2002 Little League® Baseball Great Lakes Region Tournament
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Great Lakes Region Tournament

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Great Lakes Region Tournament
Host - Central Region Headquarters; Indianapolis, Indiana
At Stokely Field; Reuben F. Glick Little League Center

Participating Teams City League
Illinois State Champions Bourbonnais Bradley-Bourbonnais American LL
Indiana State Champions Brownsburg Brownsburg LL
Kentucky State Champions Louisville Valley Sports American LL
Michigan State Champions Grosse Pointe Farms Grosse Pointe Farms-City LL
Ohio State Champions Hamilton West Side American LL
Wisconsin State Champions Merrill Merrill LL

NOTE: The 2002 Great Lakes Region Tournament used a two-phase tournament format. Each participating team played four games in a round-robin schedule, and the top four teams then advanced to single-elimination semifinal and championship round games.

Click here to view State Tournament results for Great Lakes Region Tournament participants.

Tournament Results:

Saturday, August 3:
Brownsburg (Indiana) 6, Merrill (Wisconsin) 0
Valley Sports American (Kentucky) 5, Hamilton West Side American (Ohio) 0

Sunday, August 4:
Hamilton West Side American 9, Grosse Pointe Farms-City (Michigan) 7
Bradley-Bourbonnais American (Illinois) 10, Merrill (Wisconsin) 3

Monday, August 5:
Valley Sports American (Kentucky) 2, Bradley-Bourbonnais American (Illinois) 1
Grosse Pointe Farms-City (Michigan) 6, Brownsburg (Indiana) 0

Tuesday, August 6:
Valley Sports American (Kentucky) 4, Merrill (Wisconsin) 1
Brownsburg (Indiana) 5, Hamilton West Side American (Ohio) 4

Wednesday, August 7:
Bradley-Bourbonnais American (Illinois) 5, Grosse Pointe Farms-City (Michigan) 2
Hamilton West Side American (Ohio) 9, Merrill (Wisconsin) 2

Thursday, August 8:
Brownsburg (Indiana) 2, Bradley-Bourbonnais American (Illinois) 0
Valley Sports American (Kentucky) 3, Grosse Pointe Farms-City (Michigan) 1



Valley Sports American (Kentucky) 4 0 3
Brownsburg (Indiana) 3 1 10
Bradley-Bourbonnais American (Illinois) 2 2 9
Hamilton West Side American (Ohio) 2 2 19
Grosse Pointe Farms-City (Michigan) 1 3 17
Merrill (Wisconsin) 0 4 29

Ties are broken based on records in head-to-head competition among tied teams. In the event of a three-way tie, the initial tie is broken based on fewest runs allowed per defensive inning played. The tie between the remaining two teams is then broken based on head-to-head record.

Semifinal Round:

Brownsburg (Indiana) 5, Bradley-Bourbonnais American (Illinois) 3
Valley Sports American (Kentucky) 2, Hamilton West Side American (Ohio) 1

Great Lakes Region Championship Game:

Valley Sports American (Kentucky) 8, Brownsburg (Indiana) 1 (TITLE)


"This will never work."

Valley Sports American Little League all-star coach Dan Roach is not a man who minces words. After seeing his team's efforts at their first practice on June 16, Roach turned to manager Troy Osborne and offered his blunt assessment.

"Our defense was atrocious," explained Troy Osbourne. "We didn't touch a bat for the first eight or ten days of practice."

Troy Osbourne's team got better. A lot better. Barely two months after Valley Sports stumbled through its first practice, Sendai Higashi Little League (Japan) manager Kazutomo Takahashi took note of the Kentucky team's drills and poise in their opening round win over Aptos Little League (Northern California) at the Little League World Series, and offered his own opinion.

Though sixteen teams were just beginning to battle in the tournament, the Japanese manager approached Troy Osbourne in the International Grove complex at Little League Baseball headquarters and simply said, "We're going to play you in the finals."

The states in the Great Lakes region hadn't produced a World Series finalist in 30 years, but Takahashi was prophetic. Valley Sports American won the U.S. championship, and then defeated Sendai Higashi 1-0 in the championship game of the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

To reach the Little League World Series, Valley Sports American first had to capture the Great Lakes Region championship in Indianapolis. The Kentucky state champions won six consecutive games to claim the tournament title, including an 8-1 drubbing of defending region champion Brownsburg Little League (Indiana) in the championship game.

Aaron Alvey and Zach Osbourne led the way for Kentucky in the championship game, as they had done all summer long. Alvey, a burly 5'7" right-hander who tipped the scales at an imposing 175 pounds, threw a four-hitter and struck out fourteen batters to pick up his second win of the tournament. Alvey allowed three consecutive hits with one out in the first inning, but ended the threat with two quick strikeouts and then allowed only one hit the rest of the way.

"We had to play catch-up to the gas tonight," said Brownsburg manager Rick Green after game. "We had seen breaking ball pitchers up to this point, but we ran into a pitcher that overpowered us."

Alvey, whose fastball reached 78 miles per hour, also contributed at the plate, singling and scoring in a three-run third inning that broke the game open and later ripping a solo home run.

Zach Osbourne, who also won two games in the tournament, scored Valley Sports' first two runs. The shortstop doubled and scored in the first, and then led off the third inning with his third home run of the tournament.

"Those are the two guys who make it happen, on the mound and with their sticks," said Troy Osbourne. "They are our leaders, no question."

In the initial days after Valley Sports' all-star team was formed, it didn't look like much was going to happen.

"I would love to have videotaped that first practice so I could show it to the kids now," said coach Keith Elkins. "They would all be like 'no way, that's not me. It can't be me.'"

"Every game you could just see them getting better and better," said Troy Osbourne. "Everything just came down to how hard these guys worked. They put everything they had on the field."

Valley Sports' work ethic was evident from the start. The team practiced up to five hours per day during the week, with longer sessions on the weekend.

"My son would be ready for bed as soon as he got home," recalled Troy Alvey, Aaron's father.

The practice paid off. Valley Sports, which returned only Alvey and Zach Osbourne from a team that reached the semifinals of the Kentucky state tournament in 2001, worked its way through district and state tournament play, collecting eight shutouts and and outscoring opponents by an 89-6 margin in eleven games. Four of the six runs allowed came in a meaningless fourteen inning pool game at the state tournament against Owensboro Southern Little League after both teams had already clinched semifinal round berths.

Valley Sports American opened the region tournament with two quick wins. Alvey fired a three-hitter, Jacob Remines homered, and the Kentucky champions scored four times in the bottom of the first inning en route to a 5-0 victory over West Side American Little League (Hamilton, Ohio). The next day, Zach Osbourne took a no-hitter into the fifth before Bradley-Bourbonnais American (Illinois) rallied to take a brief 1-0 lead. Wes Jenkins singled home Ethan Henry to tie the game in the bottom of the inning, and Casey Jordan's based-loaded single in the sixth secured a second win for Valley Sports.

"Everyone told us that they had two great pitchers," said Illinois manager Keith Schweigert. "They showed it, too."

West Side American manager Ken Coomer, Jr. concurred.

"Kentucky was by far the best pitching team we've seen in any tournament . . . and the best defensive team," said Coomer.

Coomer's team faced Valley Sports twice, and had the misfortune of facing both Alvey and Zach Osbourne. Valley Sports' initial two wins essentially clinched a semifinal round berth, and gave Troy Osbourne the luxury of resting his two aces for the remainder of the tournament's round-robin phase.

Troy Osbourne then handed the ball to his son for the semifinal round rematch with Ohio. While West Side American averaged over ten runs per game in its other ten district, state, and regional tournament contests, the Ohio champions managed only one run in two games against Valley Sports American.

The one run came in the semifinals, and was almost enough to win. Hamilton pitcher Josh Phillips took a shutout into the fifth, and Ohio finally managed a run against Valley Sports when Nate Hubbard's double down the third-base line drove in Nick Hammons in the top of the fourth.

Zach Osbourne, who finished the game with thirteen strikeouts, fanned the side in both the fifth and sixth, and gave his team time to come back. Josh Robinson reached on an error to open the fifth, and Zach Osbourne doubled over the Ohio center fielder's head to tie the game.

Kentucky won it in the sixth. Henry drew a one-out walk, and moved to second on a passed ball. Justin Elkins then came to the plate for just the third time in the tournament. His grounder to the right side took a bad hop and ricocheted off the Ohio first baseman into right field. Henry scored, and Valley Sports American escaped with a 2-1 win.

"Ohio played a tremendous game, and they're a class-act team," said Troy Osbourne after the game. "(Phillips) pitched a great game and really kept us off-balance.

"We're just finding a way to win right now."

Valley Sports continued to find a way to win -- both in the next evening's region championship game and at the Little League World Series. After the Great Lakes champions swept their three pool opponents at the World Series, Alvey pitched nine hitless innings as Valley Sports outlasted Fort Worth Westside Little League (Texas West) 2-1 in eleven innings in the U.S. semifinals. Zach Osbourne followed up with a two-hitter as Valley Sports topped New England champion Jesse Burkett Little League (Worcester, Massachusetts) 4-0 in the U.S. championship game.

Alvey then completed Valley Sports' climb to the mountaintop, homering and pitching a four-hitter in the 1-0 win over Sendai Higashi in the Little League World Series championship game. The win was Kentucky's twenty-third straight victory of the summer.

Two months after "this will never work", Valley Sports American had worked -- and made it work -- all the way to the Little League World Series championship.


  Semifinal Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 R H E
Bradley-Bourbonnais American 0 2 0 0 1 0 3 6 -
Brownsburg 2 0 2 0 1 x 5 - -
  Semifinal Round
Hamilton West Side American 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 1
Valley Sports American 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 5 2
  Championship Game
Brownsburg 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 4 2
Valley Sports American 1 0 3 3 1 x 8 7 1

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Last revision: 05/14/2005