Adult Baseball

Brewers win Over the Hill adult baseball league title

2013-09-23T17:30:00Z 2013-09-24T02:38:07Z Brewers win Over the Hill adult baseball league titleJohn Burbridge, (219) 933-3371

The Brewers have adopted the name of a Wisconsin-based Major League Baseball team.

And several of their players have adopted the retirement plan of a Wisconsin-based National Football League icon. That is if Brett Favre is still considered an icon up there.

"Most of our original players, me included, announced during the season that this was going to be our last year," said Steven Willison, manager of the Crown Point Parks Over the Hill League Brewers, which recently won the adult 33-and-over title after edging the Dogs, 5-4, in the postseason tournament final earlier this month.

"Our younger players, the guys we picked up over the years, went out of their way to make sure we left with a championship. But you know, after finally winning this and all the fun I had this season, I and a couple of the other guys who said they were going to hang it up may come back."

Where have we heard that before?

For the Brewers, the Over the Hill title was a long time coming. They were coming off three straight championship-round losses — two of those at the hands of the Dogs.

This year, the Brewers secured the top seed in the playoffs with a 13-5 regular-season record, which was matched by several teams but the Brewers claimed all tiebreaker bids. In the playoffs, the Brewers went 3-0 including a 6-4 win over the Dogs in the winners bracket.

"Our goal was to stay out of the loser's bracket," Willison said. "Years before we had to battle out of it, and that puts you at a great disadvantage."

Willison credits much of the team's success to good defense and a deep pitching staff that included workhorses Kevin Smith and Jerad "Flash" Flachsenberger, who combined for more than 50 strikeouts in 85 innings.

Offensive leaders included Willison, Al Strauch, Nate McMillan and Lowell High School varsity baseball coach Bobby Wong, who all hit better than .400 during the season.

Willison, 46, played baseball at Morton before drifting into slow-pitch softball.

"But after a while, I became the 'old guy' of the league playing with and against all these 18- and 20-year-olds," Willison said. "Then I heard about a 33-and-over baseball league (in Crown Point), and I decided to be the young guy again."

Thirteen years ago, Willison founded the Brewers. From that team, Willison, Smith, Jim Gorman, Herb Nelson and Russ Hamm have remained.

Making the transition from softball back to baseball was more liberating than difficult for Willison.

"I tell people who think they're too old for fast-pitch baseball that it's not all that overwhelming," Willison said. "You're usually facing a 35-year-old pitcher and trying not to get thrown out by a 40-year-old catcher. It's all relative.

"For me, it felt so great to lead off first base again. That's when I knew I was back in the game."

As for how long Willison and his fellow original Brewers will remain in the game, stay tuned.

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