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Minooka 14U Rivercats second in national tourney

Team will move to Joliet Dynasty Baseball next summer

One sign of growing older is that you outgrow things.

Such is the case for the 14U Minooka Rivercats travel baseball team. The Rivercats played their last tournament as the Rivercats, as they have outgrown the facilities of the Minooka Baseball Softball Association.

Minooka finished second at the Game Day USA Gatorade National Championships - Chicago. Teams came from as far as Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana with 17 total teams entering the four-day tournament in Wheeling.

In pool play Thursday, the Rivercats scored a 9-6 win over the Cangelosi Sparks. The Minooka offense was led by Ryan Norman, who was 3 for 3 with a two-run double. Caleb Parker (double) and Ivan Dahlberg (3-run homer) both had two hits, while Sammy Warren had a two-run double to support starting pitcher Nolan Larson, who pitched five innings with nine strikeouts.

Pool play continued Friday, as Minooka beat Rake City Elite, 10-3, and blanked Chicago Pirates Baseball, 15-0. Against Rake City, Mitch Thomas threw two hitless innings, getting relief help from Parker and Warren. Thomas, Parker and Louie Johnson each had two hits and combined for five RBIs. Norman and Larson each had a two-run double. Against Chicago, Minooka exploded for 11 hits, as Parker, Johnson, Charlie Dilulio, and Matthe Medlin all had two hits. Johnson homered and had five RBIs, while Parker and Medlin both doubled and had three RBIs each.

The Rivercats ended with the top seed after Saturday's final game of pool play, a 14-0 win over Indiana Knights. Frankie Hummel hit a two-run homer and Parker had two hits, an RBI and three stolen bases. Norman doubled and had three RBIs, while Dahlberg stroked a two-run triple. Zac Monnett added a double.

In Sunday's bracket play, Minooka beat Chicago Pirates Baseball, 9-1 as Norman sparked the offense with a two-run homer in the first inning. Norman, Thomas, Hummel and Parker all had two hits. In the semifinal, the Rivercats downed Lansing (MI) Express, 8-3 as Parker had a homer and a double among three hits. Dahlberg also had three hits, including two doubles, and Hummel added two hits and three RBIs, while Medlin and Nolan Larsen each added two hits. 

In the title game, Parker homered, but that was all for the Minooka offense as they suffered a 9-1 defeat to the Lincoln-Way Prospects Black.

Minooka finished the 14U season with a combined 33-12 record and four tournament championships and two runner up finishes.

"It has been an exciting run with the Rivercats organization, winning 17 tournaments over the past four years," head coach Chris Norman said. "But we are looking forward to improving our training and increasing our exposure at Illinois Dynasty Baseball. Jay Dahlberg and I have coached for MBSA (Minooka Baseball Softball Association) for eight years including six of those for the 9U-14U Rivercats.

"We will have weekday practices at the new JJC indoor facility and will also utilize the Joliet West field house and varsity baseball field. We currently have 10 Minooka High School kids committed to pay with us next season, so it will remain a Minooka focused travel team. We will prepare the kids, starting in November, for high school tryouts in late February. Then start our travel season after high school baseball. In late May and through July, we are planning to travel for tournaments at Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and South Carolina." 

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