Royal Oak Sandlot League World Series Wraps Up
The Royal Oak Sandlot League wrapped up an exciting season with World Series championship playoffs for each of its divisions this week at Memorial Park.
Two of its champions were crowned Sunday night, with Tania’s Pizza & More winning the Freehan Division (ages 9-11), and Dr. Matlen’s Happy Feet claiming the girls softball title.
The remaining two divisions decided their champions on Wednesday and Friday evenings after a pair of three-game series.
Harwell Division (ages 14-17)
The William Sullivan & Sons team offense had been largely dormant through the first two games of the Harwell division World Series. They were shut out by Oakland Utilities, 5-0, in the first game and narrowly won the second game, 2-1.
After falling into an early 4-1 deficit in game three, Oakland Utilities rallied to take a 5-4 lead going into the sixth inning. However, the William Sullivan & Sons offense struck back with two runs in the sixth to regain the lead. They added five more runs in the seventh and final inning and held on for the victory.
William Sullivan & Sons manager Jeff Skarjune said his team had to overcome some obstacles to win the World Series, including a good opponent.
“(Oakland Utilities) scored a lot of runs against us, and spanked us pretty good in game one,” Skarjune said. “We battled back from game one, and then they got down by a run (in game three) and battled back from that. We got contributions from the top of the order to the bottom.”
Skarjune said a difficult practice schedule meant his players had to put in a lot of extra time over the course of the season to reach their goal of winning a title.
“You’ve got guys that are playing for school and for other teams, and we can’t practice with a full team until the season starts,” Skarjune said.
“We’re trying to squeeze in any time we can get, so these guys are showing up and putting in extra time,” he said. “I had a couple of guys that got here early and the first thing they said was ‘Can I take some extra ground balls?’ They came fired up, ready to play and ready to win.”
Despite the struggles early in the series, Skarjune said he believed his team had what it took to win.
“I told these guys right from the start that we would win the World Series this year,” Skarjune said. “At any level that you play, any chance you have to win a championship is a good thing. When they got their trophies tonight, I said, ‘Be proud of it. It says champions for a reason and you guys earned it.’ I could not be more proud of my team.”
Kaline Division (ages 12-13)
The first two games of the Kaline division World Series provided a lot of offense and thrilling finishes.
Royal Oak Firefighters captured the first game, defeating Avery Printing, 16-15, in extra innings. In game two, Avery Printing scored 11 runs in the first three innings, but the Firefighters rallied to tie the game at 11. However, Avery answered the rally by scoring two more runs of their own in the sixth inning and holding on for a 13-11 victory that tied the series at one game apiece.
For a while, it looked like Wednesday night’s game three might have to be postponed. Rain began falling steadily shortly after the first pitch, but it was never heavy enough to force umpires to stop the game. Undeterred by the poor weather, the Firefighters continued their offensive surge, and held Avery Printing to just one run in a 15-1 Firefighters’ victory.
Firefighters’ co-manager Mike Geboski said the win was special for his team.
“The kids will always remember it,” Geboski said. “You always want to be a winner, and they’re winners. It was a team effort, the kids did a great job and we’ve got great coaches.”
Geboski’s co-manager, Steve Agnello, said the team’s hard work and preparation throughout the season was crucial.
“We called a special practice before the World Series just because this team is so competitive,” Agnello said. “I know (the win) means a lot to the coaches, the players and their parents because they worked so hard for it all year. Everything worked out nice for us.”
Agnello added that he was especially proud of the kids on his team.
“Every young man (on the team) is such a nice kid,” Agnello said. “I don’t have any kids but they feel like mine. They’re going to go far in life.”