Through four innings, it seemed like Naperville National had Warren Park right where it wanted in the Little League Intermediate Division state title game Wednesday in Alsip.
However, Warren Park had other ideas.
Warren Park scored four runs in the fifth inning to turn a close game into a 9-2 victory and earn a spot in the Midwest Regional, which begins Saturday in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
It was the third game of the tournament between the two programs.
“It was good baseball all three games, and they came out on top,” Naperville coach Jeff Dalton said. “Obviously, we’d rather be champs. But, I’m really proud of the boys.”
Naperville’s roster was made up of 12-year-olds.
“It’s a remarkable accomplishment, what they did, because this is an all 12-year-old team playing against 13-year-olds,” Dalton said. “A state runner-up as a 12-year-old team in a 13-year-old division says a lot about these guys.”
Monday, Naperville rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh to beat Warren Park 7-6, sending the Warriors into the consolation bracket final of the double-elimination tournament. Warren Park forced a deciding game with a 9-5 win Wednesday night.
Thursday, Warren Park scored two runs in the bottom of the first on an error, double and single. In the third, Warren Park added three more runs on a pair of walks, an error, a double steal and a two singles, stretching the lead to 5-0.
Naperville National had just two hits, both off the bat of Michael Bruebach, through three innings.
Naperville finally plated a pair of runs in the fourth. Cliff Vickers singled and Garrett Ricca reached on an error, putting runners on first and third. Vickers scored on a pickoff attempt at first and Ricca scored on a single by Tommy Hayes, cutting the deficit to 5-2.
Warren Park responded with four runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a 9-2 lead it would not relinquish.
Naperville loaded the bases in the top of the sixth, but could only score one run on a two-out single by Connor Genovese.
“The kids were scrappy and showed a lot of resolve,” Dalton said. “They were in it, I’d like to think, until the last out. We had the bases loaded in the sixth and tried to make some noise with a big inning, but it just didn’t happen.”Tags: Little League state championship, Naperville Nationa