HAMMOND | As the Plymouth players, coaches and parents congregated near the scoreboard to snap photos of the final score, Hammond Optimist Youth Sports Bulldogs manager Tom McDermott, whose name and title of Hammond mayor is prominently placed on the scoreboard, was showing off one of the individual runner-up trophies awarded to his team.
"This is going to be our traveling trophy," McDermott told the Bulldogs after they lost to Plymouth 4-0 in the 12U championship game of the annual HOYS Spring Fling Tournament on April 14.
"Second place ... yippee!"
It was the third tournament the Bulldogs have played this season, and the first outdoors. They won an indoor tournament in Lafayette earlier in the month, and have placed third at another tourney.
"We don't like second place," McDermott said, "but we're going to keep (the trophy) until we win another tournament, then we'll likely throw it away."
The Bulldogs are 10-2 this season. Against Plymouth, several miscues paved way for a three-run rally in the third inning. The Bulldogs posed several subsequent threats against a staff of advanced breaking-ball pitchers, but twice stranded runners in scoring position.
"(Plymouth is) a good team," McDermott said, "but we're a good team, too. If we would play them again tomorrow, things may be different."
As hosts of this summer's Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series, the Bulldogs have already secured one of the 10 spots with an automatic bid. The Northern Indiana champion also gets at bid. So will the Bulldogs get a possible rematch with Plymouth?
"They're a travel team that draws from a wide span, so they don't qualify," McDermott said. "We like to go up against teams like that."
The weather was fickle for the three-day tournament. The Saturday rounds was plagued with snow and temperatures in the low 30s. Sunday's sunny and mid-70s setting was a dramatic improvement.
"You could say this was the opener for our all-star teams," HOYS league president Tim Bell said. "Our season opener for all teams is April 27."
The third-annual "fling" had a 10U division where the Schererville Bombers defeated HOYS in the championship game.
The next tournament HOYS will host is the World Series on Aug. 9-16.
"What's nice is we're getting more and more response (for the World Series) from outside the immediate area," Bell said.