Flashback went back-to-back at the 43rd Annual 16-inch No Glove Nationals Softball Tournament, hosted by the Park District of Forest Park. The defending champions rolled to an impressive 12-6 win over the Roadrunners Sunday night, in a rematch between last year’s finalists.
The Roadrunners were vying, for the second straight summer, to become the first-ever Forest Park Softball League team to win the tournament. But, Flashback, once again dashed those dreams. The champs quickly seized a 5-0 lead after two innings. During that inning, Flashback’s Denny Lawlor crushed a triple that scored 2010 No Gloves MVP Anthony Tyler. First baseman Max Sakellaris, a former OPRF football star, added an RBI single. Ralph Lawrence, Nick Marchese and winning pitcher Jeff Hernandez also drove in runs during the productive frame.
In the top of the fifth, Flashback (5-0 for tournament) tacked on three runs as Jake Olsen and Tyler laced key RBI singles extending their lead to 9-0. Meanwhile, Hernandez held the Roadrunners’ potent, speed-based attack scoreless through five innings.
“I just want to keep us in games,” Hernandez said. “If we make one or two errors, I try not to compound it by giving up a bunch of hits. I’m proud of our team. These guys are my boys.”
The Roadrunners finally showed signs of life in the sixth inning scoring three runs. Top of the order threats Nate Mercado and Erik Niedzela smacked a triple and double, respectively, to plate a pair of runs. Catcher John Robinson chipped in a run-scoring single to make it 9-3. With a runner on first and no outs, the Roadrunners’ short-lived momentum was squashed on a 4-6-3 double play.
Flashback scored three runs in their half of the seventh to make the score 12-3, but the Roadrunners mustered one more push in their final at-bats. Second baseman Joe Napoli hit a two-RBI double and a sac fly whittled the margin to 12-6 before Flashback collected two more outs to secure the coveted No Glove Nationals championship.
Flashback veteran John Westermeyer earned this year’s No Glove Nationals MVP award. The sweet-swinging third baseman hit over .500 (9 for 17) with two RBIs, five runs scored and a .786 slugging percentage for the tournament.
“It’s an honor to be chosen MVP at the best softball tournament around,” Westermeyer said. “My teammates are such a phenomenal group of guys. I’ve never had as much fun playing with a team as this one. It wasn’t always easy [this weekend], but we hung in there, got a little lucky and played well enough to win in the end.”
While the Roadrunners’ championship bid fell short again (they finished 4-2 at this year’s tournament), team members enjoy their tight-knit squad and also look forward to the future.
“I love playing with these guys,” Roadrunners short-centerfielder Rob Rodriguez said. “We all hang out together and we’re like family. I think if we add a few pieces, we can continue to be a great team. Hopefully we’ll win [No Glove Nationals title] in the future.”
The five-day softball extravaganza was also successful both on and off the field. No Glove softball fans, families, friends and neighbors enjoyed the delicious food and drinks, excellent level of play and community camaraderie.
“The No Glove Nationals is my favorite weekend of the year,” said Larry Piekarz, the tournament director the park’s executive director. “So many people volunteer and help out to make our tournament so special. It’s really nice to see people come out, have fun, enjoy all the amenities of the park, and watch some great softball.”