With all due respect to Dyersville, Iowa, the locale for the cinematic Field of Dreams, apparently another mystical baseball vibe has made its presence felt during the 43rd Annual Roy A. Overholt Invitational tournament held at Kiwanis Park in Brookfield.
For the Brookfield National, Lyons Township and LaGrange Park little league teams, along with seven other first-place squads invited to the tourney, the "dream" is to make a little magic of their own by emerging as 2006 champions in the tournament's storied history.
Bongiorno tosses no-hitter
Brookfield National made an auspicious tournament debut when ace pitcher T.J. Bongiorno threw a no-hitter in leading Brookfield National to a 7-0 win against LaGrange Park. Bongiorno, who will celebrate his 13th birthday this Thursday coincidentally the same night of the championship game, offered some early gifts of his own by fanning 17 LaGrange Park hitters and also praising his teammates.
"Our top of the lineup with Brett (Hoyd) and Jon (Kingzette) is pretty good, and Andy (Suzuki) our power hitter usually knocks it out of the park," Bongiorno said. "Our defense was great. We're not too familiar with our next opponent (Lyons Township), but we are focused on what we need to do to be successful."
Offensively, Andy Suzuki led the Brookfield National attack with three hits and three runs scored. Leading LaGrange Park 4-0 after four innings, Bongiorno complimented his pitching masterpiece by blasting a two-run homerun in the sixth inning. Shortstop Jon Kingzette and outfielder Jack Scott, who enjoyed outstanding efforts during the team's successful division run, anchored the defense.
LaGrange topples Stickney
Although LaGrange Park was eliminated from the tournament with the 7-0 loss, the team garnered an impressive 5-2 win in its opening round game against Stickney. David Vlcek and Grant Fosberg each drove in a run to break a 2-2 tie in the third inning. Jacob Soehlke added an RBI single scoring Mike Marciszewski to secure the 5-2 win. Jake Reynolds started on the mound and Vlcek chipped in three scoreless innings of relief.
LT edges rival Riverside
Lyons Township, known as the White Sox, imitated the winning ways of their major league namesake by defeating Riverside 8-6 in its opening round game. Mike Trefil hurled three innings of one-hit ball with five strikeouts. Kevin Carlson pitched well in relief for Lyons Township.
"Our players are excited to be in the semifinals," Lyons Township manager Jim Trefil said "They were giving high fives and jumping around. This is a great atmosphere and a beautiful field."
Against Riverside, Jimmy Adolfino led a balanced offensive charge with four singles while Marty Hasler, Trefil and Carlson combined for six hits, three walks and seven runs scored. Lyons Township exploded for six runs in the middle innings to lead 7-3.
"The kids played really well considering they have been off for about a month," added Lyons Township coach Bryan Pett. "Pitching is the key. All the teams in this tournament seem to have at least a couple of solid pitchers. It's easy to see why they did well in their respective little leagues."
This week, Lyons Township takes on Brookfield National while Berwyn and LaGrange clash in the other semifinal. The winners advance to the championship game to be played at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17 at Kiwanis Park in Brookfield.
Regardless of which team takes home this year's crown, there seems to be a consensus among players, coaches, fans and organizers alike that the Overholt tournament is truly unique.
"We try to do it the right way. When the managers realize how historical this tournament is, it filters down to the kids," said Debbie Martell, a tournament coordinator. "There really is a sense of that this year. The players are aware that if they finish in the top three spots, their team name will be placed on the champion's board. Parents bring their children to the games and talk about when they or people they know played in the tournament. There is a great tradition here that brings back great memories every year."