Hinsdale Little Leaguers just miss out on World Series
The Hinsdale Little League All Stars tasted defeat for the first time recently, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The team fell 6-3 in the final of the Great Lakes Regional Championship to Grosse Pointe, Michigan. A win would have secured a place in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Despite his team bowing out in the regional title game, Hinsdale's head coach Anthony Waelter told the DuPage Policy Record he was proud of the way the team played all summer.
“I don’t think I could be anything but pleased with the team,” Waelter said. “They set a target of going to Williamsport and worked hard every day. They were two outs away from achieving that really lofty goal. You have to really admire that they set a goal and went out and were so close to reaching it.”
Waelter has been coaching Little League for more than a decade, in Florida as well as Southern Illinois. This year, Waelter coached his son Andres, who was selected for the Hinsdale All Star Team. Andres pitched a perfect game in the state championship game, which sent Hinsdale into the regional tournament.
The team faced adversity going into the regional tournament, when Lucas Smith, the team’s starting catcher who also pitched, broke his leg. Waelter said he felt the team responded well to the challenge well.
“When you lose one of your top players to injury, it’s a big deal,” he said. “It’s amazing that the team rallied after that injury and still performed really well to get to the regional final.”
One of the best moments of the tournament for Waelter came in the regional tournament, when his All Stars faced a team from Ohio. Hinsdale was down 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the final inning of a regulation game, and ended up winning on a wild pitch, 5-4.
Waelter said he thinks the team’s success could have a ripple effect.
“I think we should have a nice impact on kids in the area," he said. "I think the team was viewed really positively on TV. The boys represented Hinsdale really well, and I think that people in the area really supported the team.”
Waelter said every player had a key role in Hinsdale making it to the regional final.
“There were a couple of times when guys who were subs came in and got key hits when we needed them,” Waelter said. “It’s very very hard to play this game coming off the bench. Accepting that role and then coming in and contributing is something I will remember for a long time.”
The Little League World Series features eight teams from around the United States and eight international teams.