10U team nabs state championship

Lisa Depies
Geneseo's state champion 10U baseball team includes, front row, from left: Keaton Rice, Mike Nelson, Dylan Pardoe, Ross Chapman, Jordan Jackson, Cade Humphries and bat boy Keaton Johnson. Second row, from left: Trey Johnson, Austin Harms, Braden Ries, Quentin Radue, Jacob Pauley and Charlie Wiese. Third row, from left: Jordan Anderson, Hunter Gierten, Sam Thomas, Cole? Hunzeker and Keegan Banister. Fourth row, from left: coaches Guy Pauley, Bob Thomas and Darin Pardoe.

Following a game-ending force-out at third base, “pandemonium” erupted in Galesburg as Geneseo’s 10U baseball team claimed the?Northern Illinois State Championship title.

“The kids mobbed the field and were jumping up and down ... as were the parents. It was pandemonium,” said Bob Thomas, who coaches the team alongside Guy Pauley and Darin Pardoe.

Geneseo defeated Galesburg National 4-1 in the championship game of the Cal Ripken Tournament at Galesburg’s Voyles Field on July 19. The win capped off an undefeated weekend for the Geneseo boys.

Geneseo bested Galesburg American 17-7 in their weekend opener on Friday and then defeated Galesburg National 4-3 on Saturday.

“The Galesburg teams we faced were good teams,” said Thomas.

With the tournament played in double-elimination format, Thomas said the boys knew if they could “get over the hump and beat the team one time” they’d be in a good position.

“We knew they had to beat us twice,”?he said. “We were focused on winning that semi-final game, because we knew if we got to the final, we had the pitching to go all the way.

“The kids had a real focus. They weren’t going to be denied,”?he said. “The team went to Galesburg and represented Geneseo very well. They played respectfully, and they played hard.

The comments we heard from other coaches were that our team was very fundamentally sound.”

Thomas said he also was pleased with the level of sportsmanship demonstrated by the Geneseo players.

“They didn’t do anything to disrespect the game. The kids showed great sportsmanship and were very well behaved,” he said.

Geneseo’s 10U Cal Ripken team is essentially the Geneseo Youth Baseball All-Star team, said Thomas.

“Everyone on the team plays in the youth baseball league. To make our team, they had to attend try-outs, and the kids made the team based off that,”?he said.

A core-group of the team’s roster has played together since age 7, said Thomas. “The kids really worked hard for this. It’s been three years of focusing on fundamentals. We don’t do anything special.?There are no smoke and mirrors; it’s all fundamentals.

“This has been a good learning experience for them. They’ve seen that hard work pays off,” said Thomas.

And that hard work already has continued. As state champions, the Geneseo 10U team has advanced to the Ohio Valley Regional in Vincennes, Ind.

“We went back to work at practice on Monday,” said Thomas.

Geneseo will start its Ohio Valley Regional play at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 25 taking on the winner of the Vincennes-Newburgh, Ind. game.

“We’re focused on Saturday at 1 p.m.,” said Thomas. “It’s a four-game tournament, so we have to win four games to make it to the next level.”

The tournament will feature 10 teams from eight different Midwestern states. The tournament winner will advance to the Cal Ripken World Series in Colorado.

This year’s 10U team is the second Geneseo Cal Ripken team to win a state championship and the first at the 10U level. The 2008 12U team also captured a state championship.

“It’s been fun to watch the kids perform,” said Thomas. “We feel like we’ve been very blessed. The kids have worked hard, and they’ve had great support.”

Members of the state champion Geneseo 10U team are Jordan Anderson, Keegan Banister, Ross Chapman, Hunter Girten, Austin Harmes, Cade? Humphries, Cole Hunzeker, Jordan Jackson, Trey Johnson, Mike Nelson, Dylan Pardoe,  Jacob Pauley, Quentin Radue, Keaton Rice, Braden Ries, Sam Thomas, Charlie Wiese and bat boy Keaton Johnson.

Geneseo 10U players celebrate on the field following their 4-1 defeat of Galesburg National at Voyles Field in Galesburg on July 19.