For the seventh time since 1959, Coon Rapids Andover American Little League sent a team to represent Minnesota at the Little League Midwest Regional tournament.
Big Red, as the 12-year-old baseball all-star team is known as, left for Indinapolis, Indiana July 31 after winning the state title in Grand Rapids July 28.
The team was 4-0, within two games of qualifying for the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn. before this edition went to press.
Coon Rapids Andover posted two shutouts, scored at least 13 runs three times and outscored the opposition 67-10 in the four games.
Coon Rapids Andover opened with a 16-5 against Timberline LL from Rapid City, S.D. followed by shutouts against Webb City, Missouri 13-0 and Girard, Kansas 31-0.
Coon Rapids Andover needed seven innings to move past Kerney, Nebraska, 7-5, and into the semifinals as the top-seed.
Coon Rapids Andover took an initial 4-0 lead but Kerney cut it to 4-3. The score stayed tight until the top of the seventh inning when Coon Rapids Andover scored twice in what turned out to be the difference.
Semifinals were set for Aug. 7 and the championship game was Aug. 9.
The ball club took two days to reach Indianapolis in the team van that included stops at the Field of Dreams site in Dyersville, Iowa and other sites along the way.
Once they made it to the tournament home, Ruben F. Glick Little League Baseball Center, the team moved into the dorms.
The dorms include a gated area where players and three coaches live while they aren’t playing baseball. “They have a ton of things to do inside and parent’s aren’t allowed in, other than the commons area,” assistant coach Ray Brodeur and Matthew Brodeur’s father said from outside the area. He’s serving as a fourth coach so he doesn’t get to stay with the rest of the team.
“Everyone is treated like a star, the fields are in amazing shape and it’s been an amazing experience,” he said.
Brodeur said the teams develop great relationships by spending time away from the diamond together. “Right now trading pins is huge and last night we had a foot race challenge,” he said.
Brodeur overheard teams generally enjoy the regional tournament more than the Little League World Series simply because of the freedom of the schedule. “There’s a lot more media responsibilities once they get to Williamsport[Penn.},” he said.
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