2005 Illinois State Little League® Tournament Results
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Illinois State Tournament
Major Baseball Division

Toward the past

Toward the present

Illinois State Tournament
Host - Moline American/National (District 5)
At Leo Brunner Field; Warren Giles Riverside Baseball Complex

Participating Teams
Section 1 Champions Salem (District 1)
Section 2 Champions Clear Ridge (Chicago) (District 15)
Section 3 Champions Lansing East (District 6)
Section 4 Champions Mundelein American (District 16)
Section 5 Champions Limestone (Kankakee) (District 18)

Click here to view 2005 district tournament results for Illinois.

Tournament Results:

Opening Round:
Salem 7, Clear Ridge 6 (7 innings)

Winner's Bracket Semifinals:
Lansing East 6, Limestone 0
Mundelein American 3, Salem 1

Elimination Bracket Quarterfinals (five teams remain):
Limestone 13, Clear Ridge 2 (6 innings; elim.)

Winner's Bracket Finals:
Mundelein American 7, Lansing East 3

Elimination Bracket Semifinals (four teams remain):
Limestone 5, Salem 3 (elim.)

Elimination Bracket Finals (three teams remain):
Limestone 8, Lansing East 4 (elim.)

Championship Series:
Limestone 4, Mundelein American 2
Batter-by-Batter recap
Limestone 11, Mundelein American 6 (TITLE) Batter-by-Batter recap


The New York Giants entered the 1954 World Series as decided underdogs to a Cleveland Indians team that won a then-American League record 111 games during the regular season. But the Giants, riding momentum gained in their extra inning victory in the series' first game, stunned the baseball world with a four game sweep of the American League champions and won their first World Series championship in twenty-one years.

The series opener at the Polo Grounds turned on a play that is known today simply as "the catch". With the score tied 2-2 in the eighth inning, Cleveland's first two batters reached base. First baseman Vic Wertz, who was working on a four hit day and had driven in both Cleveland runs with a first inning triple, then lashed a 420 feet drive to deep center field that seemed destined to fall for extra bases and give the Indians the lead. But New York center fielder Willie Mays raced back, corralled the drive with an over-the-shoulder catch, and quickly fired the ball back to the infield. Larry Doby tagged up and advanced to third base, but Al Rosen held at first, and the Giants eventually escaped the inning without allowing a run. Two innings later, Dusty Rhodes' pinch hit, three-run homer gave New York the win. The Giants would trail only one more time in the series.

Fifty-one years later and 850 or so miles west of the the site where Mays made what became the signature defensive play of his storied career, the Illinois state Little League tournament championship game turned on its own version of "the catch". With the state championship on the line at Moline Little League's Leo Brunner Field, Limestone Little League and Mundelein American Little League squared off in a see-saw matchup that saw four lead changes in the game's early innings. Limestone carried a precarious 7-6 edge into the bottom of the fourth, but Mundelein threatened with a pair of baserunners and only one out.

Mundelein slugger Nick Delaquila -- who had homered twice the day before against Limestone -- then launched a deep drive that looked destined to leave the park and put his team back in front. But Limestone right fielder Travis Fuller reached over the fence and snared the ball, robbing Mundelein of a potential lead-changing three-run homer, and sustaining the Kankakee County team's slim lead.

Mundelein failed to score in the inning, and didn't threaten again, as Limestone went on to claim an 11-6 victory. With the win, Limestone won its first-ever state championship in the major baseball division, and advanced to the Great Lakes Region tournament in Indianapolis, Indiana.

"That was the game saver," said Limestone manager John Engelman of Fuller's grab. "The quietest kid on the team made the best play. That's why this is a team -- everyone does their part."

Limestone, which won five games in five days at the state tournament following an opening round loss, overcame 2-0 and 4-2 deficits in the championship game. The District 18 champions had ten hits in the game and capitalized on nine walks issued by Mundelein pitchers.

Seven of the walks came in the second and sixth innings, when Limestone scored nine of its runs. After Billy McMahon doubled home a run and later scored to put Mundelein on top in the first inning, Limestone's first four batters in the second inning walked, and all eventually scored. Spike Engelman's two-run single to left field snapped a 2-2 tie, and he later scored on a groundout to put Limestone in front by a 5-2 score.

Mundelein, which had previously roared to the District 16 title after losing its inaugural game in the double-elimination tournament, fought back. McMahon, who was 3-for-4 on the day, slammed a two-run homer over the left field fence, and Brian Grant and Delaquila both scored on wild pitches to pull Mundelein back into the lead after three innings.

Limestone answered with two outs in the fourth. Mundelein's pitcher had retired eight consecutive batters when Tyler Evans re-started the Limestone offense with his third home run of the tournament, and Justin Ruckman immediately followed with his second homer in as many days.

The blasts gave Limestone a 7-6 lead, and Engelman, who moved to the mound during Mundelein's third inning rally, settled down after Fuller's game-saving catch to close out the win. Thirteen of Mundelein's 23 batters had reached base prior to the catch, but only two of nine did afterward.

Limestone sealed the win with four runs in the sixth, as Jordan Ruckman and Justin Wolter delivered RBI singles.

Limestone's potent title game offense -- ten different players scored or drove in a run on the evening -- was a far cry from the tournament's opening night, when the Kankakee County team stumbled to a 6-0 loss against Lansing East Little League. Jeff Boehm's three-run home run three batters into the bottom of the first inning, coupled with his fourteen strikeout, four-hitter on the mound, put Limestone into a hole that they spent the rest of the tournament digging out of.

"My hat is off to their pitcher," said John Engelman, whose team scored ten or more runs in 13 of its 21 international tournament games. "I haven't seen anyone shut us down in three years."

The next evening, Limestone collected fifteen hits, and began to claw its way back through the bottom bracket with a 13-2 win over Clear Ridge Little League. Ten different Limestone players had hits in the game, led by Engelman (a double and two triples among his four hits), Justin Ruckman (two doubles, three hits), and Jordan Ruckman (two hits). The win avenged Limestone's loss in the 2003 9-10 year old state championship game.

"Now that's Limestone baseball," said John Engelman of his team's turnaround. "Good hitting, good pitching, no errors.

"The kids really wanted this one," he added. "It was kind of a revenge thing from two years ago."

After a 5-3 win over Salem Little League -- Jordan Ruckman allowed two hits and struck out ten -- Limestone avenged their more recent defeat with an 8-4 win over Lansing East. Limestone scored six runs in the first two innings, with Evans' three-run homer breaking a 3-3 tie and putting the eventual state champions in front for good. Justin Ruckman followed his brother's two-hitter with a four-hit complete game of his own, striking out eight and allowing only two hits after the first inning.

"I'm privileged to coach the Ruckman boys," said John Engelman of his team's eleven-year-old twins. "Justin came up to me after the fifth inning and said 'I want to finish this game'. That's what a coach wants to hear."

The next day Wolter started and finished, needing only 69 pitches in a complete game effort of his own as Limestone downed Mundelein 4-2 to force the tournament to its final game. Justin Ruckman's solo homer to left field opened the scoring in the first, and Limestone added three more with a two-out rally in the fourth. Luke Stetson tripled into the right center field gap to drive in Fuller, and later scored on a wild pitch. Engelman capped the rally with a double to right field that plated Joseph Kirkpatrick.

Delaquila, who played on Mundelein National Little League's 2004 state championship team as an eleven-year-old before being drafted into the American League when Mundelein reorganized its league structure, had three hits in the game, including long solo home runs in the fourth and sixth innings. Wolter held the rest of Mundelein's lineup to only one hit to earn his second win of the tournament.

"I knew we were in good shape with Justin Wolter on the mound," said John Engelman. "He comes up big every time."

The next evening, Fuller's catch put Limestone in control, just as Mays' pre-ESPN web gem helped catapult the Giants to their own title. New York had finished 35 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1953 National League standings before raising the World Series flag the next year. For Limestone, their 2005 state championship came exactly 35 years after the league's only previous district championship in the major baseball division. Limestone was the District 18 runner-up in each of the three previous years, and had been among the top three finishers in the district tournament nine times in thirteen years. Their breakthrough eventually gave Limestone another runner-up finish -- this time, in the Great Lakes Region tournament.

"We've been so close and fought so hard for so many years," said Limestone board member Gene Walther, a longtime Limestone volunteer who played on the 1970 Bonfield-Limestone Little League all-star team that claimed the league's lone prior district title.

"The curse", he said, "is broken."

Follow Limestone at the Great Lakes Region Tournament -- Click here to view results.


  Championship Series Game 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 R H E
Limestone 1 0 0 3 0 0 4 6 1
Mundelein American 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 4 0
  Championship Series Game 2
Limestone 0 5 0 2 0 4 11 10 1
Mundelein American 2 0 4 0 0 0 6 6 1

2005 Illinois District Champions and Sectional Tournament Results

District Champions
in Section 1
District Champions
in Section 2
D1 - Salem
D2 - Champaign Western
D3 - Taylorville Red Bland
D17 - Carthage

Section 1 Tournament
Host - Beardstown (District 17)
At Schmoldt Park

Tournament Schedule/Results:
1 - Salem 5, Carthage 2
2 - Taylorville Red Bland 13, Champaign Western 5
3 - Champaign Western 6, Carthage 3 (elim.)
4 - Salem 12, Taylorville Red Bland 2
5 - Champaign Western 12, Taylorville Red Bland 2
6 - Salem 6, Champaign Western 5 (TITLE)

D9 - Western Springs
D11 - Naperville United
D15 - Clear Ridge (Chicago)

Section 2 Tournament
Host - Burbank National (District 15)

Tournament Schedule/Results:
1 - Western Springs 12, Naperville United 10
2 - Clear Ridge 10, Western Springs 7
3 - Western Springs 2, Naperville United 1 (elim.)
4 - Clear Ridge 6, Western Springs 4 (TITLE)

District Champions
in Section 3
District Champions
in Section 4
D4 - Roseland (Chicago)
D6 - Lansing East
D7 - Evergreen Park
D8 - Alsip

Section 3 Tournament
Host - Roseland (Chicago) (District 4)
At Roseland LL Field

Tournament Schedule/Results:
1 - Evergreen Park 5, Roseland 4 (7 innings)
2 - Lansing East 4, Alsip 3
3 - Roseland 7, Alsip 3 (elim.)
4 - Lansing East 13, Evergreen Park 3
5 - Evergreen Park 8, Roseland 0 (elim.)
6 - Lansing East 9, Evergreen Park 4 (TITLE)

D10 - Melrose Park
D13 - Elgin Classic North
D16 - Mundelein American

Section 4 Tournament
Host - Mundelein (District 16)
At Community Park

Tournament Schedule/Results:
1 - Melrose Park 6, Elgin Classic North 5
2 - Mundelein American 5, Melrose Park 0
3 - Elgin Classic North 14, Melrose Park 3 (4 innings; elim.)
4 - Mundelein American 5, Elgin Classic North 3 (TITLE)

District Champions
in Section 5
D5 - Moline American
D18 - Limestone (Kankakee)
D19 - Morrison
D20 - Streator

Section 5 Tournament
Host - Moline American/National (District 5)
At Leo Brunner Field; Warren Giles Riverside Baseball Complex

Tournament Schedule/Results:
1 - Moline American 9, Morrison 2
2 - Limestone 10, Streator 3
3 - Streator 4, Morrison 1 (elim.)
4 - Limestone 7, Moline American 4
5 - Moline American 4, Streator 1
6 - Moline American 16, Limestone 11 (7 innings)
7 - Limestone 7, Moline American 2 (TITLE)

Toward the past

Toward the present

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Last revision: 06/11/2006