It may not have been the upset of the year, but on June 22 a determined Evanston Firefighters squad defeated the Lincolnwood Angels, 11-10, at James Park to win the Spring North Suburban Youth Baseball Association World Series.
With the wind blowing out, the teams combined for 21 runs and three home runs as the Firefighters swept the best of three series, two games to none.
“Now my son won’t say that we lose at the end of the season anymore,” said manager Jay Foley after the World Series win. “These are the kind of guys that you want fighting in the trenches with you. They were all pulling for each other. That’s the part that should make anyone feel really proud.
The Pony League champion Firefighters were one of four teams from Evanston in their league, which consisted of nine teams from Skokie, Evanston and Lincolnwood.
The Angels went undefeated throughout the season, including a 17-7 win over the Evanston Firefighters back on May 9.
Evanston earned the No. 1 seed in the National Division after going 9-5 during the regular season. The Firefighters made it to the World Series after an 8-7 win over Skokie Indians (Herm’s) in the semifinals on June 18.
They got off to a hot start in the World Series with a 16-4 victory in game one. Guillermo Castellanos picked up the win for Evanston, going four and two-thirds innings while striking out five.
“It feels great. We put all our effort into it and it paid off,” said Castellanos after the championship game during which he went 1-for-2, scored once and had an RBI.
For the series clincher, members of the Evanston Fire Department were at James Park to support the team. Sparked by starting pitcher Mario Villegas’ three-run homer, Evanston took a 5-1 lead after one inning. However, an Angels grand slam tied the game in the second.
Tied at 5-5, the Firefighters’ Adrian Vargas highlighted a three-run second inning with a home run of his own as Evanston regained the edge. Vargas and Villegas combined for two homers and five RBIs.
Lincolnwood once again responded, and in the top of the third took a 9-8 lead.
The Firefighters were down a run in the fourth inning when Xavier Black came through in the clutch with a game-tying RBI single. The Firefighters added two more runs in the inning to pull ahead, 11-9.
The Angels made it a one-run game the next inning, and were poised to do more damage until Finn Lundy took to the mound and ended the threat. Lundy picked up the save with six punch-outs through two and a third innings, including a strikeout to win the championship for the Firefighters. Evan Foley got the win, pitching one and two thirds innings while giving up one run.
“I was just thinking, ‘try to get out without giving up any runs’,” Lundy said about coming in with the bases loaded in the fifth. “I think it means a lot, because they hadn’t lost a game, and I think it taught them a lesson.”
While the celebration was under way Coach Foley said that each player had a part in the victory. A key example, the coach added was Eli Cohen, who drew a pair of walks but had a key catch in right field during the second inning.
“Everyone has to have some ownership, and I really believe that,” Coach Foley said. “Luckily they did it. Like Eli-he always worked really hard and was always trying his best. That’s all you can ask out of anyone.”