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Channahon overcomes adversity to win opener

CHANNAHON – As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

That held true for the Channahon 12-year-old Bronco baseball team Thursday on the opening day of the North Zone Tournament. The tourney, which had been held for years at St. Joe’s Park in Crest Hill, was being held by Channahon for the first time, and there was a snag.

A team from a Region tournament in Kankakee backed out at the last minute, leaving the eight-team zone with seven teams and a scheduling nightmare.

“We were still hashing the schedule out at the managers’ meeting at 8:30 this morning,” tournament director Trevor Markee said. “We had a team back out, so, as the host team, we took the earliest game. We tried to get a team from Clifton to come, but they couldn’t, and we tried to get a team from Wilmington to come, but they couldn’t. So, after a lot of talk with the coaches, we went with a seven-team tournament with one big pool.”

The tourney was originally designed with two four-team pools playing round-robin, with the two best records in each pool moving to Sunday’s semifinals. Now, the teams have a different schedule, and the four teams with the best records will still move on to Sunday’s semis, and the winner of the tournament still goes to Los Alomitos, California next weekend.

“We had a lot of help from Denny Doyle, who is with the Channahon Baseball League, and Joe and Donna Marshall, who have been running Crest Hill’s program for years,” Markee said. “They were a great help in organizing this at the last minute. They had a lot of real good input.”

When the games started, Channahon, which was originally scheduled to play at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, got to play at 10 a.m. instead, and beat the Kankakee Knights, 6-1. Pretty good on short notice, but very good considering that coach Jason Bisbee couldn’t get the time off work on such short notice.

“I have very good assistant coaches,” Bisbee said. “Jeff Butts, Matt Barys, Brian Holmes, Andy Keyster. They all helped out today and they have been with these kids since they were 7 to 8 years old. Plus, we just have good families and good ballplayers. These kids wanted to play and they went out and played well.”

Channahon took a while to get going, as the game was tied, 1-1, after four innings. Then, the bats woke up. After Tim Barys doubled and stole third and home to tie the game in the fourth, Aiden Allen had an RBI single, and Blake Beckwith delivered an RBI double in the fourth to put Channahon ahead, 3-1. In the bottom of the sixth, Barys led off with a triple and scored on a single by Mack Tyrell. Matt Sitar had an RBI single and Jared Bisbee had an RBI sacrifice to provide the final margin.

It was more than enough Channahon pitchers Dallas VanMeter and Tyrell. VanMeter threw four innings and allowed just one run while striking out three, while Tyrell finished with three scoreless innings that featured two strikeouts.

Channahon’s next game is at 3 p.m. Friday against Grand Ledge, Michigan, which defeated McCutcheon, Indiana, 16-10, on Thursday.

“We have had a pretty strong summer,” Bisbee said. “It was awesome to get that first win under our belts, especially under less than ideal circumstances. But we know there is good competition here and we have to bring our A game the rest of the weekend, too.

“We won the New Lenox Tournament a couple weeks ago, and we went to Cooperstown earlier in the summer and saw full-time travel teams from Texas and Michigan and held our own. These kids have pretty much been together since they were eight years old, so they have been looking forward to a chance like this to go somewhere.”

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