Pop fly: Collin Kjarsgaard, 5, and his sister, Kate, 6, keep their eye on a ball tossed by their father, Joal, prior to the start of a t-ball game between the Pirates and the Cubs Saturday at The Park in Forest Park. David Pierini/staff photographer

The 2014 Little League season got off to a rousing start with flags and festivities under cool sunny skies. At 11:00 AM, a representative of Currie Chevrolet of Forest Park started things off by presenting a $500 check to support Little League. Other Little League sponsors were also recognized; including The Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor, Bernie’s Saw & Supply, Inc., Mohr Oil and many others. 

Park Commissioner Roy Sansone filled in for an ailing Mayor Calderone by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.  Ryan Russ followed with a spirited rendition of the National Anthem. After all the teams and players were introduced, it was time to “Play Ball!”

The first game featured two Minor Teams: Boom Maroon v. Navy Mohr Oil. (Rather than using the names of major league teams, teams are now identified by a color and their sponsor.) Katie Novak, age 3, brought out the baseballs to the umpire, Marcus O’Neal, while her big brother Matt Novak took the mound for the Boom Maroon.

Novak struck out several batters but Nathan Blazenko was even more effective pitching for Navy Mohr Oil. Nathan Canada managed to hit a triple off Blazenko but was stranded at third. Despite the cold conditions, it was a well-played ballgame. For example, Navy’s Evan Braniff got into a pickle trying to score from third. Nick Tricoci and Nolan Morris executed the rundown play perfectly to get him.

There were also some mishaps in the field, as Navy’s catcher Kyle Banren collided with his pitcher trying to catch T. J. Johnson’s popup. They showed their toughness by eventually getting back up and staying in the game. Meanwhile, Johnson was solid at catcher and later came into pitch relief.

The game was tight throughout, with Navy taking a narrow lead. In the final inning, Novak hit a dramatic home run to tie the game. Because other teams were waiting to play, it was decided to end the game “fair and square” in an 8-8 tie.

As the players persevered in the cold, family and friends were treated to warm hot dogs and hamburgers. The Dugout Café also reopened selling chips and drinks. By 4:00 PM, the last game ended. Players and fans alike were thoroughly thrilled and chilled.