group’: Nevada City All Stars win Little League’s Section 4 Juniors Division Championship

The Nevada City All Stars topped the Fair Oaks/Orangevale All Stars, 6-5, Wednesday night to win the Little League Section 4 Juniors Division Championship. The Nevada City All-Stars are comprised of Soren Caprio, Jack Bryan, Seth Arcand, Orlando Chilton, Nate Lossner, Josh Griffin, Izaya Little, Nate Hundemer, Mason Muellenhoff, Logan Eandi, Liam Crossen, Carter Van Matre and Isaac Arnerich. The team is led by manager Josh Van Matre, and coaches Bill Arnerich and Will Arcand.
Submitted to The Union

With outstanding pitching, timely hitting and a whole lot of grit, the Nevada City All Stars are Little League Section 4 Juniors Division (14-and-under) champs.

“They’re a gutsy group,” said Nevada City All Stars manager Josh Van Matre. “I’m proud of them.”

Facing the Fair Oaks/Orangevale All Stars for the Section 4 championship Wednesday evening at Mahaney Sports Complex in Roseville, Nevada City scraped out a 6-5 extra-inning victory and did so in a rather unusual fashion.

Nevada City jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one inning, but Fair Oaks/Orangevale fought back with two runs in the fourth inning and another two in the sixth to tie it up. After a scoreless seventh inning, the game went to extras.

Fair Oaks/Orangevale scored a run in the top of the eighth inning to grab a momentary edge, but Nevada City answered back with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning to tie it at 5-5 and extend the game.

In the ninth inning, each team started their respective at-bat with a runner on second base, per Little League rules.

Nevada City held Fair Oaks/Orangevale scoreless in the top of the ninth, thanks in large part to a strikeout, throw-out double play.

In the bottom of the ninth, Nevada City would bring their allotted runner on second base around to score after a pair of Fair Oaks/Orangevale mistakes.

Fair Oaks/Orangevale got the first Nevada City batter out to start the inning, then went to intentionally walk the next batter to set up a potential double play. While in the process of intentionally walking the Nevada City batter, the Fair Oaks/Orangevale pitcher balked. That moved Nevada City’s runner from second to third. A second straight balk brought Nevada City’s runner home for a “balk-off, walk-off” victory.

“They’ve made strides and they are coming together as a team,” said Van Matre. “We’re looking forward to the next tournament. We’re one of seven (Junior Division teams) left in Northern California. Three-hundred and seventy teams started this tournament season in California and we’re one of seven left.”

BANNER YEAR

The Nevada City All Stars faced elimination multiple times in the section tourney, but never stopped battling until they had the section banner in their hands.

“In the district tournament we saw some good competition, but our bats were clicking and we didn’t see the pitching we saw in this tournament,” Van Matre said. “We saw five aces in this section tournament, five legit aces. We didn’t touch any of ’em up, that’s for sure, but we grounded them down. We got the pitching counts up, got them out and got to their second guy, and then we found ways to win.”

Nevada City crushed its competition en route to the District 11 championship earlier in the month, but faced a much more difficult path in the Section 4 Tournament.

Nevada City opened the tourney with a 4-2 win over North Natomas July 14, and followed it with a 2-1 win over Woodcreek July 16. Nevada City suffered its first, and only, loss of the tourney on Saturday, falling to Fair Oaks/Orangevale, 2-0. The All Stars from Nevada City bounced back with a come-from-behind elimination-game victory over Woodcreek, 5-4, on Tuesday to earn a spot in the title game against Fair Oaks/Orangevale.

“We developed a lot of battle-tested kids in this tournament,” said Van Matre. “Being able to see five aces, five of the best pitchers we’ve seen all year and get Ws the hard way, by grinding them out, it’s awesome.”

The Nevada City All-Stars are comprised of Soren Caprio, Jack Bryan, Seth Arcand, Orlando Chilton, Nate Lossner, Josh Griffin, Izaya Little, Nate Hundemer, Mason Muellenhoff, Logan Eandi, Liam Crossen, Carter Van Matre and Isaac Arnerich. The team is led by manager Josh Van Matre, and coaches Bill Arnerich and Will Arcand.

Next up for Nevada City is the Northern California Tournament in Healdsburg. Nevada City’s opening round game is against Los Altos at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Nevada City’s run to a section championship marked the third time a local Little League team accomplished the feat this season. The Grass Valley All Stars (50/70 Intermediate Division) won the District 11 title and went on to claim the Section 4 banner before having their season come to a close in the Northern California Tournament. The Nevada City Softball All Stars (12-and-under Division) won the District 11 and Capital Section championships before having their season end at the Northern California tourney.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com

 

Charity golf tourney for injured vets tees off Wednesday

Registration is open for the Lake Wildwood Injured Veterans Charity Golf Tournament.

The annual golf tourney is partnered with Welcome Home Vets of Nevada County in an effort to help provide financial support for disabled veterans who have suffered injuries while in combat.

Over the past several years, the Lake Wildwood Injured Veterans Charity Golf Tournament has raised nearly $250,000, which has been distributed to several injured veterans. Past recipients have received financial aid and gifts to help them pursue their goals of higher education, to accomplish work tasks by providing modified farming equipment, and provided recreational vehicles altered to accommodate their physical injuries.

The tourney tees off Wednesday, and is open to all members of the public. The cost to register is $125 per person and that includes green fees, golf cart, refreshments on the course, lunch and dinner. The golfing starts at 1 p.m. and is followed by a banquet dinner.

To register visit www.injuredveteranstournament.com. For more information about sponsorships or contributing to the cause, contact Dan Pray at 530-432-8844, or Mike Byrne at 530-432-3948.

Nevada City Classic targets 2022 return

Nevada City Classic Men's Pro Racers make their way around one of the final turns of the Nevada City Classic race course in 2019.
Photo: Elias Funez

The Nevada City Classic, widely known as one of the most challenging and historic criterium bicycle races in the country, is targeting a return in June 2022.

“At this point we’re looking at hitting a reset and going back to our normal June date, which will be either a week before, or on Father’s Day,” said race organizer Duane Strawser. “That will be determined based on national and international race calendars.”

Strawser had originally hoped to put on the 60th iteration of the Nevada City Classic this coming September, but cited potential obstacles concerning fire season, a possible COVID-19 surge, a short turnaround for sponsors and a changing dynamic with the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce.

The race, which started in 1961 and was won by Bob Tetzlaff, has been a staple of the Nevada County sporting scene for more than five decades. Over the years, the race has drawn thousands of spectators and hosted some of the biggest names in the sport, including Greg LeMond, Scott Moninger and Lance Armstrong.

Strawser, who is also on the Nevada City Council, said the race is important on several levels.

“When it comes to the cycling industry and competitive cycling worldwide, (the Nevada City Classic) has a huge effect in North America on cycling as a sport in general,” he said. “It’s not just a little local bike race you throw together at a business park. It gains international media attention and has drawn the sport’s biggest names back in the day. All the top cyclists came here. It’s critical to the sport in general. It’s one of the more iconic races in the country.”

Strawser, who has been running the event since 2000 and before that competed in it multiple times, also emphasized the positive attention it brings to Nevada City.

“As far as the local fabric, the media coverage that this draws, there’s nothing that compares,” he said. “This is the one thing we have every year, even if we only have two people (in-person) watching, it still goes out to millions with the media coverage, whether they are readers, television watchers or radio listeners. We don’t have anything else like it.”

Cyclist Gavin Murray, who won the Men’s Pro race in 2019, spoke highly of the race.

“It’s awesome, it’s one of the best put together races and one of the most dynamic races,” Murray said in 2019. “It’s super kick ya in the teeth, so it feels good to do well.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com

Spectators enjoy the shade near the Nevada County Courthouse near the Start/Finish line of the Nevada City Classic bicycle race in 2018.
Photo: Elias Funez

Power of positivity: Family, friends, softball community mourn loss of Mike Milligan, who died Sunday

All-Star Auto veteran pitcher Mike Milligan, second from left, smiles into the camera during the playing of the National Anthem prior to a 2019 playoff game. Milligan would pitch this game, helping the team win the championship with a 9-8 victory.
Photo: Elias Funez

The hours kept passing by and Mike Milligan was still going strong.

After all, if he was going to do something, he was going to do it right.

Milligan, a feared and revered right-handed pitcher, was at an empty field in Nevada City at the time, practicing along with his catcher in preparation for the 2019 fastpitch softball season.

Milligan was nearly 50 years old at the time, but he was in his usual form — throwing hard and with relentless dedication.

While Milligan showed no signs of slowing down, his catcher was getting tired and his hand was sore.

After a few hours had passed, Milligan put his glove down, much to his catcher’s relief. That relief was short lived, though, as Milligan was simply changing out his glove because it was time to work on his left-handed pitching.

All-Star Auto pitcher Mike Milligan lets a pitch fly during a 2019 Nevada County Fastpitch Softball playoff game.
Photo: Elias Funez

“He gave every ounce of his being to whatever he was doing,” said Russell Brackett, who spent several seasons as Milligan’s catcher. “That was just the kind of guy he was. He was always go, go, go and he never stopped, and I never saw him down or in a negative mood. He was just always this amazing person.”

Later that season Milligan would throw several scoreless innings left handed, including an inning of a no-hitter.

That was just the way Milligan was, dedicated to his craft and highly competitive, but also humble, kind and infectiously positive.

“He never went 50%,” said Justin Nicholson, Milligan’s longtime friend and catcher. “Just the ultimate teammate. His positivity rubbed off on everyone.”

Milligan gained national notoriety for his ability in the circle, but was widely beloved in the community for so much more. He was a son, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a friend, a highly regarded mechanic, a business owner, a mentor, a teammate and someone people could count on in a pinch.

“He brought everyone up,” said Jaysen McDaniel, a close friend of Milligan’s. “Everyone always asks about Grass Valley and Nevada City, and how there are so many great athletes, and Mike Milligan was a father figure for a lot of people on how to play the game the right way. For whoever grabbed on to those coattails and was able to hold on, he made you better.”

Milligan died Sunday in Dayton, Nevada, following a disc golf tournament. The preliminary cause of death was a blood clot in his heart, according to his family. He was 51.

Milligan, a firm belief in the power of positivity, leaves behind a legacy of love, caring and greatness.

“He really was one of a kind,” said Tammy Milligan, Mike’s wife of 30 years. “He certainly meant the world to us. He’s my hero. He was always the person you could turn to and would help you out, and not just his friends, but for everybody. He was an amazing husband and I’m super lucky to get the years I got with him. It’s going to be hard, because he was always our go to guy.”

Mike Milligan with his wife of 30 years, Tammy Milligan.
Submitted to The Union

Tammy added that Mike was a caring and protective husband as well as a terrific father.

“He was a true man. If he was carrying three bags and I was carrying one, he’d insist on taking the one I had too,” she said. “He was a great father. He would take the kids out and teach them not only how to do things but how to be a good person. To be able to handle yourself and survive.”

Mike had three children — Russell, Micheal and Ryan, all of whom he loved dearly.

“He was a great father,” said Russell Milligan, Mike’s oldest son. “He always took the time to make sure we were all happy and learning. He would help with homework and cars.”

Mike Milligan was a dedicated family man.
Submitted to The Union

Mike’s daughter Micheal Dunsdon added, “He was such an amazing dad. He taught me about the outdoors. When we were younger we would go camping all the time. He taught me how to golf, how to snowboard, how to play tennis, how to play basketball and, of course, how to play softball. He just really helped show me how to take full advantage of this life.”

Mike Milligan out to dinner with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.
Submitted to The Union

Mike was a man of integrity and honor, and one who led by example both in his family life, professional life and on the softball diamond.

DOUBLE NICKEL

Mike Milligan and other players from All-Star Auto pump each other up prior to a 2019 fastpitch playoff game at Memorial Park’s Les Eva Field.
Photo: Elias Funez

In Mike’s 30-plus years of playing softball, both slowpitch and fastpitch, he was a consummate competitor, one that claimed many championships but was also gracious when he came up short.

His softball prowess was one that turned heads and wasn’t forgotten by any batter that faced him or any teammate that played with him.

“I was going through all my old books and trophies, and they are all his trophies,” said Nicholson, who spent decades traveling the country and playing alongside Mike. “They are all his. I just rode his coattails.”

Mike Milligan, bottom row far right, played in softball tourneys in more than 25 states, and his name quickly became one everyone in the softball world knew.
Submitted to The Union

Mike played in tourneys in more than 25 states, and his name quickly became one everyone in the softball world knew.

“You can make a phone call to any league from here to New York and they will know the name Mike Milligan. There are teams in Canada that know Milligan, teams in Argentina that know Milligan’s name,” said Nicholson. “Granted he may not have gone as far as he wanted to, and he wasn’t a blow your lights out pitcher, but he was scrappy … pitched every single game and beat the catcher to every foul ball. His energy level would be noticed three ball fields away.”

Mike Milligan, top row far left, played in softball tourneys in more than 25 states, and his name quickly became one everyone in the softball world knew.
Submitted to The Union

For someone who never played Little League and picked up the game of softball at the age of 18, it was an unlikely career that only a person with Mike’s level of desire and dedication could attain.

Early in his softball career, Mike would throw for hours with Nicholson, until one night his relentlessness broke Nicholson’s thumb. With Nicholson unable to catch him, Mike built a cinder block wall and began to hammer it with pitch after pitch. It was on that wall he put in countless hours honing his skills. Over time, he wore a hole in it.

It was that level of dedication that made him the pitcher he was. One that was respected, feared and admired. When No. 55 (or Double Nickel) was in the circle, opposing batters knew the challenge they were up against, and it often didn’t matter.

“My first time ever catching (Milligan), I asked him about signs and pitch sequence,” recalled Walter Carson. “He responded, ‘my first pitch is down ball. My best pitch is down ball. My out pitch is down ball.’”

Batters from coast to coast know that down ball all too well.

“Mike was always happy and his smile was contagious,” said Josh Matzke. “He could turn coal into diamonds with his hands, and threw the craziest upside down thumber flick I’ve ever seen.”

Mike’s success on the diamond never went to his head. He was always quick to credit his teammates in victory, and applaud the other team in defeat.

Mike Milligan, second from left, with Toby Thompson, far left, Daryl Allen, second from right, and Justion Nicholson, far right.
Submitted to The Union

“He was one of the most competitive people I ever met when it comes to giving everything he’s got,” said Brackett. “But, if you got him, if you hit a home run off him, he was the first guy to tell you ‘nice hit’ as you rounded second base.

“His respect for people, his respect for the game, his respect for everything, it was unheralded and I think that made him extra special.”

Mike would collect many trophies and accolades over the years, but by all accounts he wouldn’t measure himself by those, rather by the experiences he had with the people he shared the field with.

“Milli has been a very special person to me and my favorite softball player I’ve ever played with, against or watched,” said Toby Thompson, Mike’s friend and former catcher. “… It’s really hit me hard as I just can’t believe Milli, who was bigger than life, is gone.”

Mike Milligan, front row, would collect many trophies and accolades over the years, but by all accounts he wouldn’t measure himself by those, rather by the experiences he had with the people he shared the field with.
Submitted to The Union

What made Mike special on the field wasn’t just his ability, but his attitude. His competitiveness was uplifting and never toxic.

“The one memory Mike Milligan has left with me is how much joy he would share with the world when he was in his element,” said Guy Tortorici. “(I) feel blessed to have witnessed Mike’s joy as he lived in this world.”

Despite being 51, Milligan was still at the top of his game. At the time of his death he had a 27-game win streak as a pitcher.

He was also coming into his own as a disc golfer, having won his division by seven strokes at the Duel in Dayton.

“Mike was super grateful human being that was very interested in the flight of the disc,” said Garrett Gurthie, the 2021 Disc Golf Distance Champion. “He loved coming up to me and picking my brain about how to throw the disc further. I always loved helping the guy out because he was such an amazing guy.”

Mike Milligan was an avid disc golfer.
Submitted to The Union

A FRIEND TO ALL

In addition to his love for his family and his passion for softball, Milligan was a man of many interests and skills. He was a highly respected mechanic before opening his own business in Grass Valley, A Perfect Game. He would later purchase the 49er Fun Park and ran that for a handful of years before selling it a year ago.

He was also a man who loved the outdoors, hiking with his family, blowing glass, feeding birds, disc golf and much more. Through all his endeavors, he forged lifelong friendships.

Mike Milligan loved the outdoors.
Submitted to The Union

“My most prevalent memories of Milli are him and his ’55 Chevy. That car was bad ass,” said Ben Painter, SPD owner and general manager. “In our later years I was impressed with his creative abilities in designing super slick disc golf courses. His work ethic and character are something I truly admired.”

A to Z owner Danny Wheat added, “I am one of the many people that were so fortunate to have had known such an awesome man. His fire for life lit up the ball field and dugout and whomever he was around during life and sport.”

Disc golfer Jason Herm said, “Michael Milligan may be the best human I’ve ever met. His kindness, acceptance and exuberance for life all came across as love and he showed it to every person who had the pleasure to meet him.”

Mike Milligan was an avid disc golfer.
Submitted to The Union

Softball teammate and friend Justin Deme added, “Every time I saw Milli, he had a smile on his face. Always so welcoming and made me feel like family. He’s the kind of guy you want to raise your son to be. A truly amazing soul.”

Daryl Allen, another close friend and teammate, said, “The man was more than a friend, he was a cross between a brother and a father to me. The words of advice and dedication to whatever he was involved with made it easy for everyone that knew him to love ’Ol 55. Milli was our workhorse and a true ironman on and off the field.”

Mike’s ability to connect with people was something his family takes pride in.

“He had so many friends, everywhere we went he knew someone, and was always saying ‘hi’ to people,” recalled Micheal. “He would go to the store at like 6 a.m. so that he could go grocery shopping without having 20 conversations.

“One of the things I have reflected on and that stood out to me was that he never tried to act cool. He was always just himself. I never imagined him feeling insecure. He’s very outgoing and he fit in, everywhere.”

Russell Milligan added, “His heart was so big and so awesome that his ripple effect is never going to stop.”

EVENING OF REMEMBRANCE

The Nevada County Men’s Fastpitch Softball League has canceled the rest of its 2021 postseason, and will be hosting a fundraiser for the Milligan family instead.

The league will host an evening of remembrance at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Park in Grass Valley. A pick up game will be held at the event in Mike’s honor. There will also be a fundraising raffle, and all concessions sold at the event with benefit the Milligan family.

“(Milligan) was a true friend that would do anything for the people close to him, and a man that set a high bar for other men to achieve,” said league president Tom Allen. “He will be deeply missed and not soon forgotten.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com

SECTION CHAMPS: Nevada City Softball All Stars overcome first round loss, win Little League Capital Section title

The Nevada City Softball All Stars (11-12 year old division) won the Little League Capital Section Championship Thursday, beating East Sacramento, 10-2. The team is comprised of Evangeline Carman, Arianni Cope, Monroe Ford, Joslyn Henry, Savana Hilton Frazer, Baylee Johnson, Savannah Noxon, Jessica Rivenes, Alyssa Rubiales, Summer Shattuck, Ruby Smith, Karlee Turner and Kyra Thompson. The team is led by manager Dave Rivenes, and coaches Josh Noxon and Ray Thompson.
Walter Ford

With their backs against the wall and facing elimination, the Nevada City Softball All Stars did their best work.

After dropping the first game of the Little League Capital Section All Stars Tournament (11-12 year old division), Nevada City reeled off three wins in three days to claim the championship banner and advance to the Northern California tourney.

“This team, they just battle,” said Nevada City manager Dave Rivenes. “They didn’t want to quit. (Losing the first game) didn’t bother them at all. They are just out here to play and whatever happens, happens. They just forgot about that first loss, started winning and just kept going.”

Playing at the North Natomas Regional Park in Sacramento, Nevada City opened the double-elimination Capital Section tourney with a hard-fought 7-4 loss to East Sacramento on July 1. They then won their second round bout with North Natomas, 19-9, on Tuesday, and handed East Sacramento its first loss of the tourney on Wednesday, 19-2, to set up a winner-take-all title game against East Sacramento on Thursday.

In the championship game, Nevada City jumped out front early with four first inning runs and never looked back en route to a 10-2 victory.

While the offense was putting plenty of runs on the board, Nevada City’s pitchers were dominating from the circle.

“We played as hard as we could,” said Nevada City pitcher Kyra Thompson, who tossed the first 3 1/3 innings. “(The key was) working as a team.”

Thompson was relieved by Jessica Rivenes, who pitched the final 2 2/3 innings.

“It feels pretty good,” Jessica Rivenes said of winning the championship. “(The key was) definitely working as a team and playing hard.”

Thompson and Rivenes combined to strike out 12 while allowing just two hits and two runs.

“Our two pitchers were great at being accurate today, and they were very fast,” said Nevada City catcher Monroe Ford. “The key to our success is working as a team and communication.”

Overall, Nevada City went 3-1 in the tourney and outscored their opponents, 52-20.

Dave Rivenes said the championship run was truly a team effort as everyone on the roster made contributions at the plate and in the field.

The Nevada City Softball All Stars (11-12 year olds) went 3-1 overall and outscored their opponents 52-20 en route to winning the Little League Capital Section Championship.
Walter Ford

In Thursday’s title game, Nevada City had nine different players score at least one run as Evangeline Carman, Savana Hilton Frazer, Baylee Johnson, Savannah Noxon, Summer Shattuck, Karlee Turner, Jessica Rivenes, Ford and Thompson all got on base and came around to score.

Arianni Cope, Ruby Smith, Ford, Johnson, Noxon and Thompson all notched hits in the game, and Joslyn Henry contributed by drawing a walk and stealing a base.

With the District 11 and Capital Section banners already in their possession, the Nevada City All Stars will now compete in the Northern California Softball All Stars Tournament, where they will face other Section champs. Nevada City opens that tourney against the Shasta Section winner at 10 a.m. today at North Natomas Regional Park.

“I think our pitching will stay strong and I’m hoping our defense keeps working together,” said Dave Rivenes. “It’s tough out here playing in this heat, but these girls just keep battling through it.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com