Baseball

Redbirds get ready for Senior Babe Ruth World Series

2012-07-23T22:00:00Z Redbirds get ready for Senior Babe Ruth World SeriesJohn Burbridge john.burbridge@nwi.com, (219) 933-3371 nwitimes.com

LANSING | There are flightless birds, and the Lansing Redbirds are among them.

"Now how many of you guys have never flown in an airplane?" asked Dave Sutkowski, who addressed players, coaches and parents about what to expect at the Senior Babe Ruth World Series. Sutkowski knows, his Hammond Chiefs were World Series champs in 2003 and runners-up in 2009.

More than half of the team raised their hands.

"It's going to be experience, just don't let it worry you," Sutkowski advised.

One team member has opted to avoid the experience -- manager Jacob Kosiara.

"My wife (Laura) is due in August with our first baby," said Kosiara, who will travel approximately 19 hours by automobile to Weimar, Texas, the site of the World Series starting Saturday. "So if anything happens, I want to be able to drive back.

"We already know it's a boy. We should already have a lot of scrapbook material to share with him about this interesting time in our lives."

The Lansing Redbirds became the first Lansing Babe Ruth team to advance as far as the World Series -- and they did it on their first try.

"Before, the league we played in (Southeast Suburban) put together a mishmash of players from all the teams to play in the state tournament," Kosiara said, "but it never worked out that well. The teams we sent never really jelled.

"For this year, and we've been fighting for this for a while, the league champion moved on to the state tournament. So this is a Lansing team, not an all-star team."

Lefty ace Mike Broadwell, who pitched two complete-game victories during Lansing's 4-0 championship run at the Ohio Valley Regional, likes the postseason arrangement.

"A lot of us played and grew up together ... it's almost like sandlot," Broadwell said. "If there is a problem here, it solved in less than 10 minutes."

Kosiara said that egos have never been a problem this season.

"How often can you tell your No. 3 hitter (Dom Albanese) to sacrifice bunt?" Kosiara said.

Albanese says he doesn't mind putting it down on occasion.

"I have to say I'm one of the smaller No. 3 hitters around," he said. "But I can deceive you and surprise you."

And the Redbirds are full of surprises, especially in game situations. In the bottom of the seventh inning against LaPorte in the second round of the regional, Kosiara called for a suicide squeeze.

"People said I was crazy afterwards," Kosiara said.

The ploy didn't go as planned as the bunt attempt on a low-and-away pitch didn't make contact, but Kyle Janowski managed to slide in ahead of the tag for the winning run.

"I never stole home in my life," Janowski said. "It was an amazing experience."

The Redbirds will take on the Pacific Northwest champion, Wilder, Wash., in the first round of pool play on Saturday.

"Don't think just because you come from this area and not from places like California where they play baseball outdoors year-round that you don't have a chance," Sutkowski told the team. "If you're good enough to make it to the World Series, you're good enough to win it."

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