Rich Farmer calls them the “best bunch of kids I’ve ever coached.”
Others call the Evergreen Park Athletic Association Senior League baseball team (15-16 year-olds) state champions.
Evergreen Park defeated Burbank 9-5 in the winner-take-all title game of the Little League state tournament on Wednesday night at Eastside Senior Field behind the play of David Ziebarth, Marty Meyer, Joe Crowley and Kevin Farmer.
Ziebarth, Meyer and Crowley combined to pitch the win. Crowley added a two-out, two-run single in the third inning to put Evergreen Park ahead 2-1.
“That got us started,” said Rich Farmer, manager of the team that is the first in Evergreen Park history to win a Senior League state championship.
His son, Kevin, picked up two RBIs, one on a suicide squeeze bunt and the other on a sacrifice fly. The win pushed Evergreen Park’s record to 7-1 in postseason play and to 30-8-1 overall. Burbank defeated Evergreen Park 7-0 when the two first met on Tuesday.
“We don’t have one superstar,” Rich Farmer said. “We have a bunch of guys that play together. We score runs. We play great defense. And we pitch pretty well. I threw seven pitchers in the state tournament and every one of them did their job.”
Evergreen Park next will play in the LaSalle-Peru Regional Aug. 4-8. The field will include teams from eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
“It’s absolutely fantastic that we’re state champions,” Farmer said. “I'm still on cloud nine myself. I can tell you this: It's the best bunch of kids I’ve ever coached. They hang out together. We had a breakfast before the state tournament. One of my coaches asked, ‘How many of the boys do you think will show up?’ I said, ‘All of them.’ And all of them did.
“They all know their roles. Some pitch. Some are pinch-runners. But there’s absolutely no bickering, no arguing and no-nonsense with this bunch. I’m blessed to have them. Yes, we’re going to LaSalle-Peru next. They’re all going to play. They’re all going to experience what it’s like to be in the regionals.
“It’s quite a feat. Basically, there are 60 kids in Illinois that advance past state tournament play, and I have 14 of them right here in little old Evergreen Park. We’re very proud of them.”
Evergreen Park Senior League Roster
Players: Dan Anzelmo, Joe Crowley, Kevin Farmer, Mickey Glover, Jon Karstrand, Mark Martin, Frank Meisl, Marty Meyer, Ron O’Toole, Brian Pall, Mike Rizzo, Jack Ryan, Tim Walsh, David Ziebarth.
Coaches: Rich Farmer (manager), Joe Glover, Ron O’Toole, Jim Walsh.