Charlie Wizgird stepped to the plate looking to do some damage.
The Windy City Brewers second baseman had already strung together a solid day in the West Suburban Baseball League (WSBL) AA championship, reaching base three times and scoring 2 runs.
However, now there was a little more pressure and a lot more on the line.
With the game locked up at 6 in extra innings, Wizgird delivered, hitting a screamer to short that found the outfield grass to score Charlie Dunneback from second for the eventual game-winning run.
Windy City shut down Warrenville in the bottom half to close out a thrilling 7-6 win in 12 innings on July 13 to win the WSBL AA championship at Village Green Park in Glen Ellyn.
“I was focused on getting a single, any hit to score the runner,” Wizgird said. “That’s what I was able to do. It was a fastball, inside a little bit. I wanted to stay calm. It was a good line drive.”
The Windy City team is a first-year program based out of Kennedy Park, comprised of players from both KP Little League and Ridge Beverly Little League.
The Brewers played a fall ball schedule in 2020 as a team test run and then jumped into a busy, normal schedule this spring and summer.
Looking to add games against some new teams, Windy City Coach Matt Winkler heard about the WSBL from a friend. Started in 2015, the league consists of age-grouped teams from across Chicago and the suburbs.
“We were looking for another outlet for some more games besides Illinois travel baseball,” Winkler said. “We jumped in our first year and made the championship. We’re the first team from Chicago to win it in league history.”
The Brewers scored 2 runs in the seventh to force extras.
Each inning in extras starts with one out, a runner at second and each count begins with a 1-1 count.
Neither team could score a runner through 4 innings until Wizgird’s heroics in the 12th frame.
The hard-hit RBI single put Windy City up 7-6.
“We work hard, and we never really give up as a team,” Wizgird said. “We kept our heads in the game and made some good plays in the field. We’re all friends, and we all play really well together.”
Working with the lead, Quinn Nolan fired 2 strikeouts in the bottom half of the inning to preserve the win.
“I felt pretty good,” Nolan said. “I’m just trying to throw strikes. I was trying to heat up my arm a little bit and get them swinging at pitches even though it isn’t a strike.”
Nolan retired the last batter who swung on a high fastball.
The victory was a team effort for the Brewers with all nine players delivering clutch plays.
At shortstop, Dunneback closed out the ninth by fielding a pop-up and then the 10th and 11th with groundouts. He also added a RBI.
“This means so much to us,” Dunneback said. “I’m so happy we did what we did. We worked hard all year as a team. [Defensively], I try to stay calm and keep thinking about making the next play. I do everything I can to make a play.”
Entering the game in the eighth, Garrett Mann threw three shutout frames with 2 walks and 4 strikeouts.
Doing his best to ignore the runner at second to start the inning, Mann just zeroed in on home plate.
“I was just thinking about the strikes that I need to get those strikeouts and push through the inning,” Mann said. “I felt good. I was confident. It’s cool to combine KP and RB and already win a championship.”
The Brewers delivered late for the win, but the championship seemed in doubt after a rough defensive fourth inning that featured 2 errors and a misplayed ball on an outfield pop-up.
Warrenville scored 4 runs to go up 5-4 and added another run in the sixth.
However, Windy City provided a response in the seventh. Wizgird led off with a walk and advanced to second on a Marty Nitsche fielder’s choice.
Will Walsh hit a missile to center for a RBI double to score Wizgird and cut the 2-run deficit in half.
“The first pitch was a low strike, but I didn’t think it was a strike at all,” Walsh said. “That second pitch was right down the middle. The center fielder went back, so I put my head down and ran. It felt really good.”
Third baseman Danny Killeen followed up with a hard-hit liner through the left side to score courtesy runner Nitsche from second to tie the game.
The Brewers roster includes Stephen Winkler (2 hits, run), Wizgird (2 hits, 2 runs), Nitsche (RBI), Walsh (3 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBI), Killeen (RBI), Mann (run), Jacob Murdoch, Nolan, Dunneback, Cullen Winter and Thomas Sosinski.
Nitsche also struck out 6 in 3 innings of work. Windy City pitchers combined to strike out 19 Warrensville batters.
Windy City finished the season 37-12.
Winkler is assisted by Dan Killeen and Andy Walsh.
Winkler said he is proud of the team’s ability to bounce back.
“We tell them all year that baseball is a game of opportunity,” Winkler said. “You’re going to fail more than you succeed, but be ready for the next opportunity. When we needed it, guys did their job. Their opportunity came, and they rose to the occasion.”