The Phillies are the 2021 Flossmoor Baseball Bronco League champions.
They bested the Yankees 11-10 Wednesday, July 14, in a back-and-forth game that lived up to the hype of the festivities surrounding it.
Things were all knotted up at 6-6, and then again at 10-10 in the sixth following a homer by the Yankees’ David Hill. But the Phillies scored a run to take the lead in the top of the seventh and were able to hang on in the bottom of the inning, stranding a Yankees runner to win the crown.
Bryce Gilmore of the Yankees also sent one over the fence during the game. And Brynn Williams pitched to close out the sixth inning as well as in the seventh to earn the win for the Phillies.
Bronco League Commissioner James Cheung said the evening was a great end to an “unconventional year” for the fifth- and sixth-graders following last year’s COVID-19 pandemic-related cancellation.
“We didn’t know what our numbers would look like coming back,” Cheung said. “We were thinking we would be lucky to get two teams. We got four teams, great kids.
“We’re ending on a real high note here on a beautiful night. Everybody’s getting out, having fun, playing good baseball.”
Earlier in the evening, the Giants beat the Cubs 13-7 to claim third place. Between the games, Curtis Jones, of Flossmoor, otherwise known by stage name Green Velvet, threw out the first pitch for the championship. That honor was his first, but he said it came easy and he was happy to be part of the festivities.
“It is awesome,” he said. “The weather’s great; the sun is shining; the people are happy; I smell popcorn. It’s awesome.”
Just before the game, Williams was surprised with a trophy recognizing her as the first female winner of the Jarrett Rowe Memorial Award, named for a local youth who died in 2010 at just 17 years old. The award in his name recognizes sportsmanship, dedication, teamwork, spirit and ability.
“All of those things Jarrett had in abundance — amazing baseball player but a more amazing kid,” said Rick Lukasik, who led the presentation.
“He was a great kid,” added Chuck Michaels, who helped in presenting the award. “He was one of the best.”
Lukasik said Flossmoor Baseball knew after Jarrett’s death that the organization had to create something to remember him. The award was the most logical choice, he explained.
“It’s gone over pretty big here in Flossmoor Baseball,” he said. “It’s a great tradition, and I think the kids really enjoy it.”
Jarrett’s father, Hopeton, greeted the winner. He said seeing his son’s name on the award means a lot to him every single year they do this.
“You have no idea,” Rowe said. “It’s an emotional moment every time I’m here.”
Williams said she was “honored” to get the award.
“I’m just very happy I won it,” she said.
Her mother, Shannon, noted Brynn has been in the league since she was 5 years old, often playing the role of “mother hen” in a dugout that is mostly male. She was proud to see her daughter win the award before the championship.
“She just loves the sport, and she goes out and gives it her all,” Shannon said.
Mayor Michelle Nelson, who was out July 14 for the festivities, said she thinks Flossmoor Baseball is special because it is volunteer-run by dedicated parents.
“When you have parents run it, it takes things to a new level,” she said. “It’s really special.”
She added that after the past 18 months, it was nice to see the season end in a big way.
“I think we’ve made up for a lot of lost time,” Nelson said.
Cheung added he is thankful to all of Flossmoor Baseball sponsors who stuck with the group through hard times.
“This is an important part of the community to have this up and running,” he said. “It’s all volunteer-driven, but we rely heavily on our community partners. We rely on them, and they rely on us to make it all a community.”
Photos by Bill Jones/H-F Chronicle, except as noted.