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- TEAM SHARP Plays Smart
- TEAM SHARP Plays Together
- TEAM SHARP Plays Tough
- WE ARE TEAM SHARP!!
2011 Team Sharp News
2011 Season Results (summaries to follow)
Game 36 Team Sharp vs. TBD (Kledzik)
Game 35 Team Sharp vs. Illinois Sparks - Richards (Kledzik)
Game 35 Team Sharp vs. Illinois Sparks - Richards - (I-80 game) CANCELLED
Game 34 Naperville Renegades 3 Team Sharp 2
Game 33 Team Sharp 8 Bolingbrook Rampage 8
Game 32 Team Sharp 2 Illinois Raiders 1
Game 31 Orland Magic 10 Team Sharp 6
Game 31 SW Thunder vs. Team Sharp - CANCELLED
Game 30 Barlett Bandits 11 Team Sharp 10
Game 29 Team Sharp 20 Lockport Cobras 6
Game 28 Team Sharp 6 Lisle Wolves 3
Game 27 Lincoln-Way Blue Demons 2 Team Sharp 0
Following up a long road trip to Tinley Park, TSU travelled to the Mokena/Frankfurt area to play the Lincoln-Way Blue Demons. This has been a very solid team over the years (formerly the Frankfort Force) coached by a good group of guys. Unfortunately, with the Bulls game pending at 7:30, the TSU helped the fans get home early by never taking their clutch hitting out of their bags. In pre-game warm-ups, the ump warned both coaches he was gonna move the game along quick with limited pitches between innings and a large strike zone. Boy, he wasn’t kidding. Dylan Loftis started on the mound for TSU and pitched 3 solid innings. He walked one, struck out one and allowed 2 hits leaving with a 0-0 score. Nick Nemanich came on for 3 innings (his longest outing of the year) and looked SHARP. He allowed a run in the 4th on a walk, a sac bunt, a wild pitch and a ground out. Nick found the right formula having the Blue Demons try to attack 3Bman Tim “Brooks Robinson” Schneider who made a series of fantastic defensive plays. Schneider came on to pitch the 7th trailing 1-0 and allowed one run on a questionable balk call with 2 outs and a runner on 3rd to make it 2-0. TSU was the home team is this tilt and mounted a comeback, but would end up leaving 9 men on base for the game. Tyler Garrity went 2-3 as the lone TSU hitter with multiple hits.
Notes: The 7-inning game ended in one hour and 15 minutes with a number of nice defensive plays by both teams. The LW pitchers did a nice job of beating up the zone with strikes and TSU failed again to come up with any clutch hits. Great D and pitching by both teams. There was some disappointment in the air for Coach Tadd after seeing Coach Angel was not in attendance. TSU sends out its best wishes to speedy Luke Angel for a quick recovery from his broken ankle. Final Comment: Coach Tadd likes big strike zones, but tonight was a little larger than his liking. We did learn 2-color gloves are illegal if pitching and that rule has been around forever just is never enforced.
Game 26 Team Sharp 8 Tinley Park Bulldogs 3
Team Sharp travelled to Tinley Park for their I-80 makeup game and annual showdown with Kevin Andersen’s Bulldogs. This is one of those games which are logistically difficult to get to for the fun bunch of Team Sharp parents especially with a 5:30pm start time. Since it was the only makeup date available beggars can’t be choosers. After scrambling with some late arrivals, the lineup was adjusted and we were ready to play. Collin Gibson drew a one out walk, but was erased on a caught stealing call which would foreshadow a rough night for the young umpiring crew from Tinley. Many thought based on their dress they were either hung over and just got home from the bar or just returned from college and this was their spring training game. Gibson took the hill in the bottom of the first and allowed a leadoff double and then a 2 out double to plate a run for the bad guys. TSU responded in the 2nd loading the bases with a single by Nick Nemanich, and E5 on a Tim Schneider grounder and a walk to Alex Gerner. Luke DeBenedetti then smashed one SS that handcuffed him and he misplayed into a 2-run error for a quick 2-1 Team Sharp lead. After a Vinnie Purpura walk, Dylan Loftis scored the 3rd run. Gibson then pitched around 2 walks in the 2nd which ended his streak of 18 2/3rds innings without a walk. Tyler Garrity singled with 2 out in the 3rd, but died at 3rd base. Gibson throw a scoreless 3rd to keep the score at 3-1. Tim Schneider singled to start the 4tth and scored on a Matt Callaghan sacrifice fly to make it 4-1. Gibson ended his night pitching around his own error on a dribbler up the 3rd base line and TSU maintained a 4-1 lead heading to the 5th. Tanner Dissell led off the 5th reaching on an E4 and then scored on Gibson’s solid single to RF. Gibson scored on a E4 off a rocket shot by Nick Nemanich. DeBenedetti relieved Gibson in the 5th and he kept Tinley scoreless. DeBo pitched around a 2 out double and an intentional walk to keep the score 6-1. In the TSU 6th, Tibble reached on an E6 and scored on a Callaghan screaming double to right centerfield. DeBo then singled and Loftis double in both runners to make it 8-1. Tinley Park didn’t give up and plated 2 runs off an E6 as some annoying black clouds began rolling in. The game ended after 6 innings with a TSU 8-3 win due to some high winds and rain. Note: TSU finally got their act together and took advantage of some Tinley Park miscues to play a solid game. For those of you youngsters who have a desire to umpire for some extra $$ while in HS or college, please don’t wear baggy shorts hanging off your ass, show up looking hung over and not pay attention half the game. Act like you want to be there and dress somewhat like a normal human being.
Game 25 Team Sharp 5 Illinois Raiders 5
Game 24 Sparks - Kutt 15 Team Sharp 1 (exhibition)
Game 23 Illinois Valley Raptors 6 Team Sharp 4 (exhibition)
Game 22 Team Sharp 4 Lockport Vipers 4 (exhibition)
Team Sharp vs. SW Thunder (suspended 4th inning - i-80 game will be made up at a later date potentially as part of a DH)
Game 21 Plainfield Force 17 Team Sharp 7
Congratulations Team Sharp for cracking the TOP 10 team in Illinois as ranked by the ABR (see the link below).
Illinois 12u Rankings
ABR Power Rankings...
12u Rankings Notes
1 (1) Wasco Wildcats Won the USSSA Elite NIT and the USSSA Reverse the Curse NIT
2 (2) Illinois Sparks - Kutt Impressive start to the season with 2 tournament wins
3 (6) Wheatland Ducks Green Lost to #2 in Victory Smackdown Championship
4 (4) Lou Collier Baseball 2nd Place in 2010 World Series. Tournament play will pick up in May
5 (3) Victory Baseball Very solid team that happened to lose early in their own tournament
6 (5)Upper Deck Cougars 1 tournament win and 2 tournament second place finishes
7 (7)Plainfield Diamondkings Won the USSSA Spring Fling and continue to play good ball
8 (8)Plainfield Force Went 2-1 in USSSA Elite 32. Will compete in USSSA Naperville May Mania
9 (9)Effingham Young Guns Early tournament rained out. Will get back into tournament play in May
10 (NR)Team Sharp Won USSSA Play the Turf. 2nd in USSSA events in Crystal Lake and Rockford
Game 20 Lake-in-the-Hills 5 Team Sharp 3
In G3 of the Elgin Reverse the Curse Tournament, TSU was excited to find out if they win they would control their destiny for another shot at Wasco. The opponent would be the Lake in the Hills (LITH) Pirates who had edged the Ducks 3-2 and been drilled by Wasco on Friday night. Collin Gibson would start on the mound on a day where the wind would be a factor. It was blowing in about 30 mph and the outfielders were playing a deep infield. After a 2 out double in the first, an E5 gifted LITH a 1-0 lead and reminded Coach Tadd of Friday’s defensive debacle. In the bottom of the 1st, Alex Tibble and Tyler Garrity drew walks, but Nick Nemanich’s scorching groundball on the double steal hit and run went right up the middle to the waiting SS who turned the quick double play. That was just a tad of tough luck and made you think TSU should have spent the weekend in another city besides Elgin. Gibson pitched around an error in the 2nd and an error in the 3rd allowed a 2nd run to score and make it 2-0. TSU went quietly in both innings with the wind blowing harder and harder. In the 4th back to back E6s plated 2 more runs and our heroes were starting to lose some steam down 4-0 and displaying some defense that allowed 4 unearned runs. A Tibble double into the wind began to rally the troops in the 4th and scored on another Nemanich scorcher. After a HBP to Gibson, Gerner single to scored Nemanich to make it 4-2. After a Matt Callaghan walk, TSU left the bags loaded, but looked like they had some fight left in them. In the 5th, Gibson gave up a 2-out single, but only threw 7 pitches to throw up a goose egg and keep TSU close. TSU went 1-2-3 in the 5th, but Alex Tibble smashed another shot that might have been a home run on another day, but was gunned down by the wind and was out trying to stretch a single to a double. Gibson then allowed 2 hits to start the 6th inning. Thinking maybe he should be pulled, Coach Gibson then decided to intentionally walk the next hitter to load the bases with nobody out. Gibson then got his strikeout and dribbler up the first base line, but it was just far enough to score the run to make it 5-2. After the retiring the last hitter, Gibson had gone a solid 6 innings and TSU looked to rally in the bottom of the 6th. Garrity lined a shot to SS which popped out of his glove for an E6. After a Nemanich pop out, Schneider was hit by a pitch to put 2 runners on. In a very SCARY moment, Gibson lined a laser beam off the pitcher’s head which immediately stopped the game and scared everyone who witnessed it. Fortunately, the pitcher walked off under his own power and was heading to the emergency for observation. TSU was classy and stopped all runners so no scored on the hit and the bases were now loaded. Gerner followed Gibson’s hit with a ground out to 2nd scoring a run and putting the tying runs on 2nd and 3rd. Matt Callaghan strolled to the plate and launched one into the wind that died and was caught by the right fielder. Suddenly TSU was reeling at 0-3 in the tournament and was scratching their head on their defensive breakdowns and lack of timely hitting. The tournament was over and the likes of Alex Gerner, Alex Tibble, Luke DeBenedetti had not even pitch yet which is amazing. THOUGHTS: Aluminum bats are extremely scary these days when it comes to shots hit back to the pitcher. It was fortunate the LITH pitcher was ok at least as he walked off the field. TOURNAMENT SUMMARY: Lots of positives in the Wasco game lost when thinking about the sloppy D in the 2 games sandwiched around it. 14-6 and needing to regroup this week.
Next up: Plainfield Force (I-80) and Mother’s Day Exhibition Games in Kankakee
Game 19 Wasco 2 Team Sharp 1
Saturday’s Reverse the Curse showdown was with Mr. Ridgeway’s well respected and #1 ranked Wasco team. This matched pitted TSU vs. a team that smoked them 10-0 in 2010 the last time they played and had them looking for the upset on this day. Unfortunately, TSU unexpectedly looked past Wheatland and tripped up in the G1 of this tourney. After wetting down the their leg, losing this game might make them 0-2 and heading home way early before any hardware would be handed out. Tyler Garrity wanted the ball badly and would take the bump for TSU. In the 1st, Luke DeBenedetti and Alex Tibble got things rolling with back-to-back singles. After a Garrity groundout, Nick Nemanich singled in a run to make it 1-0. After a Schneider FC, the Wasco pitched balked home TSU’s second run only have the call reversed and declared a “do over” by and inexperienced 1st year ump. Collin Gibson then lined a single to right field, but Coach Tadd waved a rounding runner too far off 3rd and he was gunned down to end the inning. Wow what could have been. In the bottom of the 1st, a nifty Gibson to DeBenedetti to Schneider twin killing a gave TSU some momentum and preserved the lead. TSU went 1-2-3 in the 2nd and Wasco answered with a basehit and eventually a sac fly to tie it at 1-1. TSU bats went silent in innings 3-6 against some solid pitching only mustering 1 hit by DeBenedetti. His leadoff single in the 3rd was followed by a sensational diving catch by the Wasco catcher on a Alex Tibble bunt attempt that doubled Debo off 1st and shifted some momentum back to Wasco. Their catcher dove up the 3rd base line into fair territory and was a play appreciated by all. If that play isn’t made TSU has runners on 1st and 2nd with its 3-4-5 hitters coming up. Wasco was quiet vs a dealing Tyler Garrity until Zac Mettetal’s towering 300+ ft homerun. Unfortunately Coach Tadd didn’t want him to beat TSU, but elected to let Garrity throw a 3-1 pitch instead of the intentional walk idea and he made TSU pay. Wasco led 2-1 and that is how it would end. Garrity pitched a great game scattering 3 hits to a great hitting team. He struck out 3 and walked 2 during his efficient 65 pitch 5 inning effort. TWIB NOTES: TSU now stands 0-2 for the tourney, but played extremely well quickly forgetting the Duck debacle. Having 3 tough breaks go against them wasn’t easy and things could have been different on another day. Until somebody takes them down, Wasco is still the class of 12U baseball in Illinois along with Mr. Kutt’s Sparks squad and Brian’s Guzek Victory Black squad. TSU now falls to 14-5, but with no shame in losing this one.
Game 18 Wheatland Ducks Gold 7 Team Sharp 6
The 14-3 Sharp Team rolled in the Elgin Reverse the Curse Tournament eyeing a weekend showdown with Illinois’ #1 rated Wasco team. Prior to that Saturday night showdown was a battle with the local Wheatland Ducks Gold squad. This would pit Team Sharp vs. a scrappy Ducks team who had been losing the battle to weather so far this year. Despite their lack of luck with mother nature, Coach Tadd knew this was a well coached and fundamentally sound group. What he didn’t anticipate was TSU’s sudden acts of generosity on defense which was unbelievably tight until this point in the season. The game started with a two out walk to Tyler Garrity and a single by Nick Nemanich. Starting pitcher and former Duck Tim Schneider, laced a 2 run double down the left field line to make it 2-0. The Ducks came back and loaded the bases on 2 walks and a big error. Back-to-back hits plated 3 unearned runs and gave the home team a 3-2 lead. The Team Sharp went scoreless in the 2nd and then Team Sharp’s defensive charity continued. A leadoff double by “Billy” was followed by a wild throw which tipped off the 1st basemen’s glove after a bunt, 2 outs, then another double and another E5 to produce 2 more unearned runs and a 5-2 Ducks lead. The stellar defensive team with only 7 errors in the first 17 games now seemed to look human with 4 errors in the first few inning and was sliding down a slippery slope. TSU went quietly in the 3rd and Schneider matched it with a goose egg of his own. In the 4th, a double by Schneider and a RBI groundout by Gibson who was called out despite actually being a step and a half past 1st base which cost TSU an infield single and another potential run. Chalk that one up to the “1 ump” concept in pool games for tournaments looking to make an extra buck. Schneider pitched around a leadoff double in the 4th to hold the game at 5-3. In the 5th , Matt Callaghan singled and scored on Luke DeBenedetti’s rocket up the middle. After a stolen base, Alex Tibble drilled a laser beam that was snagged by the 2nd basemen and you wondered if it was one of those days. Dylan Loftis relieved Schneider to start the 5th and surrendered a leadoff walk to followed by 2 quick outs. A clutch single by Matthew Helwig produced the Duck’s 1st earned run against TSU to make it 6-4 and another double to gap scored Helwig to close out the Ducks scoring and make it 7-4. TSU wasn’t done in the 6th when Garrity laced a triple to the gap, Schneider then walked and after Gibson strikeout, Gerner laced a 2-run single to inch TSU back within 7-6. With Callaghan at the plate, Gerner was gunned down stealing to end the game. News and Quotes: Tim Schneider (who was 2 for 2 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs) and Collin Gibson had some fun playing versus some Naperville gang. TSU should learn you can’t give away 5 runs early against anyone and expect to win on a regular basis. You might beat this team 9 out of 10 games, but on this day they capitalized, played solid D and deserved to win. Bubble burst now after 2 straight weekend tournament championships dropping us to 14-4…..
Team Sharp vs. Tinley Park Bulldogs (CANCELLED)
Team Sharp vs. Southwest Thunder (CANCELLED)
Game 17 - Team Sharp 8 Windy City Travelers 0
The final game of Day 2 at the Lenz Field “Play the Turf” Easter Weekend tournament had Team Sharp facing the Windy City Travelers. TSU had faced them before in last year’s tournament in a miserable down pour and after an inning and a half in the rain were down 6-0 so there was something to prove. Team Sharp went quietly in the 1st with the only noise being the WC Travelers crowd cheering after a 2-out Collin Gibson basehit quickly resulted in a caught stealing on a perfect throw. Tim Schneider started on the hill for Team Sharp and induced 3 weak groudballs on an array of fastballs and offspeed pitches. TSU was scoreless in the 2nd with 2 Ks as the WC Travelers hurled worked the outside corner like a surgeon with Greg Maddux-like precision. Schneider matched him with a 1-2-3 inning and 2 Ks of his own. In the top of the 3rd a Tyler Garrity single got things started and he scored on an Alex Tibble’s single to make it 1-0. Schneider allowed a walk as his first base runner, but quickly finished off the inning with a strikeout and a comebacker. In the 4th, TSU broke things open. Alex Gerner singled in front of a Vinnie Purpura double which scored AG to make it 2-0. Gibson grounded out to 2nd to plate Purpura and make it 3-0. Red-hot Matt Callaghan and Dylan Loftis both singled sharply in front of Tanner Dissell’s 2-run double. A walk to Garrity and a single by Schneider to help his own cause made it 6-0. Alex Tibble relieved Schneider in the 4th (despite Schneider’s no-hitter) to continue his progress back to full arm strength. Estimated to be at 98.5%, Tibble didn’t disappoint, looking like the Alex Tibble of prior years mixing 3 pitches for strikes and inducing 3 weak groundballs. In the 5th, TSU had ideas it was time to put this one away. Gerner singled, Purpura walked before Gibson and Callaghan produced RBI singles to make it 8-0. Tibble closed out the 5th allowing no hits to complete the no hitter. Next Up: Easter and a date with good eats and some chocolate bunnies. Most of the TSU players wanted to get home right away since the Easter bunny was coming to town.
Game 16 - Team Sharp 4 Jacksonville Lightning 2 (Championship)
The rematch against the Jacksonville Lightning was all set and the it would prove to be the championship game. Coach Tadd spent the prior evening trying to figure out how J’ville scored 10 runs in such a quiet fashion to claim the victory taking advantage of a couple lucky breaks. It was the first time this bunch has given up more than 5 runs all season. The TSU parent community attempted to solve some of the world’s issue over some beverage, but also discussed the merits of Jacksonville’s bat 9 play 9 theory and unfortunately leaving #3 out of the mix for the entire evening. Another fun topic was Coach #54 continual sly attempts to repeatedly steal the signs which all thought would be really helpful to the J’Ville kids as they get older. Ahhh back to the game, Team Sharp held the advantage in least runs allowed which was the standard tie breaker after head to head play meaning only a victory was necessary. TSU showed focused to avenge last night’s tough loss. Tyler Garrity was on the hill coming off a week’s rest and his arsenal of pitches looked “SHARP” in warm-ups. TSU would face the J’ville closer who finished out last night’s game and was tagged around a bit before recording the final out on a nasty curve. In the 1st, a 2 out single by Garrity was erased in a caught stealing leaving Nick Nemanich standing at home plate. Garrity then pitched around a 2-out single himself with no harm done. Nemanich then led off the 2nd with a towering home run over the dead centerfield wall that by a Ron Tibble account landed 60 or 70 ft beyond the fence line. An Alex Gerner single and a stolen base set the stage for a red-hot Matt Callaghan 2 out clutch single up the middle in make it 2-0 and foreshadow some late game heroics. Garrity pitched around a single in the 2nd to keep in 2-0. TSU went quietly in the 3rd and then J’Ville started to make some noise. After 2 were out, Whalen (the pesky JL leadoff) who won the game the night before with his bases clearing double, single to start a rally. Then a seeing eye single between 1st and 2nd on some miscommunication coupled by a held ball and wild throw in the outfield made it 2-1 with a runner on 3rd. J’ville’s best hitter (Wood) strode to the plate and laced a no doubt about it single to left to tie the game at 2. The game remained that way until the the 6th when Collin Gibson coaxed a hard fought walk on a 3-2 pitch. With 2 out, Callaghan launched a high fastball deep over the left centerfield fence for his 2nd homerun of the tournament and biggest hit of his young Paul O’Neill-like career. Rumor has it this clutch blow sent one J’ville fair weather parent walking through the field to the parking lot thus giving up on the local heroes. Garrity seemed to get stronger in the 4th and 5th innings as he didn’t allow a hit and now smelled victory as he headed for the 6th. After a leadoff single, Garrity beared down for a K which might brought a tear to the batter’s eye as he mumbled his way back to the dugout. Then the game ended in exciting fashion with a 1-6-3 double play and clinched some hardware for Team Sharp. Garrity’s dominance was easily seen as he scattered 6 hits, struckout 10 and walk none. Notes: Callaghan’s clutch hitting and continued development are fun to watch. Collin Gibson should leave his spikes 200 miles north of every tournament and Dorothy’s red shoes should remain on his feet until his pitching and hitting cool off.
Game 15 - Jacksonville Lightning 10 Team Sharp 7
In G2 in the Play the Turf Easter Weekend Classic, TSU would do battle with a solid Jacksonville Lightning team who had already played some tough competition this year. Little did Team Sharp know they would be battling a different type of lightning in the form of Mother Nature as well. Alex Gerner got the start on the mound and looked “Sharp” in the top of the 1st inning with 2 Ks and a feeble ground ball. The Sharpies also went 1-2-3 in the first despite hitting 3 balls pretty hard. In the top of the 2nd inning, Jacksonville’s cleanup hitter started things off with a seeing eye single between short and third. After a near double play just yielded the force out of the lead runner, Gerner fell behind 2-0 to J’ville hitter which would be the end of play for nearly an hour due to Mother Nature’s lightning off in the distance. Upon returning, the gutsy Gerner walked the hitter on a close 3-2 pitch to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Gerner’s next offering was a high fastball the #7 hitter which was deposited over the left field fence for a 3-run HR and a quick 3-0 lead. TSU mustered a Collin Gibson single and an Alex Gerner walk in the 2nd, but couldn’t move them around to score. Gerner returned to the mound and threw an efficient and quick scoreless 3rd. Team Sharp came roaring back in the 3rd with a Dylan Loftis single and a Vinnie Purpura walk to set the table. Tanner Dissell then sat down to eat with a double scoring both runners to make it 3-2. Luke DeBenedetti then ground out to score Dissell and tie the game at 3. With no one on, the Sharpies were done as #3 hitter Tyler Garrity stepped to the plate and launched a line drive home run over the left center field fence to give TSU a 4-3 lead. Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last as 2 walks on close calls led J’ville to having runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. A straying runner off 3rd drew a laser throw from Alex Tibble, but the runner actually shielded the 3B from the throw in a minor collusion and both runs scored to give the home team a 5-4 lead despite mustering only 3 hits to this point. Back-to-back doubles by Gibson and Callaghan which one hopped the fence tied the game quickly at 5, but TSU couldn’t bring Callaghan around with the lead run. Gerner then breezed through the 5th inning looking stronger than ever, but TSU went down on 4 pitches scorching 3 balls right at would be defenders in the bottom of the 5th. With a tough decision looming, Coach Gibson “let the gutsy and mature Gerner finish what he started” and go back out for the 6th. He allowed a scratch single to start the inning and then sandwiched 2 Ks around 2 walks to load the bases in a 5-5 tie. After a brief mound visit, the J’ville leadoff hitter lofted a flyball to right center in the gale force winds that dropped just out of the reach of the TSU centerfielder scoring all 3 runs and allowing the hitter to reach 3rd. After removing Gerner, a basehit and a balk plated two more to make it 10-5 J’ville despite having only 6 hits. With J’ville’s closer ready to come in, TSU didn’t give up in the bottom of the 6th. Garrity and Nemanich started the rally with unselfish walks. After a Schneider grounded, Gibson recorded his 6th hit of the day with a single down the right field line to score 2 and make it 10-7. After an Alex Gerner infield single and a Matt Callaghan single loaded the bases with one out the rallied came up short, but would send a message for later in the tournament. Notes: This was one of those games that you felt like you out played the other team, rarely struck out at the plate, only allowed a few hits yet looked up on the score board and they had 10 runs. It should be noted that this is the first time all year a team has scored more than 5 runs against a tough TSU pitching staff. TSU will now have to worry about “RUNS ALLOWED” and beat Jacksonville along with the Windy City Travelers on Saturday to take home a championship for a 2nd consecutive weekend. Team Sharp drops to 12-3 on the season.
Game 14 - Team Sharp 7 Southwestern Illinois Athletics Travel Baseball 0
Well, Easter weekend was underway and the long Friday drive to Jacksonville, IL was one full of rain and parent grumblings that this might be a long way to drive just to drink beer. Somehow, 10 minutes outside of Jacksonville the baseball gods cleared the skies and said, “Let there be baseball”. Collin Gibson was slated to take the hill in game 1 vs. the Southwestern Illinois Athletics Travel Baseball. Fortunately, the answer to his question posed to the Gibson Family shortly before pulling into the Lenz Field parking lot of “Did anyone bring my spikes” didn’t foreshadow the weekend. After sending mom scrambling to find some spikes in local sporting goods store, Coach Debo came up with some aged, bright red “St. Joe’s specials” which would end up being lucky all weekend. The Sharpies won the toss and elected to be visitors against a tall lanky 6’ footer, but went down 1-2-3 in the first. Gibson answered with 3 feeble groundballs of his own to keep things scoreless. In the 2nd, Nick Nemanich and Tim Schneider walked and moved up to 2nd and 3rd on a wild pitch. Gibson then lined a single past the out stretched arm of the 2nd basemen for a 2-run single and a 2-0 lead. Dylan Loftis then single in Gibson to make it 3-0. Gibson allowed a scratch hit in the 2nd, but Schneider gunned down a would be stealer and A’s went again 1-2-3. In the 3rd, Tanner Dissell led off with a double, but was gunned down at 3rd trying to advance on a wild pitch. TSU quickly rebounded with Luke DeBenedetti and Alex drawing walks and Tyler Garrity’s single DeBenedetti. Tim Schneider single loaded the bases and then Gibson added another 2-run single to go up 6-0. Gibson continued good control with 2 Ks in the 3rd. Matt Callaghan launched a towering home run to lead off the 4th for TSU to make it 7-0 and finish the scoring on the day. Gibson breezed through the 4th and 5th to complete his day facing the minimum 15 batters striking out 5 and walking 0. Nick Nemanich finished up the 6th with a scoreless frame. Next up: A night day double header with the Jacksonville Lightning and rematch of the 2010 rain soaked Windy City Travelers game. News and Quotes: Rumors swirled that this team played 12u, 13u and some kids even play 14u and were used to 54/80 so this was gonna be fun for them which we are pretty sure the fun never materialized.
Team Sharp vs. Victory Black (at Inwood) - CANCELLED
Game 13 - Team Sharp 12 Lockport Vipers 1(Championship)
It was championship Sunday at a small local baseball tournament at Troy. Might not seem significant to the common 12u travel baseball fan, but it was for Team Sharp. The significance centered around TSU dropping consecutive championship games the past two Sundays to teams not necessarily better than our beloved Sharpies. This game also had some meaning to Coach Tadd after last year’s squad ate 36 lbs of picnic food after winning the first two games at the Kankakee Mother’s Day special and then came out flatter than a IHOP pancake and lost to these same Lockport Vipers 8-1. This would not be a day TSU would be lethargic especially after a convincing semifinal win over Victory Gold. TSU newcomer, Tyler Garrity hadn’t pitched all tournament and was pumped up to bring home some 1st place hardware. Lockport won the toss, selected to be home and then Lukey D went right to work drawing a walk. Alex Tibble remained hot and doubled to left center. After a pitching change and with runners on 2nd and 3rd, Garrity helped his own cause by lacing a double to the gap to score 2 and put TSU up 2-0. Lockport answered with back-to-back doubles in their bottom half of the inning to make it a 2-1 game. Garrity and Lockport reliever Kevin Phelan then counter punched each other through the next 3 scoreless frames. Phelan used an assortment of pitches and speeds to keep TSU off balance and was supported with some outstanding defense to keep the Sharpies scoreless despite a number of base runners heading into the 5th inning. In the top of the 5th, Matt Callaghan lofted a bloop single down the left field line. Tanner Dissell followed with a sharp line drive up the middle which then scooted through the centerfielder’s legs to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. DeBenedetti calmed stepped up and avenged an earlier strikeout with 2 guys on by stroking a 2-run double all the way to the wall to make it 4-1. Tibble singled in Debo, Garrity singled, Nick Nemanich walked to load the bases. Fresh off some ESP home run derby, Tim Schneider then lined a double to the gap to clear the bases. Collin Gibson was then robbed of a hit on another great play by the left side of the Lockport infield that plated Schneider to make it 9-1. Lockport then went quietly in the 5th and Matt “the ignitor” Callaghan then doubled to the base of the 250’ sign in dead centerfield to start the TSU 6th. After 2 were out, Debo and Tibs walked to load the bases again for Mr. Garrity. Garrity proceeded to cap at 3-4 day with another double to give him 4 RBIs and TSU an 11-1 lead. A Nick Nemanich missile plated Garrity to make it 12-1 and complete the scoring for this day. Collin Gibson pitched a scoreless 6th to complete the win and start the picture taking ceremony. For the first time in awhile, Garrity had the opportunity to start and dominate on a Championship Sunday. He went 5 innings strong, scattering 3 hits, striking out 5 and walking 2. TSU moves to 11-2 on the young season heading into this week’s I-80 action facing Victory Black at Inwood on Wednesday (4/20) at 8pm. Then it’s off to Lenz Field for some team bonding and drinks at the Ugly Toad. Kudos to the Troy Baseball organization for all the parent volunteers and running a nice tournament. Brian Boggetto had the fields in great shape after all the rain and cancellation on Saturday. Boy do those tarps come in handy!! Special condolences to the 8U Young Gunz losing a tough game in the semifinals. Don’t worry you guys will win more than your share of tournaments!!
Game 12 - Team Sharp 12 Victory Gold 5
Well the 2011 Troy Titan Spring Classic semifinals were all set after Friday and Saturdays rainouts of everyone’s 3rd pool game. Team Sharp had neatly taken care of business its first two games by a combined score of 32-2, but didn’t envision an upstart Lockport Vipers team giving up only 1 run and winning the tiebreaker for the #1 pool seed. As a result in the crossover pool format, this would pit TSU vs. Victory Gold. This turn of events ruined some preseason planning and banter between the coaching staffs about playing each other for an early season title when they didn’t know who the other teams competing would be. Ok enough about the pre-season and back to the on-field activities. The infield was in great shape despite the weather and this one was set to be a 48’ mound pitchers dual. The game would pit 2 former Plainfield Diamondkings against each other on the hill. Both left via free agency when payroll was downsized and a new stadium deal could not be cut with the city of Plainfield. Ultimately, they tested the free agent waters as Class A free agents and cost each new team a 2012 draft pick after signing them. Victory would be the home team as the higher seed from the other pool just as Coach Tadd loves to play it. Lukey D got it rolling with solid single to left center start the contest, then an Alex Tibble single and an E5 on a Tyler Garrity groundball quickly loaded the bases. A Nick Nemanich walk got the scoring started, then a Tim Schneider HBP and a Collin Gibson RBI groundout to the right side made it 3-0. Alex Gerner then helped his cause launching a 2-run double off the left center field fence to make it 5-0 TSU. Victory then brought in a tough reliever to slow the TSU offense. Gerner started the game in efficient fashion needing 6 pitches to go 1-2-3. Both teams went scoreless in the 2nd with Gerner throwing 5 more pitches. In the 3rd, a Schneider single coupled with his stolen base, a Gibson throw the hands 2 –strike ground out to the right side and a Gerner sac fly plated run #6 in a basic baseball fashion. Gerner breezed through the next 2 innings giving him a total of 42 pitches in 4 innings of work. In the TSU fifth, Tibble remained hot and singled to left center, stole 2nd, went to 3rd on a wild pitch and scored on Garrity’s towering sac fly to make it 7-0. Gerner finished up his day with a 9 pitch inning and he exited with a touchdown lead. After another Victory pitching change, Gerner walked, Dylan Loftis singled and Matt Callaghan tripled in both runs before scoring himself on a wild pitch to make it 10-0. Tibble then singled to complete a 3 for 3 outing, Garrity was hit by a pitch and then Nick Nemanich doubled them in to make it 12-0 and complete the TSU scoring. Victory Gold didn’t give up and plated 5 runners in their final 2 at bats including a bases clearing double by Kyle Shields and an RBI single by the famous and former St. Joe’s rockstar Madi Mulder. Mulder also breezed through her inning on the mound with a 1-2-3 efficient work of TSU hitters. On this day in G1, TSU showed up to play and earned the right to play in the championship later on with a 12-5 victory. Hopefully their focus during a two break will remain on the task at hand.
Notes & Quotes: Alex Tibble and Tim Schneider went 3 for 3 each with 3 frozen ropes which for those that remember isn’t allowed to be said on any field near Dyer, Indiana. Kudos to Kyle Shields who got good aluminum on the ball in all 3 plate appearances.
Team Sharp vs. Lockport Vipers (at Troy)- POOL PLAY RAINOUT
Game 11 - Team Sharp 11 Troy Titans (Daugherity) 1
In G2 of pool play in the Troy Tournament, Team Sharp would do battle with one of the host team Troy – Daugherity. Fresh off an Orland Magic victory, Coach Tadd had decided to pitch 7 pitchers 1 inning to get used to the 48’ mound with pending bad weather approaching for the weekend. Luke DeBenedetti started on the mound and pitched a solid 1-2-3 inning. DeBenedetti also continued his mastery of the leadoff position, seeing both lots of pitches and getting on base a very high % of the time with a “deep in the count” leadoff double. Alex Tibble reached on an E4 to put 2 runners on for old reliable Tyler Garrity to hit his regularly scheduled 2-run double to get things rolling for Team Sharp. After Nemanich and Schneider reached on errors, Gibson walked and then Gerner reached on the 4th error of the inning and it was suddenly 4-0 TSU. Collin Gibson threw a 7 pitch 2nd inning to keep the score 7-0 after 2. In the Team Sharp half of the second, Vinnie Purpura led off with a single which proceeded back-to-back doubles by DeBenedetti and Tibble to make it 6-0. Nick Nemanich’s solid single plated Tibble with the 7th run of the game. Tim Schneider pitched an uneventful and scoreless 3rd to keep up the efficient mound work for Team Sharp. TSU put some ducks on the pond in the 3rd, but came away empty after a couple of nice defensive plays by Troy to end the inning. Dylan Loftis pitch a great 4th inning, but 2 Team Sharp miscues allowed one run to score to make it 7-1. In the 4th, TSU plated its 8th run of the game on a double by Tibble and an error on a hot shot off the bat of Garrity. Matt Callaghan look sharp when he came on to pitch in the 5th and walked 1 before striking out the last 2 Troy hitters. All those offseason backyard mound sessions seem to be paying off for the young lefthander out of Joliet. The 5th inning was quiet for the Sharpies and then Nick Nemanich came on to close the door. Nemanich was pitching back-to-back days and mowed down the Troy hitters to keep it at 8-1. In the bottom of the 6th, Purpura laced a single which was followed by a rocket single off the bat of Tanner Dissell to put runners and 1st and 3rd. DeBo’s single plated Purpura and Tibble’s 3rd double of the game scored Dissell and DeBo to envoke the 10-run rule and end the game at 11-1. Tournament Notes: Team Sharp has looked strong in the first 2 games winning by a combined 32-2 and should be positioning itself nicely for a final pool game showdown with the Lockport Vipers and a #1 seed in the semifinals on the line.
Game 10 - Team Sharp 21 Orland Magic 1
It was time for the 2011 Troy Tournament opener and the opponent was the Orland Magic. Up until a couple days before the tournament Coach Tadd had no idea which Orland team this was, but still remembered the 4-3 8 inning battle the 2 Orland teams had last July in their own tournament in front of a waiting TSU team. Anyway, the opponent would be Orland’s second team and Coach Gibson elected to go with Nick Nemanich on the hill for his 1st start of the 2011 season. TSU showed up to play and opened up the scoring with a crazy long 12-run, 7 hit display in first inning. After Luke DeBenedetti reached on a dropped 3rd strike to start the game things went downhill for the Magic. Alex Tibble then walked and Tyler Garrity roped a double to score 2. Two pitches later Nemanich helped his own cause with a towering 2-run homer to make it 4-0. An Alex Gerner single coupled with a Matt Callaghan single and Dylan Loftis walk loaded the bases with 2 outs. Vinnie Purpura’s hot smash to SS was fumbled to give Team Sharp a 5-0 lead. Tanner Dissell’s walk forced in a run before DeBenedetti cleared the bases with a double and made it 9-0. Tibble’s grounder to 2B was bobbled for an error in front of Garrity’s 2nd 2-run double of the inning to make it 11-0. Nemanich capped the inning with another shot that didn’t leave the yard, but was a double scoring Garrity to make it 12-0 after a ½ inning of play. In the bottom of the 1st, the Magic’s #2 hitter laced one in the gap, but the relayed from the OF to 2B to 3B was one of beauty to nail the runner trying to sneak in a triple. Nemanich finished off the inning with a comfortable lead and a big smile on his face. In the TSU 2nd, Coach Tibble arrived thinking maybe the scoreboard was malfunctioning and not working with the 12-0 score. Much to his surprise the score was right and TSU wasn’t done. In the second, a Callaghan single, a Loftis walk and another Purpura fumbled shot for an E4 loaded the bases. Dissell single in a run and then DeBenedetti got an RBI on a FC before Tibble’s RBI grounder completed the scoring in the 2nd inning for a 15-0 lead. In the Magic 2nd, Nemanich saw the bases get loaded with no outs only to strike out 3 consecutive hitters and keep them scoreless. TSU went quietly in the 3rd and Matt Callaghan came on to pitch. Callaghan allowed 1 run and left the bases loaded with 2 key outs to keep the game at 15-1. In the Team Sharp 4th, Loftis singled, Purpura double and Dissell was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no body out. DeBenedetti’s ball to SS was ruled an E6 and plate one run. Tibble then ripped a 2 –run double to make it 18-1 and Garrity singled in 2 to give him 6 RBIs on the day. Nemanich singled in Garrity to make it 21-1. Both Garrity and Nemanich had 3 hits to lead the 15 hit parade. Alex Gerner and Matt Callaghan both had 2 hits. Next up: Tournament Host Troy – Daugherity. Lesson Learned: Coach Tadd needs to be communicate better when he wants to run for a pitcher late in the game.
Game 9 - Aurora Starzz Red 4 Team Sharp 1 (Championship)
Game 8 - Team Sharp 8 McHenry County Outlaws 4
Game 7 - Team Sharp 12 Aurora Starzz Blue 5
Game 6 - Team Sharp 13 DBA Titans 0
Game 5 - Team Sharp 4 McHenry County Outlaws 2
Game 4 - McHenry County Hurricanes 4 Team Sharp 1 (Championship)
Game 3 - Team Sharp 10 Lake County Bombers 5
Game 2 - Team Sharp 12 Norwood Giants 2
Game 1 - Team Sharp 6 McHenry County Hurricanes 5
REMINDER: Practice at Sharp Sports on Sundays from 5-6:30pm
INDIVIDUAL LESSONS: To be determined each week
I would like to take this opportunity to announce the 2011 Team Sharp 12U roster. Thank you to all players and families who expressed interest in playing for Team Sharp in 2011.
Team Sharp has added the following new families: Scott and Diane Gerner (Alex) and Shawn and Jen Garrity (Tyler). WELCOME TO ALL OF YOU GUYS!!!!
The roster is as follows:
1. Nick Nemanich #14
2. Matt Callaghan #12
3. Luke DeBenedetti #5
4. Collin Gibson #2
5. Dylan Loftis #10
6. Vinnie Purpura #30
7. Tim Schneider #32
8. Alex Tibble #4
9. Tyler Garrity #88 (formerly of the Plainfield DiamondKings)
10. Alex Gerner #9 (formerly of the Plainfield DiamondKings)
Coaching Staff: Tadd Gibson, Darin DeBenedetti, Shawn Garrity and Ron Tibble (when available)
Scorebook and Website Blogger: Ron Tibble
2010 Team Sharp News
Team Sharp RIGHT ON TARGET - Joliet Herald News
July 29, 2010
From Staff Reports
ROCKFORD -- The Team Sharp 11U baseball team won the Caliendo Sports Team Exposure Invitational.
Team Sharp beat the Janesville (Wis.) Hornets 16-2. Collin Gibson pitched the win. He struck out 4 and allowed 2 hits and 1 run in 4 innings. Luke DeBenedetti and Alex Tibble had 3 hits including a triple, double, 3 runs, and RBIs. Tim Schneider (double, 2 RBIs) and John Parker (2 RBIs) also had 3 hits. Vin Purpura (3 runs, 2 RBIs) and Nick Nemanich (RBI) added 2 hits.
Team Sharp downed Sun Prairie Red (Wis.) 16-5. Dylan Loftis pitched the win. He doubled in a run. Tim Schneider had 3 hits, including a triple. DeBenedetti (double, 3 RBIs), Nemanich (double, 2 RBIs), and Gibson (3 RBIs, 2 runs) contributed 2 hits. Brad Roberts doubled and Purpura drove in 2 runs. Team Sharp then defeated the McHenry County Outlaws 12-2. Schneider went 4 innings on the mound and gave up 1 earned run to get the win. Schneider went 2-for-3 with a double and 2 RBIs. Jeremy Nichols (double, 3 RBIs), Roberts (RBI) and Nemanich (double, RBI) all had 2 hits. Tibble reached base three times. Team Sharp won the title with a 7-5 win over the Outlaws. Loftis pitched 5 scoreless innings of relief to help his team rally from a 5-0 first-inning deficit. He allowed 2 hits. Nemanich had 2 hits, including a game-tying triple. He drove in 4 runs.
DeBenedetti walked twice, doubled and scored 3 runs. Tibble, Schneider, and Gibson drove in runs. Team Sharp Sports finished the season 48-21 and won three tournament crowns with two second-place finishes.
Team Sharp 2010 Accomplishments:
1) 3 Tournament Championships
2) 2 Tournament Runnerup/2nd place
3) 5 3rd place/Semifinals
Congratulations to Team Sharp for their recent victories over the Lockport Cobras and Southside Express to move their record to 4-5 and finish in 6th place of the I80 Premier League. Congrats to Victory Black for winning the toughest league in the state. Team Sharp finished behind Victory, Plainfield Diamondkings, both Illinois Sparks team and Sportworx (Indiana) and those 5 teams account for all the TSU mid-week I80 league losses.
2010 11U Team Exposure Caliendo Sports Invitational (1st Place)
2010 11U Orland Magic Tournament (Semifinal loss)
2010 11U Plainfield Invitational Tournament (Semifinal loss)
2010 11U Notre Dame Golden Dome Showdown (1st Place - rainshortened)
2010 11U Schaumburg Flyers Summer Classic (2nd Place)
2010 11U North Aurora Classic (3rd Place)
2010 11U Rockford May Day Classic (2nd Place)
2010 11U West Chicago Pre-Season Championships(1st Place)
2010 11U Ho Chunk Season Tip-off (Semifinal loss in extra innings)
2010 11U Lenz Field "Play the Turf" (3rd Place)
Summaries to Follow
Record to Date: 48-21
Game 69 Team Sharp 7 McHenry Outlaws 5
In the 69th and final game of the 2010 11u campaign, Team Sharp would play for the Caliendo Sports Invitational title against the McHenry County Outlaws in Rockford. McHenry and its raucous crowd were ready to avenge earlier losses to TSU (3 to be exact). The Sharpies wanted to end on a high note and take home some wooden bats for the trophy cases and erase some sour aftertaste of near misses of Rockford tourneys past. Luke DeBenedetti walked and stole second to lead off the game. Alex Tibble sacrificed him to third and RBI machine Nick Nemanich drove DeBo in from third for an early 1-0 lead. Tibble got the call in hopes his big game toughness would hold out over some recurring late season arm weariness. A leadoff single and triple by the Outlaws quickly tied the game 1-1. After one out, a catchers interference put a runner on first. The next hitter drilled in two runs with a double to make it 3-1. An error on a groundball to second allowed run number 4 to cross the plate. Tibble got the next hitter looking for out #2 but gave up a laser beam triple that drove in the fifth run of the first inning. McHenry's crowd erupted and had reason to believe this was the day. Tibble thankfully got out of the first with a strikeout. Outlaws-5 Team Sharp-1. McHenry knocked down TSU 1-2-3 in the top of the second. Coach Gibson correctly assessed that his starter's fastball lacked its usual life and made the pitching change to Dylan Loftis in the bottom of the second. Loftis was enjoying a late season run of good control and effectiveness. He didn't disappoint. He coaxed three ground ball outs in 9 pitches to help get the game back on firm ground. The boys came back to the dugout with a more determined and less shellshocked look on their faces. Matt Callaghan walked and stole second to lead off the top of the 3rd. After two fly outs in a row, John Parker and DeBenedetti drew clutch walks to load the bases. Tibble promptly laced an rbi single to cut the deficit to 5-2. More importantly it extended the inning to the always dangerous Nick Nemanich. On the first pitch, he sliced a medium deep drive toward the right fielder. The stiff crosswind grabbed it, however, and sent it sailing away from the RF. Our dugout held its breath and exploded when it landed about two feet inside the foul line and kicked hard to the right for a three run, game tying triple. Amazing how quickly our guys gathered themselves from the first inning adventure and tied the game at 5. Loftis kept the momentum on our side by working around a lead off walk and shutting out the Outlaws in the bottom of the 3rd. The 4th and 5th innings saw no action from either team. 5-5 score heading to the top of 6. Luke D. started off things with a double. With one out, Nemanich was walked. Tim Schneider and Collin Gibson ripped back to back rbi singles to make it a 7-5 TSU lead. The inning ended when Loftis scorched a liner to second that was caught and turned into an unassisted double play. Loftis came out in the bottom of the 6th and got the first two hitters to strike out and roll out to short. The next hitter singled and stole second. On a 1-1 pitch to McHenry's three hitter, Loftis got another ground ball to shortstop Luke DeBenedetti. It was slow and took a tricky hop at the end. Luke sensed he couldn't get the runner at first and faked the throw. The runner from second tried to score with an aggressive turn around third when he felt DeBenedetti was going to first with it. Luke took a few steps forward and threw to the plate where catcher Tim Schneider made a beautiful catch and tag to end a hard fought game with Team Sharp on top 7-5. What a way to end the season on a bang bang play at the plate!! Coach Tadd took a gatorade bath and we took home the wooden bats. 48-21 was the final record.
The 2010 season had more ups than downs. The boys improved by 14 wins over the 2009 season. Trumping the wins was the fact that the four months they spent with one another was an enjoyable process. Each player brought something different to the table personality-wise and not every player meshes well with every teammate, but it's always gratifying to watch them celebrate together, experience turbulence together, travel, eat, and mature together. With Team Sharp sometimes elevator tag, swimming pools, sleepovers, and BF Wings are looked more forward to than the games. This is a good thing. This means they enjoy each other and are creating memories and friendships that will far outlast their baseball careers. Ask any ex-athlete what they miss the most and unanimously they say the guys, the camaraderie, and the good times that were parallel to the competitions. Thanks to Coach Tadd and Darin for creating a nice balance between the games and real life. No one will ever accuse this outfit of being too tight a ship. It's our ship and we like it that way.
Notes and Quotes: Team Leaders for 2010 season: Batting Avg: Nick Nemanich .545 Tim Schneider .422. Home Runs: Nemanich 4 Matt Callghan 3. RBIS: Nemanich 107(yes, 107) Schneider 63. Triples: Nemanich 7 Callaghan 5. Doubles: Schneider 19 Nemanich 18. Steals: Luke DeBenedetti 66 Alex Tibble 64. Runs: Luke D. 92 Alex T. 90. Wins: Collin Gibson/Dylan Loftis 11 Alex Tibble 10. ERA: Schneider 2.78 DeBenedetti 3.76. Innings: Loftis 83 Gibson 74. Strikeouts: Loftis 68 Gibson 54.
Next Up: A long winter of rest for this writer and thoughts of a special 2011 12u season.
Game 68 Team Sharp 12 McHenry Outlaws 2
The third and final pool play game at the Caliendo Sports Invitational in Rockford would be against the McHenry County Outlaws. Since we saw them in April, they have played well and won a state championship tournament in Illinois. They boast some big hitters and a few pitchers that bring the heat. In the top of the first, Team Sharp struck first. Luke DeBenedetti and Alex Tibble each singled to start the inning. DeBenedetti scored on a wild pitch and Tibble was driven in by an rbi groundout from starting pitcher Tim Schneider. McHenry tied it at 2 in the bottom of the first by lacing a triple and double in the gaps. Dylan Loftis walked, stole second and scored on an errant throw to start the second inning. Brad Roberts singled, Vin Purpura walked, and Jeremy Nichols nailed a two rbi double to make it 5-2 Sharp. Schneider held the Outlaws to a goose egg in the bottom of the inning to keep the 3 run lead intact. The top of the third inning was the home to another TSU explosion. Alex Tibble walked and stole second to lead things off. Nick Nemanich hammered a double to knock home Tibble and make it 6-2. Tim Schneider helped his own cause by ripping another double to push the lead to 7-2. After walks to Collin Gibson and Dylan Loftis to load the bases, Brad Roberts singled in a run to make it 8-2 Sharpies. Matt Callaghan drove in another run with a fielder's choice. Jeremy Nichols wrapped up the scoring in the third with an rbi single. The lead was 11-2 heading to the bottom of 3. Tim Schneider retired 6 of the last 7 hitters and Sharp added a run in the fourth to make it a quick/clean four inning win. Nick Nemanich(double, rbi), Tim Schneider(double, 2 rbi, 2 sb), Brad Roberts(rbi, run), and Jeremy Nichols(double, 3 rbi) each had two hits to lead the offense. Alex Tibble reached base three times, stole 3 bases, and scored 3 runs. The win makes it 47-21 for Team Sharp. Let's hope it's not another near miss in Rockford after a solid pool play performance from the good guys.
Next Up: McHenry Outlaws in a re-re-re match to determine the Caliendo Invitational Champion and take home the prized individual Championship woodbats.
Game 67 Team Sharp 16 Sun Prairie Red (WI) 5
In game two of the TSU vs. Wisconsin double dip at Rockford, we would face the RED from Sun Prarie. The Packer backers jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning off starter Dylan Loftis. Team Sharp countered quickly in the top of the 2nd with a six spot to make it 6-3. The boys from Illi-noise never looked back after that and ran away with a 16-5 win. Loftis settled down and struck out four in 3 innings to earn the win. Tim Schneider and Luke DeBenedetti were solid in relief to nail down the win with no drama. Schneider led the attack with three hits including a triple and two runs scored. Collin Gibson(3 rbi, 2 runs, sb), DeBenedetti(double, 3 rbi, run, steal), and Nick Nemanich(double, 2 rbi, run) all collected two hits. Dylan Loftis and Brad Roberts doubled. Vin Purpura drove in two and scored two. With a 2-0 pool record and things were looking good with a rematch against a solid McHenry team waiting in the wings. They likely have revenge on their minds. In two early season tilts at West Chicago, we scored 40 runs against them in two games to win the title. It seemed like a case of us being really hot as a team at that time. They were a better team than what they showed in those contests. Rumors are flying McHenry won one of the 100 tournaments with Illinois State Championships in the title so they will be feeling pretty good about themselves. We may give birth to a rivalry on the last day of the 2010 baseball season.
Game 66 Team Sharp 16 Janesville Hornets(WI) 2
On July 17th, 2010, TSU made the trip up state police infested Rt. 39 for the final adventure of the 11u season. The Caliendo Sports Invitational would be giving out engraved wood bats to the champs and the guys wanted to end the season with style. Rockford has been host to some very good tournament performances from the Sharpies the last few seasons, but no titles have come back to our home turf. With near misses in the past, the boys turned their attention to the Janesville(WI) Hornets. Team sharp went to work immediately and methodically hammered out 18 hits in a 16-2 5 inning win. Collin Gibson delivered a crisp four innings of work allowing only two hits, striking out four and walking one. He survived a scare early on when a high pop up to the mound got lost in the sun by all involved and hit him smack in the middle of the forehead at 122 miles per hour. He was wobbled but stayed in the contest. Truth be told, despite his grandfather's begging to remove him from the game and consider a trip to the emergency room, his control and concentration was improved after the skull vs. rawhide collision. He closed the inning with a pissed off strikeout and a proclamation he could go another inning. Lesson learned is as a pitcher never just point in the air at a pop up and then look up just prior to gravity's pull back to earth. Ultimately, he continued to hit the glove in the middle. Back to the game and hitting side of things, 1-2 hitters Luke DeBenedetti and Alex Tibble each had three hits including a double, triple, rbi, and 3 runs scored. Tibble added two steals. Tim Schneider(double, 2 rbi) and John Parker(2 rbi, sb) added three hits each. Vin Purpura(2 rbi, 3 runs, 3 steals) and Nick Nemanich(rbi, 2 runs) had two hits. Matt Callaghan and Jeremy Nichols also drove in a run for the winners. Callaghan closed out the game in the fifth with two K's. That kid may be a pitcher someday. On a beautiful day in Rockford, Team Sharp showed no signs of mentally leaving the building early. The x-box dungeons, swimming pools, and chat rooms will have to wait for a few days.
Next Up: Sun Prarie(WI) Red
Notes and Quotes: With the win, TSU pushed their record to 45-21 and completed the "Drive for 45". While 45 wins may seem like a modest goal, it marked an 11 win improvement from 2009. It was looked at as where we wanted to land in our sophomore season as a team and the kids/coaches worked hard to get there.
Game 65 Lisle Wolves 6 Team Sharp 5
In the realm of travel baseball, there are realities that every team faces. Busy weekends where 5 games are played in 48 hours are commonplace. Long rides to big box complexes that serve as the locations for major money making tournaments. At times, the swirl of competition, excitement, and summer heat can make the season kind of go by without the players being able to slow down and appreciate things. Team Sharp's trip to Lisle to face the 11u Wolves at a beautiful old fashioned field at Lisle Park District was a rare opportunity during the season to play a non league, no pressure, 8pm one game affair in the middle of the week. This was similar to the old days when you heard mom calling from down the street that it was time to come home at 10pm. The faces of our players were a bit more relaxed as they sat on top of the dugouts waiting for the local Lisle 8u pinto league game to wrap up. TSU was a little more conversational with one another than normal. There were reports of multiple sentences uttered by both Nick and Timmy during the pre game festivities. It was also a chance as parents to see our kids looked at differently by players from the game that preceded ours. As the dugouts full of 7 and 8 year olds cleared with the sun setting behind them beyond the left field wall, they walked by our guys and kind of gawked at them like they were bigshots. It was weird to see our bunch looked at as the older, more dangerous flock of baseball players when we where just like them winning travel tournaments as 8u and 9u players a few short years ago. Time doesn't slow down for anyone and moments like these remind us of that. How quickly the hodge podge of 2nd graders from teams like Batis, Milano, and Turk Furniture at St. Joes morphed into Team Sharp 11u. In 2 years when I reflect on a moment like this the boys will have hair on parts of their body which were once seal skin smooth, talk of chicks and HS will be in the air. For this brief innocent moment, these boys were excited to take the field in pre-game and it was easy to see why. The infield and outfield grass was green and freshly cut, the infield dirt was free of clods and the baselines were remarked freshly. The dugouts were actually about 3 feet in the ground and arranged close to the plate and not 40 feet past first and third base like we sometimes see. This was a far cry from the Field of Screams nestled behind JCA high school that TSU occasionally calls home. If you are looking for a reason why our team is successful, you could see our team was excited to play and happy to be together. We ended up losing the game 6-5 too a scrappy undersized, well coached team who was obviously pumped up to play TSU. But, with that said and truth be told, it was a good night. Nick Nemanich's three run rocket home run into the pine trees with two outs in the top of the seventh to tie it 5-5 was high on the list of 2010 moments and almost sent Coach Tadd into cardiac arrest. Brad Roberts started to heat up with a couple doubles and drove in a run. The ever so steady Tim Schneider doubled and drove in a run during his normal daily course of business and Alex Tibble scored and drove in a run. The Caliendo Sports Invitational in Rockford would be the last event of the summer starting in Rockford on Saturday the 17th of July. In spite of the loss which dropped our season record to 44-21, the boys walked to the cars with a little pep in their steps. Within 3 minutes of leaving the park, I was requested to turn up the radio in the war wagon for some great song. I looked in the rear view and Cal, Alex, and Dylan were screaming with their hands up something about, "and they stay there! and they stay there!" On this perfect summer night, baseball was a fun past time whether you won or lost, there wasn't tons of tournament teams lurking in some giant complex with crazy obsessed parents around and loss was just a loss that was already forgotten and no one really cared. We'll get serious again in our final tournament.
Game 64 Lake Central Indiana 2 Team Sharp 0
By the time the boys embarked on innings 15-21 of Sunday July 11, 2010 in Orland, the naked eye could see TSU was running on fumes. It would take a massive effort to beat a solid Lake Central team and advance to the finals of the Magic tournament. Tim Schneider took the hill and went four solid innings allowing only one run and scattering five hits. Luke DeBenedetti wrapped up the final two only giving up one. Both pitchers were instructed to walk BIG BOBBY with runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out. Boy did the Lake Central fans and coaching staff not like that strategy by Team Sharp and it probably crossed Coach Tadd off their Christmas card list. All kidding aside, both times almost worked as the next hitter hit sharp ground balls which almost translated into inning ending double plays, but each recorded a force out scoring their lone 2 runs of the game. In this scribe's opinion, Team Sharp held a very good squad from Indiana to two runs for the game, but just were out of gas after leaving the southwest suburbs at 6:30am. Some might say the bats took a little nap this afternoon. This story should be heading for a happy ending, wouldn't you say? Wrong answer. Nick Nemanich singled in the first and big JP (Johnny Parker) walked in the 7th. That was the base runners TSU could muster. The bats were creaking through the zone in desperate need of some WD 40. Only 6 balls reached the outfield in 7 innings. 5 of those were outs. L.C. pitched well and made our hitters look overmatched in the 2-0 final score. It may as well have been 12-0. It was a lopsided two run loss. The Sharpies seemed ready to play but just didn't have it in them. Was it the heat? Blood loss friday night in the mosquito fest? More likely just really good pitching beating good hitting in this particular game. The loss dropped Sharp to 44-20 for the year. TSU makes a quick stop in Lisle for a mid week tilt and heads to the Caliendo Sports Invitational next weekend in Rockford. The drive for 45 continues.
Game 63 Team Sharp 8 Southside Express 6
With a spot in the semifinals of the Orland Magic Tournament on the line, Team Sharp hoped that the fourth time (2009 1-run loss, 2010 opening game 1-run loss and the recent 11-1 pool play loss) would be the charm against the Southside Express. Prior to game time, as they say in the World Series of Poker tournament, Team Sharp decided to "GO ALL IN". Coach Tadd inked a deal with the SSE staff that today would be our I-80 matchup as well money time for this tournament. Today would be a good day to show these guys we are a worthy opponent and we might not have been at our best in the prior games over the last 2 years by showing some nads and refusing to get bullied anymore. Luke DeBenedetti, Alex Tibble, and Nick Nemanich all singled to start the game and load the bases. Dylan Loftis drove in a run with a long ground out to right field and Tibble scored on a wild pitch with two outs to give starter Collin Gibson a 2-0 lead before he emerged from the dugout. Coll sent the Express down in 11 pitches in the bottom half of the first. In the top of the 2nd, Jeremy Nichols singled to start the inning. Vin Purpura and John Parker followed with rbi singles to give Sharp an early 4-0 cushion. Southside countered with a triple and groundout to make it 4-1 TSU after 2 innings. Both teams threw up zeroes in the third. Loftis got it started for the Sharpies in the 4th with a single and stolen base. Gibson and Brad Roberts followed with walks. After a pop out, Matt Callaghan strode out to home plate. The free swinging, year 2010 version of Reds/Yankees great Paul O'Neill decided to load up on the first good fastball he saw. It wasn't a long wait. He vaporized the first pitch way over the right fielder's head for a grand slam home run. It rolled out to a place you wouldn't expect 11 year olds to reach. It was almost comical watching it get chased down and sent back in through three gloves before it arrived back to the pitcher's mound. Cal scored easily and we were feeling good about an 8-1 lead. Of course, the Express didn't cooperate in the bottom of 4. They came out swinging and scored four runs. Two were unearned thanks to a 2 out ground ball that snuck through a pair of unidentified skinny legs. 8-5 Sharp heading to the top of 5. Oh boy, TSU didn't score in the 5th so it was time to try and hang on. The boys from Orland nicked reliever Dylan Loftis for a run to make it 8-6 heading to the sixth. Sharp couldn't muster any offense in the last two innings, but Tim Schneider came in and saved Gibson's win by giving up zilch in the final two frames. Steady Schneids didn't even blink in two full innings. He ended the game by covering first on a ground ball to our first baseman. Sounds easy, but how many times in your life have you seen that play butchered by pros let alone an 11yr old. Tim may end up being the first player/coach in Nequa Valley history with that baseball mind of his - always thinking and we like that! On to the semifinals and game #3 of this fine sunny Sunday afternoon. Load up on oranges and bananas as Lake Central, Indiana will be the opponent. Sharp would attempt to avenge an early season 10-9 extra inning loss at Ho Chunk early in the season.
Game 62 Team Sharp 6 Top Tier 4
In travel baseball tournaments, 10 run rule wins, byes, and favorable seeding are very important to a team's success. I don't care who you are if you have to play more innings, get deeper into your pitching reserve, and have your players out in the July heat longer than the opposition, your squad is at a distinct disadvantage. If TSU would have gone 2-1 in pool play instead of 1-2 their road would have been a bit easier to navigate. Instead, Top Tier from the Northwest suburbs of Chicago would be the first opponent in the knockout round at 8 bells in the AM. Dylan Loftis got the start and pitched well. He struck out five, walked none, and gave up only one run in four innings. He left the game with a 4-1 lead. Alex Tibble came on to pitch the final three frames and had just enough fumes in the tank to hold off the boys from Top Tier 6-4 and make a winner out of Loftis. Top Tier has some very solid hitters and a short 9 man lineup which is always dangerous. Vin Purpura(double, rbi, sb), Collin Gibson (rbi), and Tim Schneider(sb, 2 runs) each had two hits for Sharp. Matt Callaghan stayed hot tripling in a run and scored. Luke DeBenedetti and Brad Roberts each drove in a run. It was Team Sharp's 43rd W of the season and it pushed them into the quarterfinals against old foe Southside Express. It's about time we beat that team.
Notes and Quotes: Top Tier, it seemed, had a pretty good group of hitters. The pitchers did a nice job keeping them off balance and working out of trouble. Loftis was as "sharp" as he's been all season. He kept the ball low and threw strikes. It was a nice of example of just being a little more solid than the opponent on that particular day. Let's keep that going. Kudos to Top Tier's leadoff man. The long haired, free swinging masher walked, singled, doubled, and tripled. He looked like he knew what he was doing every step of the way. The three balls he put in play traveled a combined 326 miles and hour.
Game 61 Southside Express 11 Team Sharp 1
Saturday July 10th was a unique decision day for Team Sharp. Coach Tadd faced the possibility of facing a tough Southside Express team 3 times in 3 days with today's game, a possible quarterfinal or semifinal match up and an I-80 game next Tuesday night. Couple that situation with star pitcher/catcher Alex Tibble having some late season arm tenderness left Coach Tadd wondering what his next step should be in the pitching department. This game was also a first opportunity for redemption for the Sharpies with a chance to avenge losses to the SS Express in Orland in 2009 (last inning) and at Lenz Field in Jacksonville to open this season. Mr. Gibson remembers the Lenz Field opener well. The general admission seat he had behind the right field wall after the first inning left quite an impression. Realizing binoculars from 350 ft away aren't anywhere near as comfortable as the 3rd base coaching box. Much like he expects from his pitchers, it was his day to show he had the stamina to go the distance and not get ejected. When the ump walked up and it wasn't the big jolly farm boy from central Illinois who collected ejections as notches on a big stud's belt. Absent a short tempered umpire from downstate Illinois, i felt good about our chances. Then the game began. Alex Tibble walked and stole second. Tim Schneider walked and Dylan Loftis was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Collin Gibson singled in Tibble to get TSU off to an early 1-0 lead. This is as good as it got for our 11u heroes. Southside slowly and steadily dismantled us while receiving a number of early Christmas gifts on this July day. They knocked out 12 hits (some of the seeing eye variety), benefitted from 5 walks and six errors, and sprinted out to an 11-1 win. It was demoralizing for certain, but you have to give the Express their due. They don't seem really dominating or intimidating, but they are well coached and tough. They resemble the boxer that takes you out with an accumulation of punches instead of one or two big shots. Dylan Loftis reached base three times for Sharp. Nick Nemanich doubled. Collin Gibson drove in the lone run. At 1-2 in pool play, Sharp will not benefit from a bye in the knockout round. Bring on the oranges, gatorades, and cheesy nachos. It may be a long hot day in the big city if the Sharpies can make a run at the Magic Tournament title on Sunday.
Game 60 Team Sharp 13 Oak Lawn Chargers 4
Coming in with an 0-1 record in pool play, Team Sharp found themselves in a must win situation on the second night of the Orland Park Magic tournament. The Oak Lawn Chargers were the oppostion and Coach Tadd sent Collin Gibson to the mound to regain some momentum and hopefully get a W. Gibson pitched around some control issues, tested his dad's patience and went four solid innings giving up only 3 earned runs and striking out 5. The Sharpies again started slowly and were down 2-0 in the 3rd. However, they flicked the proverbial switch and stepped on the gas pedal in the final three innings to blow past Oak Lawn for a 13-4 time limit win. Gibson got the win and Tim Schneider and Jeremy Nichols pitched scoreless frames to close it out. Luke DeBenedetti(2 runs, rbi), Nick Nemanich(4 rbis, 2 runs), and Schneider(2 rbis, run) each had two hits to pace the offense. Vin Purpura reached base three times and drove in a run. Jeremy Nichols doubled in a run. Matt Callaghan reached twice and singled in two runs. I-80 foe, The Southside Express are next for TSU in the final pool play game. They've proven to be a worthy opponent and have beaten us two in a row over the 10u and 11u seasons by one run. A better start to the ballgame will be needed against the boys from Southside to move to 2-1 in pool play. Coach Tadd seemed relaxed with everyone moving on to the sudden death round regardless of record. Lots of pitching left was a phrase uddered by Coach T after the game. Sharp improved to 42-18 with the win.
Game 59 Orland Magic 9 Team Sharp 5
On July 8th, TSU brought their newfound swagger east to Orland Park for the Orland Magic Tournament. TSU lost a couple mid-week development games during the week due weather so with everyone advancing after pool play Coach Tadd made sure a number of guys got work at different positions including on the mound. The upstart host Magic would be opponent #1 for the Sharpies under the lights at 8pm. They had fired their coach a few weeks back and seemed to get on a roll beating some high level teams. Unfortunately, throughout warm ups, two words kept popping into my head --> Mosquito abatement. For the love of all things holy, the mosquitos were horrible. Their attack on Team Sharp flesh was unrelenting, aggressive, and swarming. Moms were shaken and worried about their babies being eaten alive. At one point I actually wimpered, "Mommy make them stop" and my mommy wasn't even there. It was a miserable start to what turned out to be a miserable night. Still hungover from a huge 4th of July weekend effort at Plainfield where Welter's grand slam proved too much, Team Sharp ran short on blood after transfusion bags ran low at the concession stand and TSU dropped a 9-5 decision to the hosts. The good guys didn't scratch a hit until the 4th inning and Orland blew open a 5-3 lead to 9-3 in the top of the 6th. Matt Callaghan had two hits. Luke DeBenedetti doubled in a run. Jeremy Nichols and Nick Nemanich singled in runs. Things might have been worse, but Jeremy Nichols and Tim Schneider threw out three Magic runners stealing at second base. Coach Tadd wasn't happy, but worked on some things for the sake of development and arm preservation. The Oak Lawn Chargers await TSU in game 2 of pool play.
Notes and Quotes: all games in this tourney are 7 innings. tough pitching puzzle to crack. Looking into renting a small plane and hitting the complex crop duster style with about 2000 gallons of deep woods off before tomorrow nights tilt vs. Oak Lawn.
Game 58 Victory Black 10 Team Sharp 6
Flying high after the 10-6 win over Anderson's Illinois Sparks, Team Sharp looked to keep climbing the PIT mountain against Victory Black. This is the team that obliterated TSU in Manhattan only 6 weeks earlier. Good hitters up and down the lineup, good pitchers(lefty and righty), good coaching, and a dominant power hitter who got big early in life are a few of the attributes of this dangerous Victory team. They have taken down some big boys on the national stage in various tournaments. We would have to be ready to go on a hot early July day. The Plainfield Force faced Kutt's Sparks in the other semifinal on the adjacent field. 4 Top-of-the-line Illinois teams all ready take home the prestige of a coveted local title. Collin Gibson got the start on this afternoon. He has seen the best teams and has the control, craftiness, and pitches available to get good hitters out. We were the visitors based on lower seed and went right to work in the batters box. I'm not positive where Victory's starter ranked in their rotation, but i know for sure he wasn't their best. The big lefty was being safely tucked away for the title game. Luke DeBenedetti reached on an error and Alex Tibble singled sharply to start things off. Nick Nemanich was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Tim Schneider ripped a 2 rbi single to make it 2-0 Sharp with runners on first and second and nobody out. Collin Gibson followed with a single to load the bases. Victory's head man could smell that this wasn't the same rag tag outfit that stunk their field up in May. He quickly made the move to their ace, a real quality lefty pitcher named Lowman. In a situation where the balance of the game could have turned very early, he came in and struck out the side to end the top of the first. 2-0 Sharp and it felt like the other team actually had the momentum going to the bottom of the frame. Victory countered with five in the bottom to make it 5-2 heading to the second. Jeremy Nichols reached on an error and advanced to third on two wild pitches to start the second. Brad Roberts drove him in with a sac fly to trim the lead to 5-3. Collin Gibson held the home team to a 0 in the second to help TSU regain the belief that we could stay with these guys. In the top of the third, Tibble and Nemanich singled to start the inning, but were stranded and Team Sharp remained down by two. Gibson continued to stay in the groove in the bottom of three by sending Victory down 1-2-3 on 7 pitches. The boys from Sharp Sports followed suit in the top of 4 by going down in order. Victory nicked Gibson for a run in the bottom of the 4th to make it 6-3. In the top of 5, Sharp made another move. With one out, John Parker and DeBenedetti singled and Tibble followed with a walk to load the bases. The national MVP of 11u(in this summary author's eyes), Nick Nemanich came up and hammered a single to drive in two and make it 6-5 with one away. Two runners were again stranded to end the inning, but TSU was down 6-5 in their last game and came back to win that one. hope was alive. Gibson came out in the bottom of 5 and retired the first two batters and continue to roll. He walked a batter and gave up a bloop single nine feet behind third base and was pulled by Coach Gibson for TSU closer DeBenedetti. Collin righted the ship and pitched well after the first inning against a very potent lineup. After walking the first batter to load the bases still with 2 out, Luke would have to face Nick Welter, Victory's best hitter, who had about 20 home runs already. He blew the first pitch right by Welter for strike one. after a ball to make it 1-1, Luke threw a well placed low strike that Welter went down and drilled for a towering grand slam to make it 10-5. Tip your cap to the young hitter on that one, he crushed a nice pitch. In Gibson's defense, the inning should have ended on a two out blooper behind 3rd, but it wasn't meant to be as Team Sharp found themselves way down heading to their last at bat. Sharp didn't give up the fight and tallied a run on Dylan Loftis' double and Jeremy Nichols rbi single which would have tied the game, on this day it wasn't enough. 10-6 was the final score that ended Sharp's proud run through a tough tournament. On the other side of the bracket, The Force nailed the Sparks 9-3 to surprise everyone, but themselves. Later that afternoon, the Force took down Victory 7-4 for the championship. TSU likely had something to do with Victory's loss. They spent their best pitcher on us and he had no innings left for the finale, but that's no consolation and they still beat us. However, teams at times didn't feel the need to use their ace against us, and at least this time we forced their hand and it probably cost them. it was a sign that we'd progressed. The 11u gang from Team Sharp walked a little taller that day and we had to tip our hats to them.
Game 57 Team Sharp 10 Illinois Sparks - Anderson 6
The last meeting between Team Sharp and Anderson's Sparks was an epic, well-played 1-0 loss for the Sharpies deep in the heart of Oak Forest. It gave our team confidence we could play with the best teams, but we needed to prove we could score some runs in the rematch. A big 0 in the runs column never gets it done. Coming into this PIT quarterfinal matchup, the Sparks had reeled off 18 straight wins and have dropped some beatings on some of the areas best teams. Coach Tadd went with Alex Tibble as his starting pitcher. Tibble has taken down some good opponents in Plainfield tournaments in the past and is usually very consistent around the strike zone. In a bad twist of scheduling, we drew the early tee time, 8 AM. Usually early AM starts are not this team's strong suit. Team Sharp seemed to wake up early as the Sparks ran through a military-esque pre-game warmup battling for playing time that particular day. A frequent Team Sharp visitor stopped by the good guys dugout and offered a unique Slurpee Challenge to this bunch that will probably go down in history as something the boys will always remember.
Team Sharp came out in the visitors half of the first and were quickly retired 1-2-3. Tibble countered in the bottom half and sent the Sparks down in order on three ground ball outs in six pitches. After a single, strikeout, and caught stealing to start off the second inning, TSU put together three straight singles by Dylan Loftis, Matt Callaghan, and Vin Purpura. With two outs, Jeremy Nichols stepped to the plate. On the very first pitch, a fast ball hitter got what he wanted and rocketed it over the Sparks outfield in deep left center for a bases clearing double. 3-0 Sharp and the dugout went wild. It was one of those 30 second snapshots where everyone was into it, on board, and loving it. In a 70 game season with a quality team, sometimes high fives are missed, doubles are meeted with yawns, and thoughts wander outside the baseball field. This clutch two out hit by Nichols early in the game may have given us the confidence and fight to carry us through. It really felt like we were peaking and ready to spring the upset. Anderson's boys came back with two in the bottom of the 2nd to make it a 3-2 Sharp lead. The good guys were held to a goose egg inthe top of the 3rd and the Sparks tied it 3-3 in the bottom of the frame. In the top of the 4th, Dylan Loftis walked with two out to set the stage for another fastball hitter, Matt Callaghan. Cal took the first offering and scorched it over the CF's head to drive in Loftis with a triple. He took home on an E-8 overthrow to make it 5-3. The Sparks answered with one in the bottom of the inning to chop the TSU lead to 5-4. Sharp went down quickly in the top of 5 and the Sparks nicked Tibble for two more in their half of the 5th to take a 6-5 lead. In a game that had the smell of a "just miss" the Sharpies did not give up and kept Coach Tadd adreline pumpin. The final frame would tell the tale. Tibble led off the top of 6 with a walk. Nick Nemanich was drilled by a pitch to put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. Tim Schneider promptly delivered an rbi double to tie the score at 6. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Collin Gibson lined hard into a double play leaving thoughts of what could have been, but still leaving a runner on third with two outs. Loftis drew a clutch walk and stole second to again set the stage for the rising 11u star Matt Callaghan. Cal again came through and lasered a single that plated two and gave Sharp an 8-6 lead. Vin Purpura was hit by a pitch and Jeremy Nichols drew a walk to load the bases. Brad Roberts stepped to the plate and ripped a 2-1 offering from the Sparks' new pitcher for a 2 rbi single to make it 10-6. What a rally against quality opposition and a top 11u Closer throwing some heat. Tibble took the ball in the sixth to try and get the complete game win with great offensive support from his teammates. Alex would face the 3-4-5 hitters. He got the 3 hitter to ground out to short for out #1. The four hitter was 2 for 2 already on the day and blasted a rope to deep right field and Matt Callaghan made a backing, twisting, leaping catch for out #2. Matt helped his tiring pitcher greatly on that play. If he misses, that one is a home run. It was crushed. In a fitting ending to the game, Tibble got the 5 hitter to pop up to the mound. He looked up squinting, waved his arms to signal he had it, and squeezed it with two hands to set off the celebration. We realized it was only a quarterfinal win, but it felt special. We went toe to toe with a one of the Top 5-6 teams in the state and came out on top. That game may have changed the way people look at our team and definitely changed the way we viewed ourselves. Victory Black awaits in the semifinals.
Tibble got the job done with 71 pitches. He walked one and struck out one while pitching to contact and letting some stellar Team Sharp D do the talking. He scattered ten hits and made some big pitches to get out of jams. 11 outs were on ground balls. Callaghan led the offense by going 3 for 3 with a triple, 3 runs, and 3 rbis. Jeremy Nichols(double, 3 rbis) and Tim Schneider(double, rbi, run) had two hits each. Dylan Loftis reached base 3 times and scored three runs. Brad Roberts drove in two. Vin Purpura reached twice and scored both times.
In other quarterfinal action, Kutt's Sparks rolled over the troubled D-Kings 14-1, Victory Black hammered a very good Lake Central, IN team 14-4, and the Plainfield Force upended potentially the State's best team Wasco 11-4. Victory Black vs. Team Sharp in one semi and Force vs. Kutt Sparks on the other. All of the sudden, the odds on TSU don't seem as long. And for those of you betting folks that lost thousands in the stock market crash and bet against Team Sharp on this particular day, you NEVER bet against the Sharpies. As in the stocks and mutual fund business "past performance isn't always indicative of future results".
Game 56 Team Sharp 9 Tinley Park Bobcats 2
With their backs to the wall facing a must win, the boys from Team Sharp took on the Tinley Bobcats on July 4th at Renwick Park in the final pool play game in the PIT. With a win, the Sharpies would be sure to reach quarterfinal play and put their hats in the ring against a rugged collection of talent in one of the top tournaments of the 2010 11u season. Tim Schneider went to the hill and did his best to put down the Bobcats' bats and allow his teammates to relax and do their jobs on offense. He, as usual, came out and did the job. He went five innnings, allowed a meager 2 runs, and struck out 4. It was a clutch performance since the TSU offense didn't break open a 2-2 tie until the top of the 6th. The boys opened it up for seven runs and seven hits to make it a 9-2 game. Nick Nemanich came in and pitched the final frame with zero drama. Four pitches, three outs, nighty night. The win earned Sharp the right to face Angel's Illinois Sparks. We received the 7 seed and The Sparks(winners of 18 straight games) got the 2 seed. Luke DeBenedetti(triple, walk, 2 runs), Nemanich(double, walk, rbi), Matt Callaghan, and Jeremy Nichols(double, 2 runs, 2 rbis) all had two hits to lead the offense. Schneider doubled in a run. Alex Tibble and John Parker each had an rbi for the winners. It marked the 40th win in Team Sharp's sophomore campaign. "The drive for 45" as joked about in the batting cages in January suddenly seemed less like a goal and more like something we could accomplish before the season ends. First things first and on to an early morning tilt with a bad bunch of boys from the near southwest burbs.
Notes and Quotes: Seeding fell as follows:
#1 Kutt Sparks vs. #8 Plfd D-kings
#2 Anderson Sparks vs #7 Team Sharp University
#3 Victory Black vs. Lake Central(IN)
#4 Wasco vs. #5 Plfd Force
Holy Cow. Ship in any team in the Midwest and they would have a tough time running that gauntlet. I'll bet those 8 teams have 25 1st place finishes between them already this season. I think i saw Jon Miller and Joe Morgan at Nabby's comparing notes and getting ready to broadcast the finale. Kudos to Shawn Garrity for convincing these teams to all participate in the same tournament. I called MGM Grand. they have the odds to win set as follows. Kutt 5-2, Anderson 3-1, Victory Black 3-1, Wasco 7-2, D-Kings 7-1, Force 8-1, Lake Central 10-1, and last but not least TSU at 15-1. I bickered about the last number, but the handicapper noted our 1-8 record against the field this summer and i thanked him for not putting us at 30-1. As always these numbers are for amusement only. As in the stocks and mutual fund business "past performance is not indicative of future results".
Game 55 Wasco - Ridgeway 10 Team Sharp 0
On a blazing hot July 3rd Saturday, Team Sharp had their sights set on mighty Wasco in game 3 of pool play in the PIT. Team Sharp had heard all the rumors of their offensive power, but were confident today might be there day. It was our Ottawa St. diamond debut. This is a cozy locale in downtown Plainfield that features a neighboring pool and a fishing pond across the street. There's pretty birds, the sun always shines, and the people always smile and say hello. Okay i can't put this off any longer. We were snatched up by the collars and dragged behind the woodshed by the boys from Wasco. TSU was waxed 10-0 in 4 innings and e-mailed the slaughter rule inventor a thank you note afterwards. Luke DeBenedetti and Dylan Loftis mustered the only hits for the offense. Collin Gibson was the brave starter for Sharp. In all honesty, he pitched well against a very good group of hitters. He took one for the team and earned a measure of respect from at least one 11u blogger. Nick Nemanich pitched a scoreless relief inning. Catcher Alex Tibble threw out two runners at second and narrowly missed two more. Aaany-whooo, let's keep this essay at 200 words or less and hope for a better showing the rest of the tournament. At 1-2 in pool play, Sunday's game vs. the Tinley Park Bobcats is a must win. If we can get to Monday, it's a clean slate and who knows. The loss dropped our season tally to 39-16.
Game 54 Illinois Sparks - Kutt 7 Team Sharp 2
In game 2 of the prestigious PIT, TSU would give their all and try not to be swept in game three of the 2010 series with Coach Kutt's Illinois Sparks from Orland. Dylan Loftis was set to the task and took the ball ready and willing. The Sparks struck first in the top of the first with a run to make it 1-0. Team Sharp answered with one of their own when Luke DeBenedetti walked, stole second, and scored on an RBI single by Nick Nemanich. The Sparks scored single runs in the 2nd and 4th to make it 3-1. It stayed that way until the 5th when Sharp tried to mount a rally. After one out, consecutive singles by Brad Roberts, Vin Purpura, and Matt Callaghan loaded the bases. Unfortunately, they were stranded on a strikeout and flyout and the Sharpies were still down two. In the top of six, with the help of three walks and an error, the Sparks broke it open and took a 7-1 lead. In their last at bat, Team Sharp scored one more run on a Nemanich walk, Tim Schneider double, and Collin Gibson's RBI single. This would be it and the final score was 7-2. Dylan Loftis was crafty and got out of some tough spots, but was ultimately done in by 8 walks and a high pitch count. Schneider had two hits including the 6th inning double. Nemanich and Gibson drove in runs. This dropped our record to 1-1 in pool play and things would not get easier against Wasco on Saturday July 3rd. They are a feared team with very good hitters and players representing a large area of the northwest suburbs. It was kind of painful seeing the Sparks get by us all three times this year. Especially considering they never felt the need to pitch their ace pitcher against us. We played three decent games against one of the better outfits in our home state and came up a smidge short. To earn the respect of the big boys, eventually you have to beat them. Close only counts in a few different things-i just can't remember which ones. The next few games are key in the quest to make the final 8 on Monday July 5th.
Game 53 Team Sharp 11 Lockport Cobras 5
Remember old "Squints" from Sandlot. Team Sharp was a bit like him about to jump into the deep end of the neighborhood pool as they headed into the PIT on Fourth of July weekend. This tournament was loaded and there were numerous sharks swimming around in there. Both Sparks teams, Plfd Force and Dkings, Wasco, and Victory Black were a who's who of excellent 11u teams in the midwest all moshed together in a loaded field. The winner of this one would earn it. TSU's first matchup was on Thursday, July 1st against our old foes from Lockport, the Cobras. They are a lot like us. No one is going to look twice at us in warm ups. Unless they happen to walk near ours and get smoked by an errant throw. Neither team will intimidate you before the game, but either of us can play good baseball and wear you down during the game. This game was of real importance to us because our four pool games were against the Cobras, Kutt's Sparks, Ridgway's Wasco, and the Tinley Bobcats. Top eight teams overall get seeded after pool play. We needed to for sure win the Lockport and Tinley games and hope for the split in Wasco and Sparks tilts. Alex Tibble got the nod on the mound from coach Tadd. Tibble is normally dependable and doesn't hurt himself with walks. The school of "effective wildness" with special guest speaker Randy Johnson doesn't commence until 12u starts. At times Tibble's control is too good and teams get real comfy in the batter's box against him. Today wasn't one of those days. He sailed through four innings striking out five and allowing only two hits and one run on a meager 50 pitches. The offense marked in every inning to methodically hammer out an 11-5 win. At the plate, Tibble had three singles, walked, drove in two, scored three, and stole three. Collin Gibson(2 RBI), Dylan Loftis(2 RBI), and Nick Nemanich(RBI, 2 runs) each had two hits. Luke DeBenedetti doubled, walked twice, and scored two runs. Tim Schneider singled, walked twice, and drove in a run with a sac fly. Team Sharp's defense picked a runner off second, threw a runner out at second trying to steal, and turned a double play up the middle on a line drive to shortstop. Three plays involving a runner at second base that we turned in our favor. Little things add up in this game. It was a good win and we turned our focus toward Kutt's Sparks Friday July 2nd at 4pm. We hope the third time will be the charm after dropping 6-4 and 13-10 decisions earlier in the season.
"PLAAAY BAAAAL! Hurry up, batter. This better be a short game, I gotta get home for lunch." -Hamilton Porter, The Sandlot
Game 52 Team Sharp 12 Troy Titans 6
June 30, 2010 was another game day for the Sharpies. They made trip #2 on the season to take on the Troy Titans just off I-80 in Shorewood. The Titans are a program on the rise and they boast some of the better looking diamonds in the area. It was an 8:15pm start and that always bodes well for our crew. Half of our team is nocturnal and early starts are no friend of ours. Very business-like we took advantage on this night and scored 4 in the first, two in the 2nd, and three in the 3rd to jump out to a commanding 9-2 lead after 3. TSU tacked on 3 more in the 5th and coasted to a 12-6 win on a beautiful, still night. Luke DeBenedetti picked up the win as the starter. He was helped by relievers Jeremy Nichols, Nick Nemanich, Matt Callaghan, and Brad Roberts. Dylan Loftis was on fire with three hits including a double, three rbis, and 3 steals. Tim Schneider(walk, double, 3 runs), Vin Purpura(rbi, run), and Brad Roberts(rbi, run) had two hits each. Alex Tibble walked twice, was plunked, stole two bases, and drove in a run. Matt Callaghan doubled. John Parker singled and walked. Collin Gibson, DeBenedetti, and Nichols drove in a run each. It was a steady attack from Sharp pretty much from inning to inning. Tibble laid down the defensive tone early by throwing out back to back runners at second base in the second inning. His release from behind the plate was even quicker than usual and the runners were out by plenty. It was a solid performance against a team we had beaten twice earlier in the year. This was a game where a letdown could have occured being that it was just days before the PIT. No letdown and it turned out to be a nice tune up for some vicious competition in what could be our toughest tournament of the season.
Next up: Lockport Cobras, Illinois Sparks(Kutt), Wasco, and Tinley Park Bobcats in pool play of Plainfield Invitational Tournament July 1-5th.
Game 51 Team Sharp 16 Batavia Bandits 3
On Sunday June 27th, Team Sharp arrived at the park for the Golden Dome quarterfinals and found out that they did indeed get the top seed based on pool play performance. A 3-0 record and outscoring the opponents 28-2 earned the Sharpies the right to take on the 8th seeded Batavia Bandits. This QF matchup was nearly a technical fall(for you wrestlers out there) as TSU kept things hot in Indiana and took only three at bats to stomp out a 16-3 win. Dylan Loftis and Luke DeBenedetti pitched 2 innings each to combine on the win. They allowed a total of 5 hits in 4 innings and struck out 4. The offense scored three in the 1st, ten in the second, and three in the 3rd. Nick Nemanich continued his 2010 scorched Earth campaign by going 3 for 3 with a triple, 3 rbis, and 3 runs scored. Alex Tibble(rbi, 2 runs), Collin Gibson(2 rbis, 2 runs), and Dylan Loftis(rbi, run) all had two hits. DeBenedetti reached base three times, drove in 2, stole 2, and scored 2. John Parker doubled in three runs. Vin Purpura singled, walked, and drove in two runs. Jeremy Nichols singled, walked, drove in a run and scored twice. Brad Roberts doubled and Tim Schneider knocked in a run. Every player from Team Sharp had at least one hit. It was a balanced and lethal attack. It also continued our South Bend trend of getting games over quickly and saving pitching innings for later on in the tournament. We wrapped up this one and began the process of hanging around and rifling down some nachos with extra cheese to fuel up for the semifinals. The boys were showing off their ample social skills, rapping with the siblings, and getting mentally prepared for our semifinal opponent, Wheatland Gold. As it neared gametime, the fancy phone crowd was getting word of a big storm rumbling eastbound on the turnpike and it wasn't paying tolls. We luckily made the last minute decision to clear the dugouts and get everyone in the cars just in case it got rough out there. Just about the time everyone was tucked in the wagons in the nearby parking lot, the heavens broke loose. It probably rained 2 inches in a half hour. It made Jacksonville's Hurricane Wammo from earlier in the season look like a light shower by comparison. Word came down from the powers that be-this one was over. All Sunday games were cancelled and top seeded Team Sharp was declared the champs. With Wheatland Gold, West Michigan Elite, and the Schererville Schock remaining, it would have been a tough road to hoe on the field. I believe, however that this would have been our tournament to win even if Mother Nature hadn't intervened. We were on a roll and earned the title by hammering out four wins by a combined 44-5. Send us the hardware, Gameday USA. We'll see you at the next one. The win pushed our season record to 37-14.
Notes and Quotes: Lou Holtz was originally lined up to give TSU a motivational speech before Sunday's games, but he bailed on us at the last second. As a plan B, we hung up "Play like a champion today" placards over the milk machine at the hotel's continental breakfast. Each player knuckled up on it as they passed through. Next up: Mid-week tune up with the Troy Titans and eventually the top Tournament of the season at the Plainfield Invitational Tournament. The Sharpies better be up to the task for the Tier 1 talent lurking out at the Renwick and Ottawa St. Fields.
Game 50 Team Sharp 5 Mokena Blaze 1
After getting off to a smoking 2-0 start in South Bend, Team Sharp tried to wrap up a 3-0 pool play run against the Mokena Blaze. Mokena is a local team who also plays in a lower division of the I-80 league. They seemed excited by the challenge to step up in class and take they shot at an I80 upper division titan they had never played before. Tim Schneider earned the start and didn't disappoint. He went the distance as the Blaze wouldn't allow TSU to run away with it. The game was 2-1 Sharp going into the top of 6 when the good guys added three to make it 5-1. Schneids held tight in the bottom of the inning and put the finshing touched on a hard fought 5-1 win. Tim gave up only one run on four hits throwing an economical 61 pitches. Coach Tadd loves his efficiency and ability to beat up the strike zone with 3 pitches and pitch to contact. Alex Tibble(rbi, run) and Jeremy Nichols(sb, run) each had two hits for the winners. Dylan Loftis had three clutch rbis. Luke DeBenedetti continued to produce at the top. He singled, walked, and scored 2 runs. He pushed his on base percentage on the season to around .525. Hats off to the Blaze who were well coached, solid top to bottom, played good defense, and pitched well at least on this day. If not for a monster effort from our starter, this game could have gone the other way. Thanks to the mid day wrap up on Saturday, Team Sharp had the rest of the day to watch the World Cup, sit poolside, tool around Notre Dame's campus, or just enjoy some beverages and wreak some havoc at the hotel. Elevator tag seems to be a Team Sharp favorite on the road with this bunch. Won't be long and the element of girls will enter the picture and we will be wishing they were running around enjoying elevator tag. The rest of the tournament would play out and we would have to wait to see where we would be seeded. The top seed was likely after scoring 28 and giving up only 3. The Schererville Schock and West Michigan Elite were tearing it up in their pool play games as well. Those returning to Team Sharp this year are aware of the legendary showdowns with Michigan Elite last year in Battle Creek where Team Sharp posted their only shutout in their 4 year history. Coach Tadd wanted to play them again and we are here ready for that showdown on Sunday. We would have to wait until first thing Sunday to find out where we landed. Hopefully more good play to come.
Notes and Quotes: We've visited this topic before, but one can't say enough about the work new Sharp team member Tim Schneider has done this year. Wherever he is inserted on defense, you can be sure his best effort will follow. Not many mental lapses from this rangy, soft spoken gent. Best free agent pick up in the I-80 this year. Coach Tadd may get GM of the year based on this one recruit.
Game 49 Team Sharp 12 HRS Express - Ohio 0
In the everlasting quest to get a leg up on the other team, TSU management looked high and low for some internet info on Golden Dome game 2 opponent HRS Express Gold from Ohio. NADA! No soup for you. It was like a blind date going into this contest. We slicked back our hair, took in a spritz of Binaca, and dabbed on some Old Spice to put our best face forward for the boys from Ohio. We pushed Collin away from our dugout toward the pichers mound to face the mysterious opponent. He came out firing and held the Express to 2 hits and no runs in three innings to set the tone. The offense wasn't leaning against the wall, either. They jumped out there and danced to the tune of 12 runs on 11 hits. Luke DeBenedetti pitched the final inning to cap off a tidy 12-0 four inning win. Nick Nemanich made an impression by going 3 for 3 with 2 doubles and 5 rbis. Gibson(rbi, sb, run) and John Parker(2 sb, rbi) were suave and belted two hits each. DeBenedetti moved fast by singling, walking twice, stealing two bases, and scoring 3 runs from the leadoff position. Tim Schneider got past 1st base by doubling in two runs. Turned out to be a happy and successful get together. With a 2-0 record in pool play with a combined 23-2 score, things were looking good for the Sharpies going into the final pool game against the Mokena Blaze.
Notes and Quotes:I believe beacause of our tough scheduling, sometimes teams that really aren't too bad look very weak because of our frame of reference from back home. I guess in that regard we can thank the Sparks-Sportsworx-Diamondkings of the world for making us better. The I-80 is a very tough league (arguably the best) and prepares us well for weekend jaunts out of town. More than a few whispers came from the Ohio crowd about us being one of the best teams they've seen this year. Pat yourselves on the back, Team Sharp, we fooled them again. Kidding, guys. We represented ourselves well and acted like we'd been there before.
Next Up: Mokena Blaze to end pool play, quarterfinal play
Game 48 Team Sharp 11 Avon Township 1
On Friday June 25, 2010, the Team Sharp midwest tour took us to South Bend, Indiana for the Golden Dome Classic. Carrying a 33-14 record, the boys from TSU were ready to do battle with some teams we were unfamiliar with and hopefully score a first place finish that has been dodging us. The Avon Township Doubleheaders were the first opponent. They hailed from Round Lake Beach, Illinois and this was our first chance to meet them between the lines. Alex Tibble used a glacier worth of Pride Ice to get himself back in order from the Sparks game and was named the game one starter in South Bend. He dominated from the start and got himself back on track with a four inning one hitter. He struck out three and walked one and only threw 41 pitches. The offense showed no ill effects from the two hour ride east and hammered out 11 runs to earn an abbreviated 11-1 win. Nick Nemanich(3 rbis), Luke DeBenedetti(2 rbis, 2 steals), Collin Gibson(2 rbis, 3 steals), and Tim Schneider(rbi, 2 runs) all had two hits. Vin Purpura had a double and two rbis. Tibble reached twice and scored two runs. From the get go, it appeared TSU would hold the upper hand and the boys didn't disappoint. They did what they had to do and headed to Saturday's action 1-0. The top eight teams would be seeded into quarterfinal play after three pool games. Good showing in game one.
Notes and Quotes: Once again, the almighty internet proved to be a helpful tool in checking on some of the opposition we had never heard of before. Come to think of it, I guess this website of ours doesn't hide much either. We will not give up our signs on this site. Everything else is open season and our future opponents can enjoy. Special shout out to Culvers who had the good sense to insert themselves into the concession stand at the complex. Nice touch. Ice cream is good.
Next up: HRS Express Gold(Ohio) and Mokena Blaze to wrap up pool play.
Game 47 Illinois Sparks - Kutt 13 Team Sharp 10
Monday June 21st, 2010 was not a good day for Team Sharp. Already faced with a tough assignment in the Illinois Sparks (Kutt), the coaching staff went ahead and made things more complicated(albeit not purposely). At about 30 minutes before game time, Coach Tadd was stuck somewhere in the clutches of the Hillside Strangler, Coach Darin was lost on the highway, and Coach Ron was across the street from the wrong McDonalds compound. Painful. When reading the rest of this summary-remember that the kids were at a disadvantage on this evening right from the get go. Sorry guys. After Sharp tallied no runs in the top of the first, Alex Tibble took the mound. The Sparks got busy and had three home runs among four hits to make it 3-0. The field was a launching pad with the fence being 200 feet in all directions. No power alleys here. No excuses for Alex, though, the pitches that were hit were left up in the strike zone and to their credit, the Sparks didn't miss them. Alex didn't appreciate the humor in his dad's "Saving pitches!" comment. On to the top of the second. After a pre AB discussion with Coach Ron about laying down a bunt if the 3rd baseman was playing even, Dylan Loftis nailed a 1-1 offering over the left centerfield fence to make it 3-1. I think I heard Dylan say,"Bunt that" on the way by as he high fived me and headed toward home. J/K. In the bottom of the second, Tibble found a rhythm and held the Sparks scoreless. In the top of the third, TSU started to get loose. Matt Callaghan singled and stole second and John Parker drove him in with a single to make it 3-2. Luke DeBenedetti reached on an error and Alex Tibble walked to load the bases. Now batting, #14, Nick Nemanich. This field was better suited for Nate's team and Nick showed the folks in attendance his power. On a 1-0 pitch, he hit a rocket over the left field fence for a grand slam. After the rough start, it was 6-3 Sharp just like that. In the bottom of the 3rd, the Sparks punched right back. After an error on a weakly hit flare toward right to start the inning, the Sparks rallied for seven runs including a three run home run to make it 10-6. The fun of Nick's GS and the three run lead didn't last long. After going down quickly in the top of the 4th, Sharp had to hold the Sparks close to have a chance going forward. Reliever Collin Gibson came in and held them to one run in the 4th for an 11-6 score. John Parker started the top of 5 with a double. After the first out, Alex Tibble reached on a catcher interference. The Sparks smartly pitched around Nemanich for a walk to load the bases. They obviously have yet to see youtube videos of Timmy Schneids taking BP. He's a card carrying member of the Midwest Mashers Union. On the first pitch, #32 went deep to left for Sharp's second Granny of the game. Mayhem ensued and Tim took a beating at the dugout entrance. 11-10 with two at bats left. Both teams' bats fell silent until the bottom of the 6th where the Sparks benefitted from four walks and one hit and added two insurance runs to make it 13-10. This proved to be the back breaker as TSU didn't put anything together in the 7th and dropped a 13-10 decision. Nemanich went 2 for 2 with a walk and a Grand Slam. Schneider was 2 for 3 with a Grand Slam. Dylan Loftis had two hits including his home run. John Parker added two hits with a double, 2 runs, and an rbi. Collin Gibson held the Sparks to 2 runs in innings 3-5 to keep things interesting. This was another example of how close we are getting to playing even up with the big boys. With all that was wrong with this night, the kids gutted out a nice comeback against a very good bunch of players. Hopefully our guys will remember this and feel more confident in upcoming big games.
Next Up: Golden Dome Tournament in South Bend, Indiana
Game 46 Team Sharp 8 Frankfort Force 4
On Saturday June 19th, Team Sharp took their sagging 1-5 I-80 record to Frankfort where they hoped to get a win and avenge a 15-0 beating the Force gave them in the 2009 season at the end of a weird day where Team Sharp played a few games in the morning in a tournament, went to the movies and then showed up at 8pm in Frankfort for their worst beating in their 4 year existence. In the top of the first, Frankfort struck first with three runs which made it look like a long day for the good guys. A fisted two run single dropped just over VP's head before and E6 plated a 3rd run in the inning. The good thing was those were the only gifts Team Sharp would hand out on this beautiful sunny day. Team Sharp quickly answered with two of their own on a walk by Alex Tibble, a double by Nick Nemanich, and a two run single by Tim Schneider in the bottom of the first. Starter Dylan Loftis settled in and held the Force to no runs in the 2nd and 3rd. In the bottom of 3, a single by Matt Callaghan and walks by Luke DeBenedetti and John Parker gave TSU the bases loaded with no one out. Alex Tibble hit a line shot that almost knocked the second baseman down. Unfortunately, he didn't fall and managed to turn a 4-3 double play. With runners left on second and third and two gone, Nick Nemanich stepped up in another big spot. As per usual, he came through with a 2 run single to make the score 4-3 Sharp. It stayed that way until the bottom of the 5th. A single by Matt Callaghan and walk by John Parker had runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs for Tibble. This time, he hit it hard where they weren't for a 2 run double to make it 6-3. Nick Nemanich walked and Tim Schneider came through with a two out rbi single to knock in Tibble and make it 7-3. Dylan Loftis scored another run for Sharp in the bottom of the sixth on a double steal. Frankfort plated a run in the top of 7 to make the final score 8-4. Our I-80 Premier membership was saved for at least another week. The win moved our record to 33-13 and 2-5 in always rugged conference play. Dylan Loftis picked up the win. Tim Schneider allowed one hit in three innings of relief to hold the lead. Both pitchers worked Collin Gibson over at second base where he made a wide array of plays with the barehand and ranging far to the left and up the middle to make nice plays. Nice job pitchers for keep guys off balance!!! Schneider, Callaghan, and Nick Nemanich had two hits each.
Next Up: Illinois Sparks - Kutt and the Golden Dome Tournament at South Bend.
Game 45 Team Sharp 20 Romeoville Rattlers 4
Recently, much to the frustration of travel baseball fans across the area, the skies have opened up with rain. This post Milwaukee predicament didn't allow us another game until our date with the Romeoville Rattlers on Thursday June 17th. With all arms fresh and everyone chock full of X-box live and new rap tunes, the Sharpies went back to work. The resident book keeper/author of TSU internet blogs was a smidge late for this outing. Missed the first half inning where his son Alex almost smoked a home run down the right field line. Turned out to be a double that started a three run inning. I hope this doesn't lead to a "Dad, you never cared!" moment when he's 17. Nick Nemanich's single and Tim Schneider and Collin Gibson reaching on errors made the inning possible. Alex Tibble held Romeoville to three runs in four innnings and left the game with a slim 4-3 lead. In the top of the fifth, things started to swing TSU's way. Matt Callaghan singled and stole second. John Parker had a base hit to left and was thrown out at second. Luke DeBenedetti singled home Callaghan and was promptly picked off at first. Tibble singled and stole second. Nick Nemanich knocked him in with a single but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double. For those of you at home keeping track, that's 5 for 5 on the inning with three baserunners thrown out. We're lucky Steinbrenner doesn't own this outfit. Collin Gibson came in and held the Rattlers scoreless in the 5th and Sharp came back to bat. Schneider and Gibson doubled back to back to score a run. Brad Roberts and Jeremy Nichols singled back to back to make it 9-3. Gibson forced a 1-2-3 inning on Romeoville in their half of the sixth and Sharp exploded in the top of the seventh. 11 runs and 7 hits later, the score was 20-3. Romeoville tallied one in the bottom of 7 to make it a 20-4 final. The Rattlers were a better team than the score would indicate-they committed 6 errors and walked six. In the 5-6-7 innings, Team Sharp went an amazing 17 for 25 and scored 16 runs. It could have been more impressive, but I'm no push over scorekeeper. The TSU stats are legit and remember an "error is an error" - this is 11U high caliber baseball". That is a nice run of offense by a team that hasn't played in 8 days. Tibble got the win striking out four and walking one. At the plate, he went 3 for 4 including a double, 3 runs, and an rbi. Nick Nemanich also had 3 hits, a walk, 2 runs, and 2 rbis. Luke DeBenedetti(double, 2 rbis), Tim Schneider(2B, BB, 2 rbis, 3 runs), Collin Gibson(2B, BB, 2 runs, rbi), Matt Callaghan(2 runs, rbi), and John Parker(2 rbis) each had two hits for the winners, who are now 32-13 on the year. Brad Roberts and Jeremy Nichols had 2 rbis. Vin Purpura and Dylan Loftis reached base twice.
Notes and Quotes: Team Sharp pitchers picked off two runners and nearly a third. Jeremy Nichols also showed some nice mechanics and a strong arm to throw out a runner trying to steal by 23 ft.
Next Up: Frankfort, Illinois Sparks, Golden Dome Tournament.
Game 44 Practice Game vs. Plainfield Force (Helfaer Field in Milwaukee)
Team Sharp 6 Team Force 4 (7 inns)
Team Sharp 6 Team Force 6 (extra hitters in 8th)
On Wednesday June 9th, Team Sharp loaded up the wagons and headed North for their annual friendly trip to Helfair Field at Miller Park in Milwaukee. The opponent this year would be a new one as the DiamondKings are now replaced by a familiar foe the Plainfield Force. Considered one of our rivals, and year after year one of the most classiest and most solid travel teams around. This is a great group of coaches and parents who wanted this game to be fun and a great experience vs. winning and losing. Both teams would be winners after this event and long gone are the memories of the Force parents not being happy with Coach Tadd's meetings up the 3rd base line when a certain Former Force pitcher was trying to get in a rhythm. This game, to me, is one of the coolest trips we make every year. Helfair Field is a 2 million dollar field for kids. It is manicured by the people who tend to a major league field and looks on par with just about any minor league field you would see. Starting lineups announced, a Shawn Garrity reference was made, national anthem played, music between innings, battters names announced every inning, concesssions(at big league prices), a gentlemen's agreement to not steal 3rd and a real dugout are some of the perks the players enjoy on this trip. Not to mention the mammoth Miller Park beyond the right field fence. "I didn't know men could build such things" always comes to mind when i look at the Brewers home field during the anthem. That quote was a Gladiator reference for those who missed it. In the back of our minds also was the possibility of our beloved Hawks pouring a thunderstorm on their fifty year Stanley Cup drought later that night in Philly. It was a truly spectacular day for baseball. Air was clean, sun was bright, and the sky was that beautiful color blue that big city haze usually doesn't allow. The pitching duties by both teams would be split amongst the boys-one inning a piece. Luke DeBenedetti started the visiting TSU off with a base hit and stolen base. Two outs later, Tim Schneider made his Wisconsin debut with a clutch rbi double in the gap. Schneider took his turn hurling in the bottom of the inning and held the Force scoreless for a 1-0 lead. After we went down 1-2-3 in the 2nd, the Force got a leadoff double that scored on two ground outs to make it 1-1. The Force held us down again in the top of 3 and came back to score in their half with two doubles to make it 2-1. Nick Nemanich started the top of 4 with a single, SB, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Timmy Schneids got him home with an rbi groundout to make it 2-2. Collin Gibson came on in the bottom of the fourth to hold the Force scoreless to keep it tied at two. In the top of the fifth, Vin Purpura led the inning off with a walk and steal. Luke DeBenedetti drove him in with an rbi single. He stole second and Alex Tibble walked. After a groundout to second advanced the runners, Tim Schneider hit a roller to second that was kicked away for an error and two runs scored to make it 5-2 Sharp. DeBenedetti came on to face the Force in the bottom of five and gave up a ringing double to start the inning. He promptly hung the leg and whirled to second base and picked off the runner for out #1. The next hitter smashed one back up the box and Lukey made a spectacular play and threw him out at first for out #2. After a single, he struck out the last batter to retire the side. This was a key inning where more things could have happened for the Force, but good defense served us well. In the top of 6, Collin came up and roped a lead off double. He scored a few pitches later on consecutive wild pitches to make it 6-2 Sharp. The always dangerous Force answered with one of their own on a triple and single in the bottom of the frame to make it 6-3. Sharp couldn't muster any insurance runs in the 7th and Plainfield would face Dylan Loftis in the bottom with the game on the line. After a single-walk-single to start the inning that made it 6-4, Team Sharp was on its heels and hanging on tight. Loftis responded with a strikeout, flyout to left, and strikeout to end the game 6-4. Because the game was so well played, there was 7 minutes of extra time (only 12:23) and 3 hitters each were agreed to be sent out to the plate for the eighth. Vin Purpura, Johnny Parks, and Brad Roberts were able to sharpen their mound skills in the extra frame making sure Coach Tadd got all 10 kids on the hill. Plainfield notched a few runs in their half for a 6-6 final which Coach Tadd couldn't have orchestrated any better. Everyone left happy and moved on to the business of watching the Cubs erode even further from relevance in spite of their 145 million dollar payroll. That comment was typed by a Cubs fan. Collin Gibson got the win in this one and Dylan Loftis got the save. Luke DeBenedetti made Milwaukee his by going 3 for 3 with a walk, rbi, 2 runs, and four steals. And don't forget about his pitching/defense in the pivotal 5th frame. Gibson had two hits including a double, SB, and run scored. Tim Schneider doubled in a run and Nick Nemanich had an rbi. Dylan Loftis reached base twice. The win pushes our record to 31-13 for the year.
Notes and Quotes: Please keep in mind TSU pitched all 10 guys and the Force didn't use their top guys at all meaning a real showdown will be sometime in the future. Special thanks go out to the Cubs outfielders for providing Team Sharp with about a bag full of baseballs they shagged during BP. The Sharpies laid down a heckle that even the stoic Kosuke Fukodome couldn't resist. They begged and begged until the Cubbies finally broke and threw about twelve balls our way over the course of about 45 minutes. Very cool. At one point, Alex yelled, "You're my favorite player" to one of the Cubs unknowns. He looked back with a half smile and said, "No I'm not." At least that fella knew his place on the food chain and that he was being conned by a 12 year old. The Hawks winning the Cup as we were trying to exit Miller Park was a once in a lifetime experience. We watched on a monitor near a beer/burger stand as Kane snuck his goal in from an impossible angle. The Sharpies moshed with a bunch of drunk twenty somethings and sang that goofy song from the beer commercial. Good times. Lesson learned: Please never let a player dive into a pool that is 3ft deep. Remind anyone that will listen to not dive into unknown pools. We dodged a bullet.
Next up: Romeoville Rattlers, Frankfort Force, Illinois Sparks.
Game 43 Barlett Silver Hawks 7 Team Sharp 5 (Championship game)
Ever hear of the phrase, "like kissing your sister"? It's an oldy moldy phrase used to describe a bittersweet event in your life. More bitter, i'd say. No offense to the lovely Team Sharp sisters Toni, Taylor, Tori, Taia, Amanda, Amanda, Bella, Kara, Natalie, and Lauren. I'm sure your brothers appreciate your smooches. New mandate to you all-if your bros even get near you for a hug-shoo them away. At least until baseball season is over. Taking second is like kissing your sister and we are getting way too used to it. We need to break these boys of bad habits. Okay, i guess by now readers of this summer rambling can see where this is going. Yes, we fell to the less than overwhelming Bartlett Silverhawks in the final of the Schaumburg Flyers Showdown 7-5. We earned a nice 2nd place trophy, but are we really interested in displaying 2nd place trophies down at Sharp Sports on Earl Road in Shorewood? The next 2nd place finish swallow, all Team Sharp sisters line up in back of the opponents' hand shake line and backhand your brothers on the way by. This may have a Pavlovian effect on them. If you got that reference, raise your hand. Lukey would need to run and hide if we put this rule into place. He has three sisters and they do like 200 push ups before eating their Wheaties in the morning. Anyhow, in a nutshell, we kind of gave the game away. The Silverhawks scratched out six hits, but were the beneficiaries of five walks, a HBP, an error and a horrible drop third strike call that the Silverhawk runner punted out toward second, but Gameday's umpires didn't see it. That is a mess of extra unnecessary baserunners. TSU took an early 3-2 lead in the first and looked like they would pound away at an overmatched pitcher, but give credit to the Silverhawks' coach-he quick hooked his starter after three hitters and this was the game's turning point. The lefty first baseman came in and kept us off balance for the remainder. The Silverhawks added four in the third and one in the fourth to make it 7-3. It stayed this way until Sharp's 6th inning rally produced only two runs to wrap up the 7-5 loss. Luke DeBenedetti continued to get more comfortable on the mound, coming on in relief in the third and holding Bartlett to one run in the last four innings. He's moved beyond just being the shortstop with a good arm coming in for a mop up inning or two. Now he shows more command and confidence and uses location and speed change effectively to get outs. Luke also reached base three times, stole two bases, and scored two. Nick Nemanich drove in three runs and continues his run for the Guiness Book. Hack Wilson is shaking in his cleats when comparing to Nick's RBIs per game ratio. Matt Callaghan laced another triple-his extra base hit totals are rising quickly. Tim Schneider and Dylan Loftis drove in runs. Alex Tibble reached base twice, stole two, and scored two. No offense to Bartlett, they made it happen and beat us. That is what baseball is about. But in this scribe's humble opinion, this was one we should have taken down. Sisters, please warn your brothers-no more second place finishes, or else!
Notes and Quotes: Brad Roberts showed everyone how flexible the 2nd Place trophy was by making him do a full backbend during Coach Tadd's post game speech. Leave it to Brad to detect a flaw in craftsmanship at just the right moment. At the field the title game was played on, there was a very nice view behind the center field fence. A pack of hotels and office buildings made it remotely look like the backdrop of a big city major league field. Nice facility. Also, the planes taking off over the field from O'Hare gave it a nice Shea Stadium-like touch. All kidding aside about 2nd place finishes, the fellas have done a nice job this year and have consistently performed well in tournaments. We love you guys and will protect you from your female siblings.
Next up: Plainfield Force at Helfair Field-Milwaukee, Romeoville Rattlers, Frankfort Force
Game 42 Team Sharp 3 Barlett Bandits 0
In the second and final pool play game in Schaumburg, we drew the Bartlett Bandits. They came in sporting an impressive 13-3 record in the West Suburban Baseball League(WSBL). This game was very important because only the very top two out of all the teams advance. We needed a win and not a win of the 11-9 variety. Runs allowed is always an important element in these tournaments, but never more important than in this game. It was almost a certainty that there would be three 2-0 teams. The one that gave up the most runs would be sent packing. With that in mind, Coach Gibson sent the dangerous Dylan Loftis to the mound. Dylan has recaptured some of the old magic in 2010 after enduring an up and down 2009. When Dylan doesn't allow walks and hit by pitches, he's a tough customer. In its inaugural year, his curve ball has looked good, usually sporting nice 12-6 rotation. In the top of the first, Loftis walked the lead off hitter(uh oh). And promptly caught him between steps taking his lead off and picked him off at first. He and Collin attended the same "eyes in the back of your head" seminar for pitchers. It has served them well and helped remove base runners in sticky situations. Two ground outs to shortstop later, the Bandits were held to zero and Team Sharp was coming up. The first inning for us was a frustrating one. Luke DeBenedetti walked to start us off and was thrown out on a close play at second. Alex Tibble walked and stole second and was thrown out at home on a single by Tim Schneider. With two outs and runners at second and third, a groundout ended the inning. Neither team was able to break through until Sharp came up in the bottom of the fourth. After one out, Nick Nemanich and Tim Schneider hit back to back singles. Collin Gibson came up and smashed a first pitch offering up the middle for an rbi single. Dylan Loftis hit a sac fly rbi to right and the game was 2-0 going into the top of five. Loftis came out for the fifth and hit the first batter. A flyout to center was followed by another HBP. With runners on first and third, Loftis coaxed a ground ball out back to the pitcher. Two outs and Coach Tadd went to the bullpen. Or centerfield, where Alex Tibble was standing. Alex came in and promptly drilled his first hitter on the first pitch. Bases loaded-bruises on all bases thanks to three hit batsmen. Oh boy-this could be bad. Tibble got the number two hitter in the Bandit order to pop up to the shortstop on the very next pitch to end the threat. TSU couldn't add insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth, leaving Tibble with the chance to notch his first save of the year. You can't argue with a multi inning save opportunity. Remember when big Lee Smith used to come in to the game in the 7th or 8th like every few days for the old early 80's Cubs teams? This was before the "set-up" man was invented. I don't think they wanted "Soup" Campbell anywhere near the game after the 6th. I digress. Tibble came in, with the new flowing locks and semi straight bill with tons of bangs showing, and went to work. He gave up a single to start the inning and got a ground ball from the next hitter right to Luke DeBenedetti, who turned a 6-3 double play. A single and tapper back to Tibble for out #3 wrapped it up. A 2-0 win was just what the doctor ordered. Two wins and three runs allowed in two games advanced TSU to the championship game against the Bartlett Silverhawks. Loftis got the win giving up only two hits over 4 2/3 innings. Tim Schneider and Vin Purpura had two hits each to lead the offense. Nick Nemanich(BB, run), Collin Gibson(rbi), and Matt Callaghan also added hits. This win bumped us to 30-12 and hopefully the right trophy awaits us after the title game.
Notes and Quotes: I never got his first name, but Temesuary, the starting pitcher for Bartlett, pitched a very nice game. He scattered our hits and kept us off balance. I still to this day don't get why my family had so much genuine dislike for big Lee. The Tibble living room would go up for grabs when Smith came in, teeth showing at all times. I think he ended up with like 800 saves. Probably 650 out of the Cubs uniform. I'll figure it out someday.
Game 41 Team Sharp 19 Lemont Indians 3
With the disappointing early exit from the Kledzik in the rear view mirror, Team Sharp set their sights on the Schaumburg Flyers Showdown on June 4-6. A rain filled Friday and early Saturday knocked all games back and the tournament schedule had to be completely revised. Pool play was shortened to two games with the top two advancing to the championship game. With an unusual pool play game #1 start time of 12:15p on Sunday the 6th, Team Sharp went to work against the Lemont Indians. TSU came out firing, scoring eight in the second and nine in the fourth to hammer out a 19-3 win in four innings. Tim Schneider went the distance, striking out four. He cruised early, taking a 32 pitch perfect game into the 4th and final frame. He retired the first two hitters in the fourth only to have his groove broken up by steady rain. Three walks, a triple, and a flyout to right later, the game ended. Schneids got the win, firing a one hitter. We will have to work on baseball's unwritten rule of not talking to the guy with the perfect game. "Duuuude, you have a perfect game going!!!" at volume 10 before your pitcher goes out for his last inning of work is like a guaranteed Whammy. Absolute guaranteed hex. Team Sharp if you are reading this and we ever have a no hitter or perfect game going again, hush up, keep it to yourself, and don't go within 5 feet of the pitcher. Don't even think about using the words no hitter or perfect game. Schneider had a day offensively, as well, going 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, 2 rbis, and 2 runs scored. Alex Tibble also had three hits from the two hole. He tripled, doubled, drove in three, and scored two. Collin Gibson(2 rbis), Dylan Loftis(run, SB), Brad Roberts(2 runs, rbi), Vin Purpura(3 runs, rbi), Matt Callaghan(triple, 4 rbis, 2 runs), and John Parker(triple, 3 rbis, 2 runs) each had two hits for Sharp. The win pushed our record to 29-12.
Notes and Quotes: The bottom three hitters in the order went 6 for 9 with 8 rbis, 2 triples, and 7 runs scored. Production like that from 9-10-11 will lead to nice offensive outputs.
Next up: Bartlett Bandits(13-3 in their league) in the final pool play game.
Game 40 Channahon AllStars 5 Team Sharp 3
With six wins to go in the quest to take down Kledzik '10, TSU faced a tough obstacle at 11am Sunday May 30th. The Channahon Indians would be the opponent. Over the last few years, we've had success against them, but they were all close wins and took a key break to do it. I believe two of them came when a tough starter was knocked out of the game after by being hit by a line drive. They boast a mix of good coaching, pitching, and hitting. They have fast kids, big kids, and skilled kids. And they don't shy away from playing everyone. They are still a part time travel team that plays in PONY tournaments at the end of the year. They could very easily pick and choose and avoid I-80 Premier type competition, but they go after the best teams and it shows with their Pony sanctioned success. With that being said, Coach Gibson had to go with his son Collin to try and tame the boys in red. It speaks volumes for the level of competition in the tournament when you have to go with one of your best in the early stages of the losers bracket. In the top of the first, Channahon broke through for a run after a single, SB, and two wild pitches. It remained 1-0 until the top of the third. Gibson retired the first two hitters of the innning and seemed to be setlling in nicely. An error gave the bottom hitter in the Indian order first base. The leadoff hitter promptly doubled him home to make it 2-0. In the bottom of three, Sharp made two quick outs that were followed by a Matt Callaghan double and a wild pitch that put him on third. John Parker delivered a clutch two out single to make it 2-1. Gibson held Channahon to a goose egg in the top of the fourth and TSU nicked them for another run in the bottom to make it 2-2. We scored this run on a single and steal by Nick Nemanich and a two out single that was laced to right center by Alex Tibble. In the top of the fifth, the Indians got a single to lead off the inning and a sacrifice to get him to second. An error on a ground ball put runners at 1st and 3rd with one out. A single to right scored the go ahead run on a close play at the plate. The runner attempted to advance to second and the throw down to get him sailed into center and rolled all the way to the wall. The hitter who singled in the run was able to go all the way around and score. 4-2 Channahon. Sharp countered with a run in the top of the sixth on a double by Luke DeBenedetti and an RBI groundout by Nick Nemanich. After two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Channahon got a single from their lead off man and an rbi double by their two hitter to go up 5-3. In the top of the seventh, Brad Roberts got things going with a lead off double, but nothing came of it and we dropped a hard fought 5-3 decision. Credit goes out to their pitcher, Carnagio, for gutting out a good performance. He took the ball for seven innings and made some big pitches in tough spots to earn the win in muggy conditions. DeBenedetti doubled and singled for Sharp. Matt Callaghan and Brad Roberts had doubles. Alex Tibble, John Parker, and Nick Nemanich drove in runs. Collin Gibson, Tim Schneider, and Jeremy Nichols added hits for Team Sharp, who dropped to 28-12 on the year.
Notes and Quotes: Schneider threw out two runners at second and grows more comfortable behind the dish every time out. There is really something to be said for a kid who is solid anywhere you put him and never has a word to say about where he plays. The art of shutting up and doing your job is a lost one. Timmy is a Picasso at letting his actions speak louder than his words. Crafty Coll picked off another runner at third. He really knows how to spot when the runner is looking at a plane, glancing back at his coach, or picking his nose. He catches you off balance/not paying attention and throw over at exactly the right time.
Next up: Schaumburg Flyer Showdown June 4-6.
Game 39 Team Sharp 16 Morris Mohawks 2
Still stinging from a tough luck loss to the perennial power Illinois Sparks earlier in the day, TSU was staring at a really difficult road to travel through the losers bracket, Team Sharp took step #1 by defeating the Morris Mohawks 16-2. Luke DeBenedetti got the start in a shift from his normal duty as bullpen flex man extraordinaire. He was aggressive and impressive striking out six batters and allowing no earned runs in three innings. He left the game with a 3-1 lead. Collin Gibson and Nick Nemanich pitched an inning each to nail down the win. After the game was close for the first three, TSU scored 13 in the last two innings. Morris endured a bout with bad control, walking nine. The Mohawks head man searched furiously for the answer by changing pitchers six times, but the search proved fruitless. Nick Nemanich pounded out three hits with an rbi and a walk. Vin Purpura went 2 for 2 with a walk, rbi, and 3 runs. Luke DeBenedetti(BB, double, 3 rbis, 2 runs), Brad Roberts(rbi), Tim Schneider( double, rbi, run), Collin Gibson(rbi, run, 2 SB), Dylan Loftis(2 BB, 3 runs, 4 steals), Jeremy Nichols(double, rbi, 2 runs), and Matt Callaghan(double, 2 rbis, SB) all had hits to push the offense to the 10 run rule decision. One down, six to go. Once upon a time, a little team in blue known as Sonny's Delite in St. Joe's (9-10 yr olds) mustang league was faced with the same long odds. They ran off 7 in a row to win the tournament. That one was held over the course of a week as opposed to the two days TSU has to make it back in the Kledzik. Oh well-dare to dream Sharpies. Bring the sunscreen, a lunch, and siblings who can pitch.
Next up: Channahon Indians 11am Sun May 30
Notes and Quotes: Nick Nemanich had a slick pick off move to third to get an out in his inning of work. The next opponent, Channahon, took fourth in the 2009 Mustang World Series in Dallas, Texas. They were the first Illinois team in many moons to advance out of pool play at that tournament.
Game 38 Orland Sparks - Kutt 6 Team Sharp 4
Heading into the Kledzik quarterfinals against the mighty Illinois Sparks, Team Sharp was confident and ready. Coach Tadd had a plan as this game was very important because the loser would be rejected far far away to the abyss of an 11 team double elimination losers bracket. Who drew that up anyway? The winner would sit pretty in the semifinals and not have to play until Sunday. The Sparks are a known as a dangerous team with many good players. They are a few generations removed from the old Orland Red teams at the 8-9 yr old level that we battled a few years back. Scheduled Sharp starter Alex Tibble had to be scratched and moved near the bottom of the hitting lineup just prior to the contest because of an ankle injury. It is a contract year and his age wanted no further damage. Equally as important, his usual lockdown catching efforts would be absent, as well. In a positive development to counter the bad news on Tibble, the Sparks decided to have their star pitcher, Tim Kutt, handle catching duties instead take the mound in their tournament opener. We thought that may be a big mistake on their part and tried to capitalize early. In the top of the first, Luke DeBenedetti drew a walk and stole second on Kutt. I think everyone was surprised we tried it, but we caught a little bit of a break that the pitch was down and away. Luke did have a nice lead and good jump. The young Sparks catcher showed his cannon by making it a close play at second. Three walks later on good at bats by Nick Nemanich, Collin Gibson, and Dylan Loftis, Luke scored to make it 1-0. Dylan Loftis and his improving curve ball earned the start. He held the Sparks to a goose egg in the first. In the top of the second, Vin Purpura was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Two outs later, John Parker singled. Luke DeBenedetti sharply grounded the ball to the shortstop and he couldn't decide if he wanted to force the runner at second or goto first with it. It slipped in his glove and he held the ball. 2-0 Sharp with runners at 1st and 2nd. Brad Roberts singled to load the bases. Nick Nemanich came up in time to single in two runs to make it 4-0. It remained 4-0 until the bottom of the third when the Sparks worked two bottom of the order walks from Loftis. A clutch two out double on a hanging 3-2 curve from their lead off man cut the lead to 4-2. We were unable to score after the 2nd and the boys from Orland rallied for 4 in the fourth to go up 6-4. This lead held up until the game ended in the 5th because of time. A crushing blow to the hopes of Team Sharp in the 2010 Kledzik. They would now have to fly in Danny Almonte and rip off 7 straight for the crown or something like. Dylan Loftis pitched well, only allowing six hits. However, two walks and a HBP led to 3 Sparks' runs. The good teams will make you pay and that team is good. Nick Nemanich(BB, 2 rbi) and Vin Purpura(HBP, run) had two hits to lead the offense. Brad Roberts, Tim Schneider, Dylan Loftis(rbi), and John Parker(run) also had hits. The story of our season seems to read, "We were right there, but didn't close the show." We are truly neck and neck with most teams on most days, but the big ones, to date, have gotten away from us. A pitch here or there, a defensive shift or anticipation, smart baserunning, hitting your cutoff man and good jumps on fly balls can be the types of differences that determine winning and losting. It was a good effort and ballgame by our guys and they can hold their heads high after this loss.
Notes and Quotes:We stranded 5 runners in the first two innings and nine for the 5 inning game-one or two more big hits may have changed the outcome.
Next up: Morris Mohawks at 5:30 pm Sat May 29 deep in the losers bracket(look wayyyy in the bottom left).
Game 37 Team Sharp 12 Troy Titans 2
On May 28, Team Sharp made its return to the Kledzik Tournament at Four Seasons Park in Plainfield. In the 2007 & 2008(St. Joe's) and 2009 seasons, Team Sharp made a fair amount of noise in this well known and attended event. Under the St. Joe's flag in 2008, the boys went 5-2 and took the Force from Plainfield to the very last game after a great run of pitching and defense got them there. Unfortunately, we ran out of pitching, wilted in the heat in our third game of the day, and took second place. Coach Tadd took a heated round of heckling from some Force grandpas that day. They didn't appreciate his tendency to stop the game and make sure his squad was on the same page. We also all found out that day that you can't bunt on the Goetsch. In 2009, in Sharp's inaugural year, the boys cemented their reputation as a team that would play D and pitch beyond their years. Sharp went 3-2 and took third place, but posted as nice a run as you could imagine given those numbers. We beat Wheatland Gold 3-2, lost to the Force 2-1, beat Channahon 4-2, beat Victory 1-0, and lost to the Force 4-3 in an incredibly well played nine inning game. Allowing 9 runs in 5 games was outstanding. Quality competition and high pressure games didn't faze our ten year olds. They really grew as players and showed something last Memorial Day weekend. Troy would be the first opponent in the 2010 version of the Kledzik. Tim Schneider drew the pitching assignment against the familiar foe from around the block in Shorewood. Schneids didn't disappoint. He went three innings and gave up two earned runs and left with a 6-2 lead. Dylan Loftis and Jeremy Nichols pitched the next two innings and held the Titans to 0 runs. The offense added 6 more in the last two innings and took a 12-2 five inning victory. This was a nice start to the tournament. Good pitching holding Troy to 2 runs when they tagged us for 9 last time out. Matt Callaghan had two hits and an rbi. Luke DeBenedetti and Tim Schneider posted identical numbers. They each had a double, rbi, walk, steal, and 2 runs scored. Nick Nemanich reached base three times and scored twice. Alex Tibble(rbi, run), Dylan Loftis(2 runs, 2 steals), Brad Roberts(run, SB, 2 rbis), Vin Purpura(2 SB, run), and Jeremy Nichols(rbi, run) all had hits to help the balanced attack. We didn't exactly crush the ball, however. Troy had six errors to help our cause. Jack Naal, who used to be one of our own, pitched a better ball game than it would look like on the scoreboard.
Notes and Quotes: Alex Tibble ran gingerly on a tender right ankle. This was cause for concern and hopefully wouldn't be a problem moving forward in the tournament. The Kledzik continues to be a great tournament for a special cause. Barb Kledzik's energy and passion are second to none. The TSU coaching staff loves the great competition, fun opposing coaches and lots of Maui Wowis (or Bud Light depending on your age) as highlights to the weekend.
Next Up: Illinois Sparks (Kutt) at 1:15 Sat. May 29 in quarterfinal play.
North Aurora Awards:
Hitters of the tournament:
Nick Nemanich 9 for 17 2 doubles, 9 rbis
Alex Tibble 8 for 16 5 rbis, 6 runs, 5 steals
Brad Roberts 8 for 17 8 rbis, 4 runs
Pitchers of the tournament:
Alex Tibble 1-0, 8 innings, 7 K's, 0 BB, 2 ER
Collin Gibson 1-0, 7 innings, 7 K's, 5 ER
Game 36 Team Sharp 4 North Aurora 3 (3rd Place game)
The much desired rematch with Victory Black went down the tubes with the semifinal loss to Top Prospects. Instead of playing for the title, we were smooching our sister. The ornery sister from North Aurora that gives us heck every time we come around. It was muggy, the Hawks were playing, and we were going for third. They all count, however, and we wanted to make a good showing under less than desirable circumstances. Collin Gibson got the start and went three innings and gave up two earned runs. Unfortunately, he received no run support, and left the game down 3-0. Tim Schneider entered the game in the fourth and breezed to a 3 inning outing where he gave up no runs or hits and threw only 30 pitches. It was up to our hitters to respond and make his effort worthwhile. After sleepwalking through the first four innnings, the offense heard the alarm go off in the fifth. With two outs, Luke DeBenedetti was hit by a pitch. He stole second and Alex Tibble knocked him in with a single to make it 3-1. Tim Schneider followed with an rbi double to make it 3-2. I think you know who bats next. Yes, I reintroduce you to Nicky Nemanich. Two out rbi single to tie it at 3. I know now why Nick never says too much. His 60 rbis in 36 games do his talking for him. TSU came up in the bottom of six with the hope of (GULP) not ending a third place game in a tie. A tie. Painful. Particularly if it's for 3rd. Two quick outs had things looking bleak for the good guys. Vin Purpura kept hope alive with a single and stolen base. Matt Callaghan casually strode to the plate and ripped his patent pending rocket deep to right for a game winning double. Pandemonium broke loose. Not on the field. In the stands, where the TSU faithful scattered like cockroaches when the light comes on to try and get a glimpse of their beloved Hawks. 4-3 was the final and third place was ours. Is it bad that i know how roaches react when the light comes on? I hope everyone got that reference. ANNNNYWHOOOO. In three games this tournament, Team Sharp faced a gut check being behind late in the game. 6-5 to Bolingbrook, 5-2 and 3-0 in separate games vs. North Aurora. We came back and got all three. In my mind, the kids have come a long way in the maturity/toughness/will to win department. Obviously, the opportunity for the big trophies slipped away. We did, however, manage to bump our record to 26-10, well ahead of last year's pace. Above and beyond that record are the signs that kids are growing as a team and as people. The entire coaching staff was proud of the effort in games that weren't easy wins. Keep it up fellas.
Notes and Quotes:North Aurora boasts a very nice facility and runs a nice tournament. I really like the grill kicking about 30 feet behind home plate sending out smells that enhance the atmosphere even more.... I don't ever want to hear the term HARD STOP again.
Game 35 Top Prospects 8 Team Sharp 5 (Semifinals)
Sporty a nifty 4-0 record heading into the semi finals of the North Aurora Summer Classic, Team Sharp earned the right to face the Top Prospects 11u from Elgin. They are one of those teams that you can see is tough before they even take the field. Confident aura, good uniforms, and athletes that look the part just walking around eating sandwiches. Add to that their head guy is in full uniform looking like a young Buck Schowalter and we knew we had our hands full. Dylan Loftis drew the assignment and pitched well. He gave up a single and retired the next three batters for a scoreless first. In the home half of the inning, Sharp hitters Luke DeBenedetti and Alex Tibble nailed back to back singles. Tibble stole second to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. On a passed ball, Luke was cut down trying to score on a close play at the plate. With two outs, Nick Nemanich came through yet again with an rbi single to knock in Tibble. 1-0 Sharp heading to top of 2nd. In the Prospects' second at bat, they got it going. Two singles and a walk had the bases loaded with nobody out. On a 2-0 pitch, Loftis kept it down and coaxed a ground ball back to the mound. Loftis quickly threw to Tibble catching, he stepped on the plate and gunned down the runner to complete the 1-2-3 double play. Loftis rolled another ground out to end the inning and snuff out the rally. Sharp was retired in order in the bottom of the second. The Prospects wasted a one out double in the top of the 3rd by popping out twice on the infield to end the inning. TSU failed to tally in the bottom of three. The score remained 1-0 until the boys from Elgin tied it in the 4th. Two singles and an error sandwiched around a pop out to third had the bases loaded with nobody out. A single drove in a run and kept the bags loaded. On a well placed 3-1 pitch, Loftis and Tibble turned yet another 1-2-3 twin killing. The score stayed tied at 1 until the Prospects finally broke through. In the top of the fifth, they broke through for six runs and in the sixth they picked up another to make it 8-1 heading into our last at bat. On a hot day in a disappointing situation, the Sharpies responded with some heart and fought back. Ten hitters went to the plate and four scored, but the rally fell short with the bags loaded and the Prospects took an 8-5 decision. Luke DeBenedetti(double, rbi, run, 2 SB) and Nick Nemanich(2 rbis) had two hits. Alex Tibble singled, walked twice, stole two bases, and scored a run. Matt Callaghan(double, rbi) and Collin Gibson added hits. With another tournament title in sniffing range, another tough loss kept us out of the money. We were outplayed, however, and the Prospects were the better team that day.
Notes and Quotes: At 87 degrees with humidity, the conditions were summerlike for the first time in 2010. With a shady dugout and picnic table close by TSU was safe and sound from the searing heat. Our guys were not affected negatively by it this game, but remember when 87 and humid was a perfect day? Now it's a four alarm emergency to keep our little guys alive for the afternoon. No one wants to hear a "back in my day" speech from a 36 year old, but my goodness. Maybe if we coddled the boys a little less, they'd be a little tougher. Better safe than sorry i guess.
Next up: North Aurora in the 3rd place game although (led by Ross Purpura) some minds were wandering to what the Blackhawks were up to.
Game 34 Team Sharp 11 Wasco 1
Very early on Sunday May 22nd, Team Sharp found out the seeding situation and who the opponent would be in the quarterfinals. In a weird twist, Victory Black and Sharp finished 3-0 in pool play and the rest of the teams went 1-2. We received the 2 seed as a result of Victory giving up less runs. The Wasco Warriors, probably a top four or five team in the field, were the seven seed and our matchup at 11:15am. TSU sent Alex Tibble to the hill after a solid performance on Friday night. He was impresive and earned the win in this one by striking out four, walking none, and giving up one run over four innings. The Sharp offense was efficient and on point, scoring two in the first two frames, three in the third, and four in the fourth to wrap up an efficient, arm saving 11-1 ten run rule win. Brad Roberts was on fire. He went 3 for 3 with 2 rbi's and two runs, including the clutch hit with two outs in the bottom of four that ended the game and saved a few innings worth of pitching. Collin Gibson went 2 for 2 with a walk, rbi, run, and 3 steals. Vin Purpura was steady as she goes nailing down a 2 for 2 game with a double, rbi, and run scored. Luke DeBenedetti, Alex Tibble, and Tim Schneider reached base 6 of 9 times at the top of the order. They combined for six runs and four steals. John Parker walked and drove in a run. It was a nice win against a nice team. Wasco is always classy and well coached. The win pushed our season record to 25-9.
Notes and Quotes: The laces are lined up nicely for the last two games of the tourney. I have mentioned it before, but our pitching depth has repeatedly put us in good position to win on tournament Sundays. Tibble has had some tough luck/rough outings this year, but he picked a good spot to have two of his best of '10 back to back. Next up:Top Prospects(Elgin) in 1:15pm semi final. Victory Black vs. N. Aurora on the other side.
Game 33 Team Sharp 7 North Aurora 5
Carrying a 2-0 pool play record, Team Sharp faced North Aurora in the final game before seeding. This was an important game because a top seed could make life a bit easier on Sunday. The memory of a stinging loss a few years back wearing the St. Joes blues against this very team was still hanging around. I think the loss forced us to take Hats (with 2nd place on them) instead of hardware. I think those found the fire pit at Coach DeBo later in the night after a brief brush with local law enforcement officials. Coach Tadd sent old reliable Alex Tibble to the mound to try and tame the hosts. He answered the bell by giving up one run and one hit over four innnings, striking out 3, and walking none. Luke DeBenedetti accounted for both Sharp runs in the first four frames to help Tibble leave with a 2-1 lead. In the first, Luke D. singled, stole second, and went to third on a wild pitch. Tim Schneider drove him in with a groundout. In the third, he walked, stole second, and was driven home by a Tibble base hit. In the top of the fifth, however, N. Aurora rallied. Two one out walks and four hits in a row lead to four runs and a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of five. Would it be another stinging loss to this well schooled bunch? With any signs of desparation, Team Sharp quickly got back to their feet and put up five of their own in a time consuming half innning. With a 7-5 lead, we took the field to try and hold on in the top of the sixth. With a single, walk, and HBP, N. Aurora loaded the bags with one out. Coach Tadd then took the famous stroll to the mound to talk things over knowing how much time was left. Every one was on the edge of their seat. Could we hang on and possibly get the top seed? David Lee Roth's voice-"CLASS DISMISSED!" In the middle of a 6th innning bags loaded rally, the old HARD STOP came into play. Time's up, boys. Get off those bases and go shake hands. Brutal. Needless to say the home crowd lost it. Fans were up on picnic tables winging debris on the field. Profanity was heard and the umps ran for cover. Just kidding-it wasn't that bad. But i think the hard stop will be up for a re-vote before Sunday. With a 3-0 record in pool play, TSU was guaranteed at least a 2 seed. Alex Tibble(2 SB) and Nick Nemanich(double) both had two hits and 2 rbis to lead the offense. Lead off hitter Luke DeBenedetti reached base three times, scored three, and stole two bases. Vin Purpura and Dylan Loftis added hits. Collin Gibson walked and took one for the team to reach twice. He was horrified to find out that we actually DID NOT have ice, which is directly the opposite of what is usually promised loudly from the peanut gallery. Coll swore off taking one for the team until further notice.
Notes and Quotes:Give credit where credit belongs-North Aurora is solid. It seemed a few years ago we took a flukey loss to them. The more we get familiar with that team, the easier it is to see that they are tough. They are what i call a "body of work" bunch. You may yawn the first time you see them, but you are more impressed after every meeting. This isn't a rip to them, it's a compliment. This scribe would classify Team Sharp 11u in the same category.
NEXT UP: quarterfinals vs. #7 or #8 seed.
Game 32 Team Sharp 10 Geneva Blue 3
Following the big win against Bolingbrook, the TSU parents had the good fortune of a long span between games to get the kids the heck out of dodge and keep them from losing focus for game two. Conveniently, Coach Tadd headed to nearby Rosary for a High School Regional Soccer Championship and cheered on Taylor to a victory and some pictures with her holding her 1st Regional championship plaque. The 3:30 start allowed the other families to get home and get protein shakes, power naps, enjoy some a/c, and their fill of Call of Duty #6 or whatever the newest hottest gore game is called. Thank you kindly to Kris Callaghan for out routing even mapquest with the brilliant Rt 126 to Minkler Rd. to Orchard shortcut to save the parents some travel time. Might be coming to the Oswego area more often now that we are aware of that route. Nice. Back to the game, as Geneva would be the game 2 opponent. If anyone remembers, we played them in a DH last year at their place and we had a little pizza fest between games with some really nice coaches and families from the Geneva area. Ahhh, Johnny Parks and x-mate Ty Hakey both went deep that day. Ooooooo, the pizza was Aurelio's if my enormous gut remembers correctly. And it usually does. I could put that sauce in a canteen and drink it.... Bring it back.....Focus....... Oh yeah, baseball! Geneva sported some really fresh Dodger looking uniforms and we knew they were a worthy opponent from the loss they put on us last year in the DH split. Collin Gibson earned the start as he projects more and more command every time out. He got it done again, going four innings, striking out six, and holding Geneva to three runs. He left with a 5-3 lead. Sharp mashed out 5 in the 5th and Luke Debenedetti came in and shut them down in the last half to make it a 10-3 final. Debenedetti(2B, 2 runs, rbi), Nick Nemanich(hbp, run), Collin Gibson(run), Dylan Loftis(BB, rbi, 2 SB), Brad Roberts(hbp, run, 2 rbis), Vin Purpura(2 runs), and John Parker(rbi) all had hits for Team Sharp. Truth be told, Geneva shot themselves in the foot a little with four errors at very bad times. We didn't exactly scald the ball to earn our ten runs. We aren't giving it back, though. We've given away a few ourselves.
Notes and Quotes: After hitting in the top of the sixth and warming up to face Geneva in what we thought would be the last inning, we were introduced to the world's worst baseball concept. The HARD STOP. Even though it was in our favor-it felt wrong. Geneva was not allowed to bat in the bottom of 6 because the game reached the hard stop time limit. The top of the sixth was washed and that was it. When the hard stop is reached-game over. No last bats. No finishing the inning. Game. Whoever thought of that concept surely won't fess up to it.
Next up: North Aurora 6pm in pool play finale.
Game 31 Team Sharp 11 Bolingbrook Rampage 7
The North Aurora Summer Classic would be the venue for Team Sharp's current weekend of baseball development. The undefeated WSBL Bolingbrook Rampage were the first opponent in pool play, originally scheduled for Friday night. The rains came, however, and sent the game to Saturday at 9am. A tough six games in 30 hour assignment loomed for TSU. The parents didn't mind-we finally got to see a Hawks playoff game. I keep texting Rocky W. our schedule, but i never get a response. Tim Schneider got the ball bright and early Saturday and faced a team that was 13-0 in their version of the I-80 league based in the western suburbs. Sharp took an early 5-0 lead into the third when the Rampage rallied for six. The good guys reclaimed the lead in the top of the fourth with 3 runs to make it 8-6. Sharp never looked back after that, outscoring Bolingbrook 3-1 over the final two to make it an 11-7 final. Dylan Loftis picked up the win in relief. He was masterful, striking out seven, giving up one run and no hits. Brad Roberts came out swinging with four hits and three rbis. Alex Tibble(2B, 2 rbis) and Nick Nemanich(2B, 2 rbis, 2 steals) had three hits each. John Parker had two hits and 2 runs scored. Loftis drew three walks and scored. Luke Debenedetti had two runs and two walks. Matt Callaghan ripped another 2 rbi double and continued his ascent up the TSU extra base hit charts. This was a nice comeback game from the Victory Black debacle. Bolingbrook was a quality opponent and this game could have gone either way.
Notes and Quotes:The overhand slow curve from Dylan and Tim gave the Rampage some problems in this game. This tourney features two pools of four teams each with everyone advancing to a fully seeded 8 team bracketed do or die scenario on Sunday. I like the four game guarantee and the chance for any team to get hot and win it despite anything that went down the day before. It also makes for some tough pitching decisions and puts a premium on getting a good seed. Nice Format.
Next up: Geneva 3:45pm in game two of pool play.
Game 30 Victory Black 11 Team Sharp 1
The day after a late school night road matchup with Homer, TSU headed to Manhattan to face off against Victory Black in an I-80 conference game. Two lessons were learned before the first pitch was even thrown. Manhattan always meant a plane ride to New York for Coach Tadd and this sleepy Team Sharp crew can't play a mid-week 8pm start followed by 5:45pm start south of Joliet. Coach Tadd is continually looking at ways to improve and this lesson was communicated to the parents via an email apology. Back to the few highlights in this game, Sharp jumped to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Alex Tibble walked, Tim Schneider singled, Colin Gibson walked, and Dylan Loftis walked to drive in Tibble. If only Mom would have called us home to dinner at that moment. No such luck. Victory Black efficiently hammered away to an 11-1 5 inning win with timely hits, some TSU defensive help and some walks. After Coach Tadd arrived late from a High School soccer tilt he agreed with the opposing coaches to go a couple extra rounds to get some additional mid-week innings knowing there was a good chance we might face Victory in the championship this weekend. Those few extra innings were played to get the kids some more game experience instead of heading out early. Unfortunately, it wasn't a good experience, either. If you weren't there to see them, you can do your own investigation as to how they went. Dylan Loftis went 2 for 2 with an rbi and a walk. Brad Roberts singled and walked. Nick Nemanich and Tim Schneider had hits. Tibble reached base twice and scored.
Notes and Quotes: Keep in mind, Victory also had a late game the night before so excuses can't be thrown around that loosely. It didn't cause them to yawn and lay an egg. We were missing two players and Coach Tadd got caught in traffic. This doesn't excuse the nine players that were on the field for this game for the listless effort put forward. When the boys are whining about a sunny 79 degree day being too hot and they jog their pre game lap like they were being sent to the firing squad, the outcome of the game wasn't surprising. It was a disappointing day for Team Sharp for reasons beyond the final score. Let's not make excuses for the boys, they got knocked around on this day by a tougher team with better leaders that wanted it more. Hopefully it didn't feel good, it was a long ride home to civilization with a full tongue lashing and we can chalk it up as a lesson learned. The only bright side is we didn't show any pitching and some players were talking of a rematch this weekend.
Next up: North Aurora Tourney and hopefully that rematch with Victory Black will prove we aren't the worst 11u team in the Midwest.
Game 29 Team Sharp 17 Homer Heat 4
On Tuesday May 18th, Team Sharp made the hike over the canal and squared off against the Homer Heat. The Heat play in a beautiful, well maintained facility with all the amenities-almost on par with the Field of Screams in J-town. From the get go, TSU was on point and hacked their way to a 17-4 win. Luke Debenedetti went three innings in his crossover start from the bullpen to earn the win. He gave up one run on two hits and left the game with an 8-1 lead. Luke also went 3 for 4 with 2 runs, 2 rbis, and 2 steals. Jeremy Nichols and Nick Nemanich mopped up the final two frames to seal the five inning win. Tim Schneider(double, 3 rbis), Nick Nemanich(double, 3 rbis), and Vin Purpura(2 runs, rbi) had two hits each. In his return to the old stomping grounds, Johnny "Parks" had two hits, 3 rbis, a walk, and a steal. Alex Tibble reached base three times, had three steals, and scored twice. Matt Callaghan singled, walked twice, scored three, stole two, and drove in a run. Collin Gibson doubled home a run. Jeremy Nichols reached twice, scored two, and drove in a run. It was an efficient, business like win. In a game where we could have lost focus and got full of ourselves, TSU responded well and got the job done. The win sends our season mark to 21-8.
Notes and Quotes:If the NHL could continue to consult with Team Sharp's schedule to make sure we don't get a single glimpse at the Hawks' Stanley Cup run, that would be much appreciated.
Next up: Victory Gold in an I-80 tilt Wed., North Aurora tourney May 21-23
Game 28 Team Sharp 16 Will County Lightning 8 (Game 2)
When a team bangs out a 16-1 win in the first game of a doubleheader, human nature takes over and complacency can set in quickly. The natural train of thought is, "we own this team, let's get game 2 over with." This is where expert coaching comes in. da doom doom chhhhhhhhh. Hello?? Is this microphone on? Seriously, the kids had to get it together and avoid a letdown. They did just that and knocked out another 15 runs on 16 hits and came home with a 16-8 win. Dylan Loftis benefitted from the run support and bagged the win. He struck out six and gave up only two runs through the first three innings. Jeremy Nichols, Luke Debenedetti, and Matt Callaghan combined for the last three innings of work. Callaghan was spot on, striking out one and coaxing two ground outs for a 1-2-3 sixth. Soapbox time. I firmly believe we need him to start warming up behind the RF fence and when Coach Tadd waves his left hand Call leaps the fence and runs a 4.45 40 time in to the pitcher's mound. Hat cocked, hair flying, tip-toeing over hot coals, the whole shot. The first warm up pitch, like old faithful, has to be an 82 mph side arm heater that goes three feet over Al's head. "Blackened" by Metallica blaring over the loud speakers. That would be nice. I digress...Offensively, Alex Tibble stayed hot by going 3 for 4 with a double, 3 runs, 3 steals, and 2 rbis. Tim Schneider(2 rbis, 2 steals, 2 runs), Nick Nemanich(double, 3 rbis, 3 steals, 2 runs), Jeremy Nichols(2 sb), and Vin Purpura(3 sb) each nailed two hits. Callaghan reached base three times. He was drilled twice and on his third at bat he produced one of the hardest hit balls of the season. He turned on a full count offering and scorched a line drive well over the RF's head and about 10 feet inside the foul line to deep right. He sprinted all the way around for a two run home run. Luke Debendetti had a double, walk, 2 runs, 2 sb's, rbi, and a SAC bunt. Collin Gibson(rbi), Brad Roberts(rbi), and John Parker(run) all contributed hits as well. This effort ran TSU's record to 20-8 for the year. Very nice pace with tough games and tournaments ahead.
Notes and Quotes: I would like to personally inform all infielders how lucky they are to have on Vin Purpura as their 1B. Vin is a guy who quietly gets on base, gets down bunts, draws walks, and gets things cooking at the bottom of the order. His exploits in the field are never mentioned in these summaries, so i thought i'd break the drought. His ability to move around at the bag, stretch and contort his body to any shape/angle to get to errant throws, and field ground balls is exceptional. It's like when you have a sweet ride like my 1995 Yukon. Initially, you are overwhelmed by the luxury, but after a while-it's just your car and you take it for granted. That's how Vinny is-he's so darn good over there, we take him for granted. Only he's no War Wagon. He's like a Lambo or a Rolls. Vinny, nice job. You are a steadying influence and can talk hockey with the best of them while being a gentleman and a scholar. Just so you know, Coach Tibbs appreciates the heck out of you. Don't forget that when you are divying up free tickets as the NY Rangers goalie playing at the UC in the winter of 2020.
Next up: Homer Heat, Victory Black, North Aurora Tournament
Game 27 Team Sharp 16 Will County Lightning 1 (Game 1)
Looking to get the offense back on track and the ship righted following two tough losses where the boys managed a combined 1 run on 3 hits, Team Sharp headed to College View subdivision in Lockport near Lewis University to face the newly formed Will County Lightning. The Lightning took a neighborhood backstop and with a bunch of hard work turned it into a nice home field. They are made up of youngsters from the Lockport/Romeovile/Homer area. It was a gorgeous day for baseball with high skies and tons of fresh air. The TSU parents were excited not only about the prospect of seeing an 11u twinbill, but also the Blackhawks Western Conference Finals opener at San Jose. Blackberries were smoking in the stands. So were Janelle and Erica. Thank you. I'll be here the rest of my life. Enough joshing-let's get to it. In the opener, Coach Tadd went with Alex Tibble as his starter. He responded with an efficient 35 pitch, 3K, 3 inning, 1 ER performance that helped Sharp cruise to a 16-1 win. Nick Nemanich and Brad Roberts hurled the final three innings to seal up the W. Tibble had a bounce back day at the plate going 2 for 2 with two walks, four steals, and four runs scored. Nick Nemanich had a pedestrian yawner of a day by his standards: 2 for 3 with a walk, double, 2 rbis and 2 runs. You can almost pencil that in in the book before the game starts. He has been that money this season. Dylan Loftis(2b, 2 rbis, run) also had two hits. Matt Callaghan doubled in a run in his ongoing march toward baseball maturation/improvement. The ball has been sizzling off his bat more and more consistently. Tim Schneider(2b, 3 runs, 2 rbis), Luke Debenedetti(rbi, hbp), Collin Gibson(2 runs, bb, rbi), Brad Roberts(rbi, run), and Jeremy Nichols(rbi) each had hits. On defense, Tibble picked off a runner at second on the hang the leg move to second. Debendetti-Gibson-Purpura and Loftis-Tibble-Purpura combined for a 6-4-3 and 4-6-3 twin killing. Overall this game was a nice one to get us back in a confident mode. If we faced one more ace pitcher, i think the kids would have gone on strike citing bad working conditions.
Game 26 Orland Sparks (Anderson) 1 Team Sharp 0
On Saturday, May 15th, the boys from Team Sharp headed to Oak Forest to play the always tough Orland Park Sparks in an I-80 tilt. Playing the class organization of the travel baseball world and competing against 2 great coaches always a great challenge. Last meeting between the two came in Battle Creek, Michigan for the 2009 Cereal Bowl World Series title. If memory serves me correct, the Sparks outlasted TSU 4-2 in a well played affair that gave us some confidence moving forward that we could go head to head with heavyweight teams. The Sparks continue to trot out a deep pitching staff, a lineup full of solid hitters, and the nation's most excitable third base coach. They come to play and will blast you if you don't bring your A game. The Oswego Flash, Collin Gibson, earned the start. He started the first a little shaky, walking the first two hitters. They advanced to second and third with nobody out. Gibson got the three hitter to hit a comeback to the mound and threw out the runner from third trying to score. With first and third and one out, the Sparks tried to take the usually free base at second. Alex Tibble threw through and nailed the runner at second while the runner at third stayed put. Two outs and Coll got the clean up hitter to go 6-3 to end a promising inning. Sharp couldn't mark in the first and Orland came out in the second with a lead off double. Alex Tibble made a tremendous catch up the first base line to get out #1. Gibson retired the next hitter himself on a come backer to the mound. A two out walk put runners at first and third. The Sparks sent the runner from first who stopped half way foiling Coach Tadd's plan for another exciting ending to an inning. This allowed the runner from third to take off and barely beat the throw from Luke Debenedetti back to the plate with would be the eventual winning run. Chalk one up for the Angel/Anderson coaching tandem and giving a 1-0 lead to the Sparks in the second. From here, there is nothing else to speak of. Luke D. walked and stole second in the first. Collin Gibson singled for TSU's lone hit and stole second in the fifth. Alex Tibble walked and stole second in the seventh. None of them scored. A well played 1-0 loss is all TSU would have to show for this afternoon's work. Give credit to Orland's pitching, but it felt like a wasted opportunity when your own pitchers perform so admirably. Gibson gave up one run on two hits in three innings. Tim Schneider gave up zero hits, zero walks, and had four K's in three innings of relief. Luke Debenedetti retired the side in the seventh and continued his successful run as our version of Marmol/Jenks. Good pitching will beat good hitting on most days and this one was no exception. Sometimes the 11-8 win is more fun, but a game like this makes the players tougher, better, and more ready to play in bigger, more pressure packed tournament games that we will surely see. Even in defeat, May 15, 2010 was a good day in the ongoing story of Team Sharp.
Twib notes: Kudos to the Sparks SS who made a great play deep in the hole in the bottom of the 7th which ultimately might have saved the game. The post-game coaches meeting was full of great baseball conversation and there is a chance world hunger, the gulf oil spill and uniform health care were solved and submitted to President Obama. Great to catch up with fellow coaching friends.
For Games 23-25
On Saturday May 8th, Kankakee State Park hosted the Play before Mommy Day event for the second straight year. It is a tripleheader day for each teams in round robin style pool play. Team Sharp drew Jacksonville, Orland Park and the Lockport Vipers. This tournament is the result of the hard work and coordination of Wayne Hibler (Victory Gold). He is a first class guy who always has the best interest of the kids in mind and Team Sharp was honored to be one of the first teams he called to participate. Hanging with coaches named Kutt, Poe, Mulder, Travis, etc coupled with a steak and Bud Light just made the day extra special. The emphasis was on camradarie and interaction between the teams when they break for a picnic style lunch before the last games of the day. The Moms are honored with high fives, hugs, and roses. It is a lovefest out there which is a good thing for 11U baseball. Our kids don't realize how much they have in common with their opponents. We all get caught up sometimes in the different uniforms and the thirst for victory instead of love and respect for fellow human beings. It is a well run event with a refreshing concept. On to the games and back to Win, Win, Win. Just Kidding!
Game 25 Lockport 8 Team Sharp 1 (G3 Tourney)
G3 of the day was the one game TSU would like to forget. After eating 36 hamburgers and hot dogs, numerous bags of chips, handfuls of cookies while watching x-mate Madi Mulder lock horns against the Lockport Cobras - TSU could not flip the switch after the flower ceremony. G3 was a great lesson for TSU. All those questions about how good is this team or that team extra right before the game doesn't matter. Playing the Lockport Vipers (as supposed to be B team) will be a lasting memory. The Vipers showed up ready to play. This is a team TSU rolled 21-4 last year in Battle Creek, but they didn't have a hot pitcher named Justin Garcia. The coaching staff had them well prepared and motivated to take TSU down. Some great defense accounted for 17 of the 18 outs. TSU gave up a couple early and packed it in for the day. Hats off to a much improved Viper team and their talented coaching staff. At least on this day, no one should say they are the second team in Lockport. The Lockport Vipers laid one on us to the tune of 8-1. To their credit, they kicked our butts. Garcia, a big right hander, consistently got ahead, got his off speed stuff over and cruised to a two hit, six inning gem. Luke Debendetti singled in the only run and Dylan Loftis had a hit and two steals. Vin Purpura walked and that was that. No more offense to report. The defense was porous as well, committing four errors. We dropped to 18-7 and face some tougher games ahead against well rounded teams with stud pitchers. The boys will be tested often this year and I, for one, believe this game was a bump in the road and we'll perform better as things move forward.
Tournament Notes and Quotes: In the middle of about a four team throng after the picnic and before game three, TSU players met some new guys, held court and had more than a few players from other towns were all ears which was pretty cool to see all the kids interacting. I can't and dont want to imagine what was being said in there. I think Brad and Callaghan were our spokesmen. Okay, here it comes. Picture our team's personality. Picture a loosey goosey fun day type atmosphere with mondo grub thrown in just for kicks. Now picture looking in their ketchup stained faces and telling them, "Let's get serious here and win a ball game." No response from the fellas. It was a fun day and we lost them after the first two games.
Game 24 Team Sharp 5 Orland Park Magic 2 (Tourney G2)
In game two, TSU kept the momentum going by beating the Orland Magic 5-2. Collin Gibson went 4 2/3 inings with good command prior to hitting his pitch count limit. He struck out four, walked none, and gave up one earned run to keep Orland in check. Tim Schneider came in for the last four outs to pick up the save. Schneids also had two hits. Nick Nemanich kept up his face melting pace with a single, double, and two runs batted in. Luke D, Coll, Dyl, Jer, Vinnie, and Brad had singles. Catt Mallaghan blasted a ground rule rbi double that bounced over the fence in right. John Parker also drove in a run. TSU moved to 18-6 after the first 24 games, Sharp has well surpassed the 2009 pace for wins. Unfortunately, baseball-wise this was the turning point of the day, the kids were dismissed for food and fun. This would play a key role in game three. Stay tuned.
Game 23 Team Sharp 12 Jacksonville Lightning 5 (Tourney G1)
In the opener, the Sharpies laced it up against the Jacksonville Lightning. TSU came out a little slow kicking the ball around and falling behind 5-1 early. TSU finally woke up on a chilly cold day and scored ten in the third with a barrage of walks and singles and cruised to a 12-5 win. Alex Tibble got the win by pitching the entire 4 innings giving up two earned runs. Tibble(rbi), Nick Nemanich(rbi), Collin Gibson(2b, bb, 2rbi), Dylan Loftis(rbi), Brad Roberts(rbi), and John Parker(2 rbis) had hits for the winners. Brad Roberts returned from Mexico looking nice and tan. I was ready to play but was wearing his brother's grey and black pants which were only about 3 sizes too big. We knew he had big shoes to fill following Jake's lead, but his pants too? Luke Debenedetti continued to find his way on base. He reached three times, stole a base, drove in a run, and scored three times. Vin Purpura reached twice and Timmy Schneider had a sac fly rbi. Coach Tadd was pleased beating a tough Jacksonville team, but we did have had our patented Ringling Brothers inning where we gift wrapped a few runs with squirrely defensive play. This was one of those days we could overcome the break in concentration. TSU will swim more ably with the bigger fish when we learn to concentrate on defense. The ability is out there, sometimes the focus isn't. Jacksonville is a quality team with quality coaches that Coach Tadd will be lining up games with in the future.
Game 22 Team Sharp 14 Troy Titans 9
After putting up mega offense at Rockford's May Day Classic, Team Sharp took the short trip south near I-80 and the Dupage River to face the Troy Titans. Last season in a forgettable effort, the Sharpies dumped a 4-3 decision in a cloud of attacking insects. With revenge in mind, TSU jumped out to a 10-1 by the second inning and ripped off 14 runs and 15 hits in the first four innnings and cruised to a 14-9 win. Timmy Schneider was on fire, going 4 for 4 with a double, 2 runs, and two rbis. Alex Tibble(double, rbi, 2 steals, 2runs), Collin Gibson(2b, 3 runs), and Jeremy Nichols(2 steals, 5 rbis) all had three hits. Nick Nemanich hit a towering home run that hit about 90% up the tree behind the scoreboard in left. Coach Tibbs called this shot and there were witnesses. Pandamonia broke loose and Nicky took a beating from the boys. Alex was so excited, he decided to go for a piggy back ride on Nick's back. After five minutes it got awkward and Nick asked him to get down. Nemanich also scored three and drove in three with his two hits. Vin Purpura also had two hits to maintain his hot pace this season. Dylan Loftis got the win and also drove in a run and scored two. This victory propelled the season tally to 16-6. The defense was a smidge sloppy again in the middle innings. Here's hoping it shores up as the season progresses.
Notes and Quotes: Troy's fields seem to improve year after year-kudos to the groundskeepers.
Team Sharp scored runs against pitchers that seemed to pitch well as it was a good night for the offense.
Next up: Play Before Mommy Day Event vs Jacksonville, Orland Magic, and Lockport Vipers.
Tournament: Rockford USSSA May Day Classic WS Qualifier
All Tournament Team
Jaime Argueta - Aurora Starz Red
Logan Love - Aurora Starz Red
Drew Wagner - Aurora Starz Red
Nick Nemanich - Team Sharp
Collin Gibson - Team Sharp
Chase Kendall - Milwaukee Angels
Ben Swords - Freeport Stix
Michael Berentes - Freeport Stix
All Tournament: Nick Nemanich & Collin Gibson
Hitter of the Tournament: Matt Callaghan, Nick Nemanich and Luke DeBenedetti
Pitcher of the Tournament: The entire TSU pitching staff
Defender of the Touranment: The TSU middle infield for a couple SHARP double plays.
Game 21 Aurora Starzz 9 Team Sharp 6 (Championship)
After cruising through pool play and overpowering the boys from Wisconsin in the semifinals, Team Sharp was feeling confident going into their rematch with the Aurora Starz. When it was all said an done, Aurora coaching staff sent a nice fruit basket as a parting gift to the Wisconsin team and the 25mph pitching Team Sharp saw in the semifinal which would ultimately have alot to do with the Championship game outcome. With the TSU offense humming and pitching depth showing its value, everything was well aligned and fell according to plan for the big finale. Tim Schneider got the call to face a tough lineup. He was well rested as a result of big performances from the whole pitching staff in earlier games. In the top of the first, he gave up an unearned run after a misplayed fly ball and a two out rbi single. A young man named Argueta took the mound in the bottom of the first for the Starz. He was lean and mean and possessed a live young arm. In most tournaments with real rules, he would have been out of innings, but this particular tourney there were no pitching rules. Team Sharp hopes his arm doesn't feel the long-term effects of 9-10 innings in a 30 hour span. He operated on guts and heart and came out firing. He retired the first two Sharp hitters and gave up a walk to Schneider. Tim stole second and came around to score on an error by the catcher. The Starz added a run in the second to make it 2-1. In the bottom of three and his team still trailing by one, Matt Callaghan singled sharply to right and stole second. Luke Debenedetti sacrificed him to third. Alex Tibble ripped a shot ground ball to the first baseman who stepped on the bag and threw home to cut down Callaghan on a disputed call at the plate. It was noisy and chaotic, Coach Tadd's hat went flying, and a big group of Aurora fans enjoyed the heck out of a snuffed out rally. The Starz pushed home a run in the top of the fifth to make it 3-1. In the bottom of the fifth, TSU broke through. Argueta left prior to the start of the inning during warm up pitches with his arm dragging. Vin Purpura greeted the reliever with a single. Matt Callaghan obliterated a triple to the deep right center field gap to make it 3-2. Luke D. came through with an rbi single to tie the game at 3. The red hot Collin Gibson faced the Starz in the top of the 6th. The inning proved to be a disaster. A few walks, a few seeing eye hits, and a mess of a defensive showing put Sharp in a 9-3 hole going into the last half of the 6th. Credit the boys for not throwing in the towel, however. Gibson fought back by driving in a run and Vin Purpura knocked in two to make it 9-6. Unfortunately, there was no more magic and that's how it ended. The Hanes Beefy T's slipped our grasp yet another year. As the governator once said,"I'll be bock."
Notes and Quotes: For the second straight year at Rockford, the Sharpies took out the eventual champion in pool play. In 2009, we beat Wasco 7-4 in the opener. This scribe was proud that Coach Tadd didn't have to go to the whip on any of our pitchers and held them to 4-5 innings a piece for the tournament vs the philosophies of other coaches which was ride 'em hard and put them away wet. Kudos goes out to Aurora's Argueta and Love who gave it every ounce they had on the mound all weekend. Nice to see them rewarded with an alltournament selection.
Game 20 Team Sharp 13 Milwaukee Angels 3
Team Sharp received the #1 in the final four and faced off against the Milwaukee Angels in one semifinal. The Aurora Starz drew the Freeport Stix as their opponent on the other side. With the offense rolling to the tune of 33 runs the first three games and Nick Nemanich making a strong bid to have his likeness erected in marble looking out over Rt. 30 and Theodore near the Field of Screams, the Sharpies had high hopes of taking down their second tourney title. The Angels came off a thrilling win over Lake in the Hills where trail 7-3 and then batted for approximately 63 minutes and won by 30(or something like that) to qualify for the semis. Dylan Loftis got the call to slow down the boys from Wisconsin. He did just that by giving up one run and two hits over four innings. Whatever momentum the Angels had coming in was stopped cold by numerous easy ground balls as a result of Loftis' pitch variety and location. The Angels began the game with some depleted pitching exhausted to get to the semis, Sharp scored three in the first on a walk by Luke Debenedeti, single by Alex Tibble, rbi single by Tim Schneider, and two run triple by Nicky "Boom Boom Pow" Nemanich. Words can't describe how hot #14 is right now even though I bought a thesaurus and checked and there were none. A quick 3-0 lead after the first. In the second, Matt Callaghan scorched a deep drive about five feet inside the right field line and beyond the right fielder. It kicked heavily to the right rolled forever. "Happy" scampered all the way around for his first Team Sharp home run which set off some pandamonia upon his arrival at home plate. That kid has talent in that body-he just doesn't know it yet. 4-0 lead after two. In the third, singles by Nemanich and Collin Gibson led to a two run single by Vin Purpura and a run scoring single by Jeremy Nichols. 7-1 after 3. Nichols entered to pitch the top of the fifth and was knicked for two runs to make it 7-3. In the sixth, TSU batted around and put up six more runs on five singles, two walks, and a hbp.
The slaughter rule suddenly kicked in and it sent the Angels on a one way trip back to Milwaukee. The good kids earned the right to play Aurora(who hammered Freeport) again for the title.
Notes and Quotes: TSU moved to 15-5 on the young season and if Team Sharp wins in the final, it will be more first place finishes than all of last year. Thanks to every pitcher that has been called on this weekend doing their jobs, the pitching for the championship game will be fresh. None of TSU's young arms have been taxed at all this year thanks to the staff's depth, efficient pitch counts and explosive offense. Six pitchers so far this year have proven themselves as more than reliable. We might even have more, but haven't got the chance to showcase much after that six pack. Great job guys and keep throwing strike one to start off at bats.
Game 19 Team Sharp 13 Aurora Starzz 3
Thanks to the internet, Team Sharp found out early Sunday that a tough Champaign team would not even make it out of pool play. The Aurora Starz Red beat them 9-4 to push the Tribe to 0-2. Sharp would face the Starz in the final pool play game at 9am Sunday to determine who would earn the top seed among the final four. Teams from Freeport, Milwaukee, Aurora, and Lake in the Hills would battle for the other two spots. First things first, a good performance was needed in the pool play finale against a rugged, UNDEFEATED team from Aurora (12-0). Sharp continued the trend of coming out quickly by getting three in the first against a solid Starz pitcher. Singles by Luke Debenedetti and Alex Tibble, a walk by Tim Schneider, and a two rbi double by Nick Nemanich got TSU off to a hot start. Alex Tibble had the task of holding down a solid offensive lineup in the bottom of the first. A leadoff double and error had Tibble on the ropes with no one out. A slick 4-6-3 double play by initiated by Collin Gibson to Lukey D. and then to a full splits formation from Vinny Purpura plus a strikeout on a well placed changeup to a big, mean looking cleanup hitter kept the score 3-0. In the bottom of the second, Tibble gave up a leadoff single and subsequent towering two run home run. He kept it together and retired the next three hitters to hold a 3-2 lead. A Lukey walk, Schneids rbi single, Nemanich rbi double, and Jeremy Nichols sac fly in the top of the third extended the lead to 6-2. The Starz scratched a run in the fourth to cut the lead to three. The Sharpies countered with two of their own in the fifth when Nick was hit by a pitch, Collin doubled him in, and with Coach Tadd playing small ball Purpura safety squeezed Gibson home to push the lead to 8-2. In the top of 6, the good guys added five to round out a 13-3 beating. Nick "the hammer" Nemanich vaporized an inside fastball @260 feet down the left field line to triple in Debenedetti and Schneider. Gibson doubled in Nemanich, Dylan Loftis singled, and Jeremy Nichols singled in two to round out the scoring. Nichols struck out the side to end it. Another solid team effort in the books and hopefully more hardware to cart south on I-39 later in the afternoon.
Notes and Quotes: Leadoff hitter Luke D. has now reached base ten times in a row with three walks and a single. If I fought the Starz' four hitter ten times, he'd win seven. And the other three i'd run to my mommy. He was a big boy. This scribe gets the feeling that the Starz didn't unveil all of their pitching options in this game. Neither did we.
Game 18 Team Sharp 13 Rockford Aces 1
In the second game of the May Day Classic, Sharp faced the Rockford Aces. After the big win against Champaign's Tribe, TSU looked to keep momentum and move to 2-0 in pool play and put the pressure on everyone else. Another fast start put the good guys in the lead 2-0 in the top of the first. Luke Debenedetti walked, Tim Schneider singled, and Nick Nemanich(sound familiar?) ripped a single to drive in two. Rockford scored an unearned run in the first off starter Debenedetti to cut the lead in half. In the second, Vin Purpura walked, John Parker singled, and Luke D. walked to load the bases. Alex Tibble walked to drive in a run. Nick Nemanich was hit by a pitch to drive in his 400th run of the year. Collin Gibson walked to make it 5-1. The Sharpies put up another run in the third and a seven spot in the fourth when twelve batters went to the plate. An rbi triple by Alex Tibble and singles by Collin Gibson, Jeremy Nichols, Vin Purpura, Matt Callaghan, and Luke Debenedetti keyed the inning. The big blast was provided by Nick Nemanich when he homered deep to left center. If TSU played every game this year at parks with fences, Nicky Nems would have eight homers already. IDOT would have to detour traffic off Theodore on game nights if Nemanich was still at St. Joe's. Please Nicky don't hurt 'em. I think that was the name of an old M.C Hammer album. The final was 13-1 in four innings. Luke D. and Jeremy Nichols combined for the win only giving up one hit.
Notes and Quotes: Will Nicky ever make another out? Huge four inning pitcher saver. Teams need these to win tournaments. Luke D. reached base four times from the leadoff spot.
Next up: Aurora Starz to wrap up pool play 9am Sunday.
Game 17 Team Sharp 7 Champaign Tribe 6
Following a big I-80 comeback win Thursday night, Team Sharp finally started to feel like a team that believed in each other. Facing a tough first game in pool play against an old nemisis the Champaign Tribe at the Rockford May Day Classic, they would need all the confidence and effort a team could muster. The Tribe came with an impressive 14-1 record losing only a title game in Indiana vs. a talented squad from Indy. They also held the upper hand by knocking out TSU (who was 3-0 at the time) in the semis in the 2009 Rockford May Day Classic. Sharp gained a 2-0 advantage in the first thanks to a walk and steal by Alex Tibble and back to back RBI doubles by Nick Nemanich and Collin Gibson. Gibson took the hill in the bottom of the inning and sent a dangerous 1-2-3 combo down in order. Neither team scratched in the second. In the bottom of the third, Champaign knicked Gibson for an unearned run to make it 2-1. Tim Schneider started the top of 4 by reaching on an error by the Tribe's second baseman. Nick Nemanich doubled him home to make it 3-1. Gibson followed with a walk and Dylan Loftis singled to load the bases. Jeremy Nichols came through with a FC rbi to make it 4-1. Vin Purpura walked to load them again, but a strikeout and flyout to center ended the threat. The Tribe fired back strong in their half of 4 with 3 runs to tie it at four going into the top of the 5th. Coach Tadd opened up the small ball book in the fifth. Luke Debenedetti singled and stole second. Alex Tibble sacrificed him to third, and Tim Schneider delivered a run scoring single to make it 5-4. With a save opportunity at hand, Debo came in in the fifth throwing hard and retired Champaign with no damage done. Rbi's by Matt Callaghan and Debo knocking in Loftis and Purpura in the top of the sixth proved to be important insurance runs. After retiring the first two hitters in the sixth, Luke D. gave up a triple and home run that were scorched to put it mildly. Instead of losing his cool, he smartly planted a backwards K on the next hitter to nail down an important win over a quality opponent in the opener. This was a big win over probably the second or third best team we've seen this year. Will this set the stage for a rematch in the finals???
Notes and Quotes: Gibson baffled more than a few hitters with his three pitches-allowing only two earned runs in four innings for a very good outing against a VERY good hitting team.
Matt "Happy" Callaghan had a another double and continued his mission to head North in the lineup. Reminder to give the scorekeeper a 50 spot and enjoy your new home batting cleanup.
"Papa" Nichols made two nice catches in left in the second on balls that were hit hard.
Assistant coach RL Tibble was banned from ever again transporting wiffles and leagues to a tournament opener as he staggered in 17 minutes late. He swore the war wagon's top speed was 49, did a set of 25 six-count burpees, and promised TSU this was his last screw up. Next Up: Rockford Aces who last 2-0 to the Aurora Starzz in G1.
Game 16 Team Sharp 19 Southwest Thunder 10
In a mid-week I-80 tilt where 2 players were missing as a result of having to display their musical talents at school programs, the Team Sharp NIFTY 9 went the work undermanned. As parents, coaches and players wondered if the April wind will never let up, TSU invaded Lemont. From a high perch near Big Run Golf Course, Team Sharp fought stiff 25-35 mph breezes and a tough opponent in the Southwest Thunder. The Thunder came in to the game 2-1 in the I-80 and one up on the Sharpies as a result of a 4-1 victory last year in the tournament by Corn Products. If they only made a candle in that scent. Team Sharp wanted some payback and scored six in the first two innings on walks issued to Luke Debenedetti, Alex Tibble and Vin Purpura and hits by Alex Tibble, Dylan Loftis, and Tim Schneider. Only one problem-the Thunder scored nine on seven hits. Coach Gibson had to roll out to tend to the family dog and see Collin's Thespian debut heading into the top of the third down 9-6. Before his Lambo left the lot, his cracked staff got two runners picked off at first and another thrown out at the plate. When your 6-9 hitters go walk, walk, single, double, you think huge inning - not this time. Three outs on the bases - are you kidding me? Brutal. Double L and Drake almost stormed the dugout in a hostile takeover attempt, but we were able to hold them back with back with pretzel bread and four day old chebatas. Thank heavens for the steady hand of Timmy Schneids, who came in and held the hot hitting hosts to one run in three innings to set up the greatest siege in TSU's young existence. In the top of the sixth, down 10-6, the boys in the black hitting jerseys blew up. Vinny-bunt single, Jer-single, Cal-single, Luke-bunt single, Alex-single, Tim-sac fly, Nick-reached on dropped third, Dylan-single, Brad-bunt single, Vin-walk, Jer-single, Matt-walk, Luke single, Alex FC rbi, Tim-triple, Nick-single. Southwest's coach pulled the Thunder off the field. 19-10 was the final. Sharp moved to 11-5 and 1-2 in the I-80. The boys should be very proud of their effort. They fought back when all looked lost and the team seemed flat. They also saved their assistant coaches from the unemployment line.
Notes and Quotes: The Thunder didn't seem like the type of team that routinely gives up 19 runs. Luke D. made a spectacular play behind short on a looper toward left. Tim made a heads up cover of second base on a ball that dropped perfectly between four fielders in short center. The man on first was forced out on a play where no one was there to cover if Tim didn't hustle. Every player on the team reached base at least twice. These last few sentences made the call to Coach Tadd with an update much easier. The word of the day was --> UNCLE.
Next up: Rockford May Day Classic May 1-2.
Game 15 Plainfield Diamondkings 12 Team Sharp 4
In a much anticipated matchup of local rivalries, Team Sharp strangely enough hosted the DKings on their home field. For most of the players, this classic series dates back to the epic battle in the 2007 8U Illinois Pinto World Series Title Game. The DKings have had the upper hand the past 2 years, but this time local legendary Head Coach, Player Personnel Director and GM Joe Cresta would be out of town tending to personal matters so Coach Tadd thought their was an opportunity for an upset without their commander at the helm. This battle would begin on an absolutely freezing, windy late April day on a dandelion infested prairie known as Plainfield. This DKings team is one of the most feared outfits in the I-80 League and preseaon favorite. They have won national tournaments, have improved year to year and continue to be very well coached. In the top of the first, a Luke Debenedetti single and Alex Tibble sac bunt were wasted as Dkings starter Alex Gerner buckled down and retired the next two hitters. The Kings picked up a run in their portion of the first when Rocky Pascente singled, stole second, advanced to third and was driven in on a sac fly by Patrick Slattery. After Team Sharp University failed to tally in the second, the Diamondkings picked up four more in the bottom. a few seeing eye base hits (bad hop single, an field dribbler and a questionnable error) mixed in with a few well struck ones put Plainfield on top 5-0. Neither team could muster offense in the third. In the top of the fourth, after two were out, Alex Tibble singled and stole second. Tim Schneider walked. They both advanced on a wild pitch. Nick Nemanich continued his clutch hitting by knocking in both of them with a two out single ripped to left. The hosts notched a unearned run in the fourth to make it 6-2. TSU came back with two in the fifth when Dylan Loftis and Vin Purpura walked. They advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. John Parker chopped an rbi single high off the plate to make it 6-3. Matt Callaghan was called out on an infield fly play two batters later, but on the botched catch out near second, Purpura skated home to make it 6-4. Collin Gibson sent the home team down without scoring in both the 5th and 6th innings. In the top of the sixth with the tide seemingly turning-Alex Tibble drew a leadoff walk. He was thrown out on his steal attempt two pitches later which officially removed umpire Fred from Coach Gibson's christmas card list. It appeared the tag was completely missed, but the ump has final say and momentum followed Elvis right out of the building. After holding the top five hitters from the Kings to 1 for 14 in the first six innnings, Sharp made 2 errors, allowed four walks plus a couple of hits to allow the DKings and comfortable six spot in the seventh and to complete the scoring at 12-4. The game felt closer than that, but an eight run beating it was none the less. The Sharpies fell to 10-5 and 0-2 in the I-80.
Notes and Quotes: Tremendous umpiring behind the plate which made Coach Tadd happy. Sharp was 0 for 3 in close calls on the bases from Uncle Fred. Alex Gerner pitched tremendously for Plainfield as it didn't appear he ever missed his spot. Very nice command out there from one of the most respected pitchers around. When you muster only four hits for the game, being on the losing end shouldn't be a surprise.
Collin Gibson had an impressive performance giving up only one run(unearned) in innings 4-6 to help turn the tide and keep it close. Much improved mound presence in '10. A shout out to the Garrity family and quick healing to the bloody little guy behind the backstop. Hope he is doing OK.
Upcoming opponents: SW Thunder(I-80), Champaign Tribe, Rockford Stars, and Aurora Red(Rockford May Day Classic).
Game 14 Team Sharp 8 Victory Gold 6
Following a successful run in West Chicago over the weekend, it was time to get back to business and face up an always tough Jon Mulder-led Victory Gold team at Inwood in Joliet. This game would pit the former St. Joe's coaching allegiance and brain trust against one another with both teams knowing each others strategies and philosophies inside and out. It was opening day for the Victory organization, there were multiple teams, a ceremony, a guest conductor for our national anthem, and Robbie Knievel ripped off a motorcycle jump over the whole complex from Mcdonough all the way to Traditions. Kidding of course about the last part. There was, however, the pomp and circumstance of a much anticipated early season showdown. Sharp took a beating from Victory last year at their opener. Team Sharp came out ready in the visitors half, scoring three runs on a Luke Debendetti double, an error, walks to Tim Schneider and Nick Nemanich and rbi groundouts by Collin Gibson and Dylan Loftis. Loftis brought in his spiffy 2.47 ERA and took the hill in the bottom of the first. He breezed through only giving up a high fastball tomahawk single off the bat of ex-teammate Madi Mulder. Her hands are still as lightning quick as the old St. Joe's days. After a scoreless second and top half of the 3rd, Victory came back. Two quick outs were followed by a single, walk, error, bases loaded walk, and two rbi single. Just like that, 3-3. In the top of the fourth Sharp countered with three straight singles by Nemanich, Gibson, and Loftis to load the bases. Brad Roberts battled for a hard single to right to knock in two. Vin Purpura walked and two batters later Jeremy Nichols connected for a two rbi single. After Victory notched two in the bottom of the inning, the score stood at 7-5. In the top of the 6th, Alex Tibble walked, stole second, and advanced to third on a sac fly to center by Tim Schneider. Nick Nemanich promptly singled Tibble home to make it 8-5. Gold would tally one more in the fifth and Luke Debenedetti came out in the seventh to rack up his first save of the year. Team Sharp left a number of Sharpies on base, lined into 2 double plays and hit 3 rockets to the outfield with men on bases which were caught by ready and alert Victory defenders. Team Sharp left feeling both disappointed they didn't capitalize and score 15 and thankful to escape with a hard fought 8-6 win. Team Sharp sent their record to 10-4 for the season. Loftis picked up the win with help from Tim "silence is golden" Schneider, who went three steady innings giving up only three runs while overcoming some shaky D. Luke D. had three hits and Nick Nemanich went 2 for 2.
Notes and quotes: The boys were shocked when called out for the 7th inning for the first time this year. Shocked because it was 18 degrees with the wind chill and no one wanted to come out from under the blankets
Special thanks to Sharp/Sox fan and Joliet legend Dick Shaw for asking me about how I felt about Zambrano's new job as set up man. The thought of my favorite team owning an 18 million dollar a year set up man sent the blood pressure north. Go Cubbies. Next time one of our guys pops off and speaks up in the dugout about "going all Happy Gilmore" on an opposing pitcher and strikes out twice-faces 50 laps around the field.
Upcoming games vs the mighty and #1 in the State ranked Plainfield Diamondkings plus an I80 showdown with the SW Thunder
West Chicago Tournament Awards:
Hitters of the tournament: Nick Nemanich-7 for 10, 11 rbis, 2 3b, 2b, 7 runs, Alex Tibble-8 for 12, 11 runs, 12 sb's & Dylan Loftis-6 for 10, 8 rbis, 2 3b, 2 2b
Pitcher of the tournament: Dylan Loftis & Tim Schneider shutout gem in G1 Collin who set us straight and dominated in the Final Game to bring home the trophy.
Defender of the Tournament: Coach Tadd's lawyer after he loses it on someone for our continued shoddy defensive play. We aren't playing Team Sharp baseball in that facet of the game.
http://www.gamedayusa.com/Baseball Results 2010/West Chicago Pre-Season Champ/11U-C.jpg
Game 13 Team Sharp 8 McHenry County Outlaws 4
After two games in which the offense couldn't be stopped, Sharp headed into the 3pm title game with alot of momentum. In the bathroom before the game, an opposing parent was overheard on the phone saying, "yes, we made it to the finals but we're going to take second because we play Team Sharp again" or something to that effect. Big respect for a Team Sharp squad who last held up trophies at the 2009 Lockport Tournament opener. The question that lingered for TSU fans is would the hit parade continue or would it be another in a long line of 2009 near misses on Championship Sunday for Team Sharp?
Collin Gibson would be the starter and had been rested all tournament for this ocassion. The last two tournaments have seen him pitch well with a penchant for escaping trouble with pick offs and big pitches at the right times. With a rested arm and no innings yet logged for the tourney, the stars were aligned for a good finish for C.G. and TSU. Gibson held McHenry scoreless in the visitors half of the first. The good guys came out flying in the first again. A walk by Luke Debenedetti followed by a balk, wild pitch, and error on the pitcher made the score 1-0 quickly. Alex Tibble continued his torrid weekend with a single and sb. After a groundout, Nick Nemanich reached on an error and stole second. With runners at 2nd and 3rd, Gibson helped his own cause by getting down a good suicide squeeze bunt to drive in Tibble. It seems Coach Gibson was playing it safe early in case 20 runs weren't in the cards in this final game. An error by the shortstop on a ball hit by Dylan Loftis made the score 3-0 at the end of one. Neither team scratched in the second. A few walks and some shaky defense in the visitors half of the third helped cut the Sharp lead to 3-1. With one out in the bottom of 3, Luke D. singled and stole second and third. Tibble hit a hard grounder that the 2b booted, driving in a run and putting on another runner. Tibble stole second and was tripled home by white hot clean up hitter Nemanich. He scored on an error to push it to 6-1. Singles by Matt Callaghan, Tibble, Tim Schneider, and Collin Gibson in the fifth ran the lead to 8-2. After some drama in the sixth, Tibble nailed down an 8-4 title game win for Sharp. Gibson went four very strong giving up two runs on only two hits and striking out a number of hitters. John Parker had two hits and two steals. The championship drought is over and our mug shot picture is up on the Game Day USA website. The man in the bathroom must have had ESP (not to be confused with Oswego ESP training center).
Notes and Quotes: Reminder to Team Sharp defense-hard work in practice leads to good results in games. Lazy work in practice leads to the exact opposite.
The outfield alignment for the Outlaws against our hitters was something to see. It looked like a defense normally reserved for 13 year old hitters.
Upcoming games vs Victory Gold and Plainfield Diamondkings
Game 12 Team Sharp 18 Illinois Celtics 10
After the early morning offensive outbreak, Team Sharp faced the Celtics from New Lenox in the 1 seed vs. 4 seed semi-final. Alex Tibble was the starter and gave up four runs in the first after a series of ground balls seemed to have eyes and continually sneak through the infield. On a different day, this would be worrisome, but Coach Tadd had visions of another 20 run onslaught. The top seeded Sharpies countered with an 8 spot in the bottom of the first. Vin Purpura and Matt Callaghan doubled. Alex Tibble, Nick Nemanich, Collin Gibson, Dylan Loftis, Brad Roberts, and John Parker singled. With a four run cushion, "Tibbs" settled down for a 1-2-3 second innning. In the bottom of the second, Sharp added six more. Three errors and three walks from the Celtics added up to opportunities galore for the already hot Team Sharp. Brad Roberts had a big 2 rbi single to highlight the inning. Count that among the growing number of clutch hits by the young Mr. Roberts already has this season. In the third, the good guys added four more to make it 18-5. With the game well in hand, the Celtics didn't quit and added five more before it was over. The final score was 18-10 in 4 1/2 innings. Luke Debenedetti, Jeremy Nichols, Matt Callaghan, and Nick Nemanich combined for the final three innings of mound work. Alex Tibble(3 sb 3 runs), and Brad Roberts(2rbi, 2sb, 2runs) had two hits for the winners. A rematch with McHenry County in the finals was set. TSU will carry a respectable 8-4 record into the final.
Notes and Quotes: Run scoring serves as good cover up for blemishes in other areas. Read: our defense needs to be better.
Game 11 Team Sharp 21 McHenry County Outlaws 9
On Sunday April 18, 2010 that rumble you heard from late morning all the way to late afternoon wasn't the Icelandic volcano, it was aluminum thunder was the continuous banging from TSU's hot bats. It all started in the pool play finale vs. the McHenry County Outlaws at 9am. The game began quietly enough when Sharp scratched out a run in the top of the first on doubles by Alex Tibble and Nick Nemanich. The Outlaws countered with three runs on two hits and some porous defense in the bottom of the frame. Down 3-1 and heading to the top of the second it was time to hide the women and children. For the sake of protecting the innocent and avoiding a carpal tunnel flare up, I'll keep it brief. Loftis-long triple, Roberts-rbi double, Nichols-single, Parker-walk, Purpura-hbp rbi, Callaghan-two rbi single, Debenedetti-walk, Tibble-hbp, Schneider-walk, Nemanich-bases clearing laser beam triple, Gibson-rbi single, Loftis(again?)-rbi double, Roberts-single, Nichols-rbi single, Parker-rbi single. Twelve runs and 10 hits later, Sharp led 13-3 and cruised to a 21-9 win. Luke Debenedetti picked up the win with help from Jeremy Nichols closing things down on the mound. For the game, Nemanich ended up 4 for 4 with a triple, double, and seven rbis. Loftis raked two triples, a double, and drove in three. Tibble(4 runs, double), Gibson(rbi), Roberts(double, rbi, 3 runs), and Nichols(rbi) all had two hits. Sharp moved to 7-4 on the year, finished 3-0 in pool play and set the stage for a semifinal tilt with the Illinois(New Lenox) Celtics.
Notes and Quotes: You can't put into words how hard Nicky Nems hits the ball at the tender age of 11. He is beastly and I truly worry(kidding aside) about opposing pitchers who face him. Luke D. and Jeremy Nichols pitched well to help line up the rotation for final four.
Vin Purpurra had a 200 ft. flyout to left because the left fielder forgot to move in after Nick and Dyl sent him chasing multiple shots.
No team scores 20 regularly, but here's hoping this one helps Sharp believe they're good and can play head up with most teams.
Game 10 Team Sharp 7 Western Springs Crush 0
Game 9 Team Sharp 7 Hamblin Park Lions 0
Heading into the West Chicago Tournament, Team Sharp had a slight problem losing 3 straight tough games out at Ho Chunk and the tournament schedule dealt TSU a hand of five games in a 23 hour period. How to juggle a successful deep tournament run and not have any early season sore arm issues would be a tough puzzle to solve. Shortly before the start of the first game, The Western Springs Crush had conflicting obligations and had to forfeit game 2 on Saturday solving part of the problem. The Hamlin Park Lions from Chicago would be the first opponent and came in riding high. They were coming off of a 12-0 no hit victory over Schaumburg Orange. As per usual, Team Sharp claimed the visitor's slot and went to work. They promptly manufactured a run in the first when Alex Tibble singled and stole second and third. Tim Schneider got the job done driving in Tibble with a groundout to short for an early 1-0 lead. John Parker set the defensive tone early by making two nice plays at third in the bottom of the frame to help starter Dylan Loftis. Of course all world first basemen Vinnie Purpura snared one of Parker's throws and made a nice tag of the runner. In the second, Loftis helped his own cause by drawing a walk, stealing a base, and eventually scoring on a wild pitch to make it 2-0. After another easy inning for Loftis in the home half of the second, Sharp went back to it in the third. Luke Debenedetti walked and stole second. Alex Tibble drove him in with a single. After Tibble moved around to third on a steal and wild pitch, Tim Schneider walked and attempted the steal of second immediately. Tibble was thrown out on the double steal attempt. After a groundout, it looked like this threat was put out. Collin Gibson walked and Loftis bombed a two run double to left center. Brad Roberts knocked him in with a first pitch double of his own to make it 6-0 and break the game wide open. It didn't appear Roberts was even set in the batters' box yet, but that is how he rolls. Nick Nemanich then drove in Tim Schneder in the fifth to close out the scoring. Loftis and Schneider pitched three strong innings each giving up a total of two hits. They each struck out four. Jeremy Nichols threw out another runner and Gibson/Debenedetti/Purpura combination turned a nifty 4-6-3 double play. A solid TEAM EFFORT of pitching, defense, and hitting added up to a 7-0 win and a 2-0 record going into Sunday's action. Sharp is now 6-4 and hopefully on a roll coming out of spring training.
News and Notes: With the forfeit TSU only used 6 innings of pitching on Day 1.
Ho Chunk Tourney Awards:
Hitter of the Tourney: Tim Schneider 5 for 8 w/double, 4 rbis, 2sb, 2runs
Co-Pitchers of the Tourney: Collin Gibson for knocking down the win vs. Giants and getting us started on the right foot. Dylan Loftis also pitched extremely well with no run support.
Defender of the Tourney: Alex Tibble made numerous catches in center vs L.C. late in the game to keep the semi interesting on top of his great defense and arm behind the dish.
Game 8 Lake Central Indiana 10 Team Sharp 9 (7 innings)
Lou Collier baseball enjoyed an overflow crowd for their game against the Dyer Thunder. Team Sharp players, coaches, and family cheered loudly as they won an exciting 5-4 8 inning game. This gave the boys the tiebreaker and backed us into the visitors dugout for a semifinal game against Lake Central out of Indiana. Lake Central got the ball rolling with three runs in the bottom of the first. In the top of the second, Nick Nemanich walked and Collin Gibson followed with a double. After two strikeouts dealt by Central's big lefty, Jeremy Nichols nailed a clutch two out single to make it 3-2. Unfortunately, Lake Central rallied for five more in the 3rd to make it 8-2. Not a good start after the fortunate bid into the semis. In the top of the 4th, Team Sharp fought back. Luke Debenedetti singled and Alex Tibble laid down a perfect bunt down the 3rd base line to put runners on first and third. Luke D. scored on a balk and Tim Schneider drove in Alex with a single. Nick Nemanich singled and stole second. Collin Gibson walked to fill the bases. A force out at the plate put the rally at one out and bases loaded. Brad Roberts continued his knack for driving in runs with an rbi single. A strikeout followed. Two outs and Vinny Purpurra smacked a 2 rbi single to make it 8-7. Matt Callaghan came to the plate and drilled a shot single to right to tie it at eight. Sharp pushed ahead 9-8 in the top of the 5th when Tim Schneider doubled and Collin Gibson singled him in. L.C. tied it at 9 on an rbi double in their half of the 5th. A scoreless 6th put the game into extras where (playing tiebreaker rules) Central scored in the bottom of the 7th to lock down a 10-9 win and a spot in the finals against Collier who beat Sportsworx 2-1 in the other semi. Collier won the tournament later that afternoon with a 3-1 victory over LC. Although some fight was on display, the Sharpies dropped to 4-4 and 1-3 in the tourney.
Notes and Quotes: The top 4 teams were separated by a run or two per game. Sportsworx, LC and Team Sharp all lost tough games to Collier. Team Sharp blew out the Giants who the others struggled to get by. The TSU three losses were at the hands of the top three finishers at the tournament. You just never know with 11 year olds.
Matt Callaghan continues to look more and more dangerous at the plate.
The 9 runs produced against L.C. came against very good pitching-a big lefty and a crafty, smart right hander.
Upcoming tilts include Hamlin Park, McHenry County, and Western Springs in the West Chicago tournament on 4/17 and 4/18.
Game 7 - Sportsworx 10 Team Sharp 0
Team Sharp's coaching staff showed up very excited about their chance to play the 2009 Class of the I80 League and top CABA World Series finisher Sportsworx (IN). With a new season underway and usual offseason changes within the travel baseball community, Team Sharp was confident based on their early season play. Unfortunately, the 10am meeting with Sportsworx found most of the TSU players asleep. Sportsworx posted a might 70 win season last year with numerous tournament wins and they took full advantage of TSU miscues. Starting pitcher Alex Tibble took the mound and completely baffled the first hitter with change of speed, striking him out on four pitches, but unfortunately he reached base on a drop third strike and it did not get better from there. TSU proceeded to commit a tean record eight errors in the first two innings and fell behind 10-0 before Coach Tadd could finish his morning donut and mountain dew. This 3 inning decison was tough to stomach, but a good lesson in early morning preparation and energy. The highlights included Dylan Loftis and Jeremy Nichols drawing walks and Matt Callaghan being hit by a pitch. No joke although TSU didn't strike out at all. After a disappointing 1-2 in pool play, TSU was forced to wait around and hope like heck that the Lou Collier Allstars could beat the Dyer Thunder and score at least five runs to allow TSU to back into the fourth position and a rebirth back into the tournament in the semifinals.
Notes and Quotes: Please know, it is no fun rooting for another team to help you limp into the semis. Let's hope this is the low point of the season as far as performance goes and its one of the few bad ones over the last 4 years. Eight errors-no hits-no spunk - Can you say 5 hour energy drink required?
This was the type of game where Coach Tadd's post game chat has to be held way down in the leftfield corner away from public ears. It doesn't happen often, but Oh yeah that's right, today it was.
Game 6 - Lou Collier Allstars 3 Team Sharp 0
Following a very nice performance against the Giants, Sharp faced a quick turnaround and immediate opposition from Lou Collier's Stars. Sweet Lou Collier played college ball at Triton in River Grove and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates before having a nice eight year run in the big leagues with several different teams. Unfortunately, Team Sharp enjoyed some cheese fries and other high cholesterol/low nutrition goodies between games and promptly went 1-2-3 in the top of the first. Dylan Loftis was the starter and came out dealing. He struck out the first man looking and gave up two singles. With one out, Loftis rallied to strike out the final two batters of the inning. In the top of the second, a walk by Nick Nemanich, a single by Collin Gibson, and an error loaded the bases. The Stars struck down the rally with a backwards K and a nifty 4-6-3 double play which ended up being a preview to the first shutout of the year. The score remained knotted at 0 until the Stars' nine hitter hit a home run to deep center field and the 10 hitter reached on a subsequent HBP and came around to score to make it 2-0. In the top of the fourth, Tim Schneider singled and stole second. With Nemanich at the plate, Tim looked to advance on a passed ball and the Stars' catcher found the perfect carom off the wooden base of the fence and threw out Schneider at third. Nemanich rocketed the next pitch into the RF gap for a long single. Mama said there'd be days like this and there were no break going Team Sharp's way in G2. Sharp failed to push Nemanich across and the score stayed 2-0. In the bottom of the 4th, another leadoff HBP led to a run and put Collier up 3-0. In the 5th and 6th, Sharp faced Lou's version of Marmol/Jenks(whichever you prefer) and had trouble with him mounting any type of rally. Three K's and three weakly hit balls later, the curly haired fire-baller rang up the save and this one was in the books as a 3-0 was the final. TSU fell to 4-2 on the year and 1-1 in the Ho Chunk.
Notes and Quotes: Loftis pitched well and kept the ball down and in the ballpark minus 1 pitch. When he had to leave the game after the third, Collier's first base coach was quoted as saying "glad to see him go."
Tim Schneider was steady out of the pen-coming in out of left field on short notice and battling through through the last 3 innings. Loftis picked off a runner and Jeremy Nichols gunned down another would be stealer. Overall-a well played game by both teams and one that clocked in at about 54 minutes.
One man's observation: Not much shame in losing to the Stars (eventual tournament champions). They'll have more than just a few more wins this season. Their closer will prove to be one of the top couple pitchers TSU will face all year. Chief talent scout Tadd Gibson will have his on eye that 11U standout.
Game 5 Team Sharp 10 Chicago All Area Giants 1
On Saturday and Sunday April 10-11, Team Sharp headed to the Indiana border to face some good competition at the Ho Chunk Tournament. Coming off a 3-1 start and a third place finish in Jacksonville, Team Sharp looked to get off to a fast start that eluded them down south. It was a sunny 74 degrees for game one of the tourney against a good bunch of athletes from the All Area Giants who had just pushed the mighty Sportsworx Team to the brink before losing 5-4. In the top of the first, T.S.U came out gunning. Luke Debenedetti walked and Alex Tibble singled sharply to left to start the inning. Tim Schneider singled them in to make it 2-0. Nick Nemanich was plunked to put two runners on with no one out. Two quick outs later, Johnny Parker drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Brad Roberts strode to the plate, adjusted that helmet, worked the giants pitcher to a full count, and promptly smacked a 2-run single. Parker scored on an error to make it 5-0. With a comfy lead, Collin Gibson took the mound in the bottom of the first and struckout two and picked off a runner sleeping at third. In the top of the 2nd, Sharp added a run when Alex Tibble drove in Matt Callaghan, who walked earlier. Gibson shut the door for two more innings and picked off another runner at second. Vinny Purpurra and Callaghan singled to start the fourth and Jeremy Nichols smoked a double into the gap for two rbis. After Lukey coaxed a walk, Tibble and Schneider followed with run scoring singles to make it 10-0. The Giants scored a run in the bottom of the fourth, but the mercy rule ended the game at 10-1. It was a good effort against a team that ended up playing well in the tournament. Sharp pushed their record to 4-1.
Notes and Quotes: Vin Purpura continued his annual fast start reaching base twice and improving his BA to .727. Pesky lead off hitter Luke Debenedetti walked three times to set the table for the offense. Walking as it turns out, isn't only for the mailman. Good eye Mr. DeBenedetti.
Collin Gibson continued to show his craftiness and a knack for working out of trouble-picking off two runners. If the lonely Blue Bunny ice cream trailer comes up missing from Ho Chunk, rule out Cassie Drive in Joliet-it couldn't possibly be there. Oouuuuuuu Team Sharp could really enjoy the contents of that trailer!!
Game 4 Practice Game (Team Sharp 13 Plainfield Raiders Silver 6)
In a local pre-season exhibition game, Team Sharp beat the Plainfield Raiders Silver 13-6 on Tuesday night. Alex Tibble, Jeremy Nichols, Brad Roberts, Luke Debenedetti, and Matt Callaghan combined for the win. Nick Nemanich blasted a long triple and a double and drove in five runs. Tibble had 2 hits, an rbi, and 3 steals. Collin Gibson doubled. Brad Roberts drove in two runs. Vin Purpura and Matt Callaghan also added hits. Sharp pushed to 3-1 on the year. Next four opponents: Lisle Wolves, All Area Giants, Lou Collier Baseball, and Sportsworx Stars.
Outstanding Tournament Hitter - Vinny Purpura & Luke DeBenedetti
Outstanding Tournament Pitcher - Collin Gibson
Outstanding Tournament Defensive - Jeremy Nichols & Alex Tibble (outstanding job throwing out runners)
Game 3 - Lenz Field (Team Sharp 14 Southwest Illinois Athletics 3)
In the Sunday finale against the Southwest Athletics, Team Sharp got it rolling early and ran away with a 14-3 win. Collin Gibson controlled the pace over four innings earning the win. Mixing in three different pitches, he struck out seven and gave up three runs. At the plate, he walked three times, stole a base, and scored two runs. Luke Debenedetti(double), Vin Purpura(3 rbi's), Brad Roberts(rbi) and Nick Nemanich(2 runs) each had two hits. Also, Jeremy Nichols blasted a double to the wall in deep left center and walked. Dylan Loftis, Tim Schneider, and Matt Callaghan also added hits.
Notes and Quotes: Luke Debenedetti wrapped up the game on the mound and made a tremendous catch out near shortstop avoiding a violent collusion to end the game. The author of this column wondered where the heck coach D disappeared to for so long. Turned out he was coaching first the whole time. After a long and enjoyable weekend, it was time to pack up the wagons and head home. Team Sharp families wondered if the Fuzzy Toad (??)watering hole had even experienced anything like Team Sharp. Team Sharp families did their best to inject a significant amount of capital into the local Jacksonville economy. Finally, never trust a security guard telling you the local pizza is TOP 10 in the nation!!!
Upcoming tilts include: 4/5 vs Raiders Silver 4/8 vs Lisle Wolves 4/10-4/11 at Ho Chunk Season Tip Off.
Game 2 - Lenz Field (Team Sharp 11 TNT Hitting 5)
With day one of the season under their belts and the butterflies sent packing, Team Sharp looked to get back on track against the TNT Hitters. The first two innings were scoreless. Dylan Loftis came out pitching well with help from his catcher Alex Tibble. Loftis had two strikeouts and Tibble picked off a runner straying from first in addition to the runner he threw out at second on a blocked ball that stayed close. In the top of the third, John Parker led off with a rocket to the fence that went for a long single and then stole second. Vin Purpura followed with an rbi single. Matt Callaghan knocked in Purpurra two batters later. Luke Debenedetti walked and stole second and Alex Tibble hit a two out shot up the middle to drive in the third and final run of the inning. Sharp tallied two more runs in the third thanks to hits by Collin Gibson, Loftis, and Purpura. With a 5-0 lead, it looked like this game was under control until TNT stormed back to tie it 5-5 in the bottom of the fourth with some favorable bounces and breaks. In the fifth, some generous defense by TNT helped the Team Sharp cause. Walks by Callaghan and Tibble, a single by Debenedetti, and an rbi groundout by Gibson helped push the score to 8-5. Singles by Jeremy Nichols, Callaghan, Debenedetti, Tibble, and Tim Schneider in the 6th led to 3 more runs and an 11-5 lead. Schneider then held down TNT over the last two innings to earn the win.
Notes and quotes: Johnny "Parks" tore the cover off the ball for a hard luck 1 for 3.
Matt Callaghan swung the bat as well as he has in his young "Paul O'Neill-esque" career.
Game 1 - Lenz Field (Southside Express 9 Team Sharp 8)
The much anticipated Team Sharp sophomore season began this past weekend at Lenz Field in Jacksonville, Illinois. Friday, April 2nd was a warm windy day that felt more like Memorial Day than April Fool's. There was a 20 mph wind blowing out over the right field fence for game one against the Southside Express. After a 3 1/2 drive and 20 quick minutes in the batting cage, 2010 was ready to kickoff. After a solid offseason, the offense seemed like a certainty going in to the game. Fresh off their preseason doubleheader with the mighty Orland Sparks, the Express came out smoking and pushed out to a 9-3 lead after three innnings. Through the first three innings, Sharp could only muster an rbi single from Wheatland Duck prize recruit Tim Schneider, an rbi double from Alex Tibble, and an Express error that allowed run number three across. Staring down a six run deficit, a redhot Southside offense, and losing head coach Tadd Gibson to a highly debatable "yer otta here!" from the first base ump, Team Sharp dug the cleats in and went to work. Tim Schneider made quite an impression by coming in to shut down the opposition over the last two innings. In the fourth, Vinny Purpura singled in two to make it 9-5. The fifth inning saw Sharp knock out three more runs to make it 9-8. Leaving the bases loaded multiple times and the having a 6th inning rally fall short, the Express prevailed by one. Sharp's chances were hurt by a few called strike threes when the bases were loaded and the fact that the new third base coach didn't know the signs(only kidding).
Game 1 notes: Text Messaging is really handy when the head coach has been asked to remove himself from the property.
There is something to be said about music playing between innings-no matter what type.
All lineup and position change requests thrown at substitute 3rd base coach(thanks Vinny and Brad) were duly noted and forwarded to the head chief.
Turf fields are incredible-our eyeballs appreciated the complete lack of flying dirt/debris and our uniforms didn't get dirty.
Unfortunately, the nightcap saw the weather turn from warm to chilly as the cold front moved in across the mighty Mississippi. The Windy City Travelers were the game 2 opposition. At game time, the heavens opened up and Hurricane Wammo rolled through. With the game pending cancellation with no makeup plan, the coaches agreed to play a few innings. The turf helped, but the game was basically turned into an exhibition worthy of a water park. TSU parents were understanding, but were relieved to call the scrimmage complete nearing 10pm and playing for about 40 minutes. Determined coaches (Coach Tadd only coached 1 inning earlier in the day) were the only reason this one didn't get called early. On to game three.....
Game 2 notes: we are all getting a little bigger moving from 10U to 11U (save for coach D who is looking slim and GOOOOOD) because it was tight in the dugouts during the rain delays.
The Team Sharp families would like to welcome Tim Schneider and his family to the 2010 Team Sharp squad.
Welcome to the home of Team Sharp Travel Baseball. Our players represent the Joliet, Lemont, Naperville, Oswego, and Plainfield communities. Our organization was formed to re-dedicate travel baseball to teaching the fundamentals of baseball without the stigma of winning at all costs. Our teams will play competitive baseball with heart, determination and class.
Sharps Sports Travel Baseball NFP dba TEAM SHARP is a registered non-profit 501c(3) charitable organization under the group umbrella of the Amateur Athletic Union. All contributions to TEAM SHARP are tax deductible under the full extent of the tax code.
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