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Bayside travel team finishes .500 in Chicago

It was a trip they had planned for a year, but it would be an experience that would last a lifetime as the Bayside Little League 11-year-old travel team went 3-3, playing six games in four days to complete a successful run in the USSSA-CABA Illinois State Tournament in Chicago last week.

The team, managed by Doug Rowen and coached by Dominic Scianna, Ben Biordi and Gus Paraga, got what they came for; great competition, foreign soil and a taste of the Midwest that they had never seen before.

“We wanted to give the team the best possible competition and see how they would respond to being away from home.” Rowen said. “We liked what we saw. They played hard and never quit. We will take this experience sad be better for it next year when we compete in the 12-year-old Williamsport Tournament.”

The team was paired in the 12-year-old division with a 28-team field. They would see the best 11- and 12-year-olds from Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Florida.

After suffering back-to-back defeats in their first two games (including a 11-7 loss to the Mokena Vipers and Mount Greenwood-Vucsko, the No. 1 seed in the tournament), Bayside responded with a thrilling win that turned the trip around. Before a crowd of 250 strong and Bayside Commissioner Bob Reid at Thillens Stadium in the heart of Chicago, Bayside rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the top of the seventh to pull off a remarkable 8-6 win over the Hoffman Estates Heat in eight innings.

The rally started with timely hit, by Julius Wells (2-for-4), Spires Cominos (3-for-4, double) and Andrew Parraga (2-for-3, two RBls) to close the Hoffman lead to 4-2. Then catcher Peter Scianna, who was born in Chicago, delivered before his hometown crowd with a single to right field to cut the lead to 4-3 and keep the rally alive.

Great base running by George Rowen (2-for-4) and Chris Hamm gave Bayside the lead after Anthony Ippolito (2-for-3, two RBIs) ripped a single through a pulled-in Hoffman infield and the comeback was complete with Bayside taking a 5-4 lead.

Hoffman wouldn’t quit, cutting the lead to 7-6, but Bayside tacked on a final run in the eighth while Wells allowed just one run in four innings to earn the victory and Cominos closed with an important save, striking out the side to give the team its first win in Chicago. Starter Chris Hamm kept Bayside close with three strong innings on the mound as well.

The team made it two straight with a 20-16 slugfest victory over Bloomingdale on Saturday as Bayside’s “Killer Bees” again rallied late to win with a five run seventh inning.

Starring in the 20-run explosion were third baseman Michael Biordi (.333), who shined defensively in the tournament, and Chris Paruch and Nicky Ryan, who patrolled center field to keep Bloomingdale from scoring late in the game. Anthony Zupnick earned the win on the mound with a fine inning of work.

Finally, Bayside split two contests on the final day of the tournament, beating Grand Slam Baseball and then losing the nightcap to the Oak Forest Storm.

Bayside also did some site-seeing around their hectic schedule. They visited Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park, took a boat ride on Navy Pier and walked the Downtown streets of Michigan Avenue near Lake Michigan for a "Taste of Chicago" food festival.

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