The Riverside 10-Under Little League baseball all-star team came up just a bit short July 11 in their attempt to win a district championship. Needing the beat Western Springs just once on Sunday to win the double-elimination Little League District 9 championship, Riverside dropped a pair of the games to Western Springs.
They lost the first game 8-2 and then got nipped 10-9 in a back-and-forth, winner-take-all championship game that was mostly played in a steady rain.
“The craziest thing is the momentum in Little League,” said Riverside coach Ryan Sherman. “They came out with their best player [a pitcher] and they took it to us the first game, which we were comfortable with because we had our best pitchers in Game 2, but they just had the momentum and they got their first guy on every single inning.”
What made the defeat even tougher to take was that Riverside had clobbered Western Springs 25-10 on Friday to hand Western Springs their only loss of the tournament which was played at Veterans Park in North Riverside.
“It’s just one of those things with 10-year-old kids, it’s just like they’re either way up and they’re way down, and when they’re down it’s like every break goes against you,” Sherman said.
In the final game, Western Springs jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning against Riverside starting pitcher Gavin Sweetser. Riverside struck back with one run in the second when Tommy Martin singled to center to drive in Garrett McBurney.
But after Western Springs scored three runs in the bottom of the second to take 5-1 lead things looked as bleak as the gray sky for Riverside. But as the rain fell harder in the top of the third inning Riverside roared back, batting around and scoring five runs to grab the lead.
McBurney drove in Sweetser with the tying run and then scored the go-ahead run on an error to put Riverside ahead 6-5. But Western Springs struck back immediately scoring twice in the bottom of the third to take back the lead.
Riverside wasn’t finished and came right back with two more runs in the top of the fourth to grab the lead once again but Western Springs responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 10-8 lead.
Catcher George Kirsch hit a sacrifice fly to center field to pull Riverside within one in the top of the fifth but Riverside couldn’t score in the sixth and Western Springs took home the championship banner.
“It’s disappointing because Riverside doesn’t win many districts, but we’re still very proud of them and they’re still a ton of fun,” Sherman said.
Up until Sunday Riverside had stormed their way to the championship round, clobbering LaGrange Park 19-4 and LaGrange 20-8 before ambushing Western Springs with a 15-run first inning on July 9.
Riverside’s powerful lineup was led by shortstop Bryce Sherman who had a .645 on-base percentage and belted four doubles in the five tournament games; outfielder Brady Wahl, who drove in 10 runs in the five games and had a .609 on-base percentage; outfielder Jack Rooney, who had 12 hits and a .545 on base percentage; and first baseman/pitcher Sweetser, who scored 11 times and drove in 7 runs.
Western Springs also captured the 12-year-old division, defeating LaGrange Park in the championship game.