The Evanston Firefighters of the Evanston Baseball Softball Association Pony League finished the regular season with a league-best 13-3 record and had hopes of making a run at the Pony League championship.
But in the league semifinals on June 8, the Firefighters took on the Wilmette Mets and were unable to advance to the finals, as they fell to the Mets 10-7. The Firefighters held a 7-6 lead after four innings but late-inning errors cost them the game, as the Mets scored four unanswered runs the rest of the way to give them the victory. The Firefighters were also without two key offensive players. Given the circumstances, head coach John Foley said on that day it just was not meant to be, but on a different day, things would have been different.
“One of the challenges of pony baseball is all the end of school-year activities that are planned and how they conflict with baseball,” said Coach Foley. “While we genuinely lost, we were missing two key players, Zach Holloway and Gabe Aicholzer, who represented a large portion of our offense throughout the season. On a different day, I know we would have been on the positive side of the ledger.”
Even though the Firefighters fell short of a championship, Foley is pleased with how his team played throughout the season.
“We had a very good season with a bunch of players that I hope to see playing in high school. While our team represented the diversity of Evanston, what made them special was their common enjoyment of baseball, that was the primary bonding agent,” said Foley. “They were genuinely supportive of their teammates, did not get down on each other, and the more gifted players were willing to impart their knowledge to the team (for example, teaching a new pitcher how to hold a runner on base without balking).”
The Firefighters’ 13-3 record was attained thanks in part to solid performances from eighth-graders Aicholzer and Evan Foley. “[Aicholzer is] one of the best center-fielders around, he’s fast and a great leadoff hitter,” said coach Foley. “[Evan is a] very good pitcher, [he has an] excellent bat [and is a] team player. I hope [both] will play for ETHS next year.”
Other players that had solid seasons were Holloway and seventh-graders Jackson Rogers and Tim Brewer.
“Holloway led the team in home runs, [he is a] quiet leader, played catcher, shortstop and pitcher very well. I hope he plays for Lane Tech next year.
“Jackson [is a] solid catcher [and was the] fastest guy on the team and gave it his all. Tim is an excellent all around player. Very smart and knows how to win and lead,” Foley added.
Young ballplayers wishing to join the Firefighters or another team should know that EBSA Pony league is open to all kids in seventh and eighth grades who wish to play baseball. “EBSA has an excellent Pony program that is open to all seventh and eighth graders who want to enjoy baseball,” said Foley.
Fall league registration opens in August and summer league registration is now closed. EBSA also has leagues for kids of all ages and is open to all who wish to participate in baseball and softball. There are no tryouts; there are nominal fees to participate; and scholarships are available.