The pinnacle for any Major League Baseball player is to advance to and win a World Series.
For a terrific team of teenagers from the area, that dream of winning a World Series championship recently came true. Over the weekend of July 26, the 16-and-under Creekside Fitness squad captured the junior National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series title in Northville, Mich. That tournament was contested between 12 teams of youngsters from Ohio, Texas, New York, Maryland, Michigan, Illinois and Canada. By winning the World Series, Creekside became the first-ever Little Class B team from the area to capture the crown. The Creekside roster was partially made up of players from Austintown, Boardman and Poland and was chosen from various Class B teams. Their success in the tournament was made possible because of some near-perfect pitching.
"Our pitching certainly carried us," said head coach Bob Boughner over the phone recently. "We had some clutch hitting, but even more clutch pitching."
The pitching was so clutch for Creekside that the team had a 0.70 ERA up until the final game of the tournament. In that championship clash, Creekside, who finished the tournament 5-1, avenged its only loss with a 9-8 win over Sayo Grays from Brooklyn. In that one loss to the Grays, Creekside committed four errors, but its defense was near perfect in the rematch and despite trailing late in the game the boys were able to rally for the historic win. Austintown Fitch's Scott Pierce plated the game-tying run in the seventh inning with a hit then fellow Fitch friend Zack Miller made everyone from the area happy with a game-winning RBI. Miller also homered in the championship capping a colossal World Series run that ended with the soon-to-be Falcon junior winning the MVP award.
"(Miller) had two homeruns and hit in the .500's," said Boughner. "He did well from the homerun derby (where he finished second), to the opening ceremonies to game time. He was clutch all tournament and deserved the MVP award."
Also considered for high honors was Mooney pitcher Kane Durkin. Durkin threw the third of Creekside's three consecutive one-hitters in a 3-0 win over Northville Broncos. The trio of near no-no's was another indication how colossal Creekside's pitching was, but the one by Durkin was gut-wrenching because he lost his gem with two outs in the final frame.
"He was pretty upset about it," said Boughner about Durkin's near date with destiny.
It surely wasn't upsetting watching how well Poland's Ricky Svetlak handled the catching duties during the weekend. Svetlak was sent in to the championship game due to an injury to the starter and besides starring defensively he had two hits and two ribbies.
"(Svetlak) had to step up in the championship," Boughner bragged. "He did a nice job with some clutch hitting and behind the plate too."
Aside from Svetlak, Poland was represented by pitcher Mark Passarello and Kiernan Kiske. Boardman was brought to light by third baseman Christian Lowery and right fielder Ryan Megyesi who both attend Mooney. One would think with a clashing of cultures between kids from so many rival schools, not to mention other teammates from places like Pennsylvania and South Range, there would be some bitterness between the boys. Coach Boughner was adamant that a championship could not have been claimed if that was the case.
"The kids from all different high schools got along great," he said proudly. "They had great camaraderie, formed a bond and became friends."
Friends, family and fans all got together on Aug. 2 at Cene Park to pay homage to the first ever junior World Series winners. That ceremony took place before the 18-and-under NABF tournament was about to start. As part of the celebration, Boughner was beckoned to make the ceremonial first pitch. Seeing how sensational his team's pitching was in the World Series, it was no shock that the coach's pitch was a near perfect strike.