Move over, MLB sluggers Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and J.D. Martinez, there’s a new home-run king. Sweet-swinging Carl Verde won the home-run derby during the Oak Park-River Forest PONY League Baseball 2018 All-Star Games at Lindberg Park on June 30.

The schedule of events included the 13-U and 14-U all-star games and awards presented to MVP, sportsmanship and all-star honorees. Players in the league come from Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Elmwood Park, Galewood and Cicero.

An award was also presented to retiring OPRF PONY League board member Jim Allen, who has dedicated considerable time and effort to the community over the years. Allen is the outgoing PONY interim president.

“Our All-Star Day was a huge success,” said board member John Robinson. “We gave out team MVP awards, Team Sportsman awards, sponsor plaques, a Community Volunteer Award (Cliff Beringer), and honored Jim Allen with the Merritt Lovett Award.”

The MVPs (1 per team) are: Kellan Billadeau (Coplan & Crane), Owen Detmer (Kelty Lawn Care), Cameron Corvo (Kolovitz Movers), Thomas Wangelin (ICOMM), Calvin Roe (Oak Park Township), League MVP Cole Shamhart (Community Bank), Mikey Scelfo (Breit and Johnson) and John Minich (Forest Park National Bank).

The sportsmanship award winners are Jackson Elza (Coplan & Crane), Knox Lingenfelter (Kelty Lawn Care), Patrick Crilly (Kolovitz Movers), Reid Wilson (ICOMM), Zephy Roe (Oak Park Township), Jack Friker (Community Bank), Aleks Saame (Forest Park National Bank), DJ Cintron (Breit and Johnson), Jack Lenehan (Breit and Johnson).

In the all-star games, the American League edged the National League 6-4 at the 13-U level. In the 14-U game, the National League outslugged the American League 12-8. Peter Kenoian and John Minich were chosen as MVP for the 13-U and 14-U games, respectively.

The 13-U all-stars are (American League) Frankie Filice, Charlie Folker, Drew McConville, Peter Kenoian, JJ Kuenster, Ezra Stukel, Roman Pantazopoulos, Ethan Neuner, Hank Babwin, Aaron Smeaton, Zach Dahhan, Nolan Vitale and Corvo; (National League) Nate Bibbey, Gordy Hunter, Bobby Kilburg, Jack Culliton, Dante Stukel, William Leshnock, Thomas Smith, Clayton Baird, Tyler Davis, Simon Wellner, Lenehan, Crilly and Scelfo.

The 14-U all-stars are (American League) Chris Hedrich, JJ Curley, Noah Friesen, Sebastian Ripley-Aguilar, Conor Paris, Owen Shepherd, TJ Johnson, Reid Butterly, Danny Scholvin, Wangelin, Minich and Detmer; (National League) Calvin Roe, EJ Locke, Martin Paris, Jake Beaver, Luca Lissuzzo, Cason Daily, Jack Willsey, Lou Leonardi, Matt Butterly, Kyle Dickens, Verde, Shamhart and Billadeau.

Oak Park PONY Baseball has teams that play in the North Suburban Youth Baseball Association League. With 52 teams in the league, three of the four semifinalist teams in the year-end tourney were Oak Park PONY teams. Breit and Johnson defeated ICOMM 5-4 in the championship game.

“In other news our 13-U travel team, The Pack, has just qualified to play in the PONY World Series in Whittier, California (July 26-30),” Robinson said. “Our travel program is just in its second year so we are very excited about it.”

Ruairi O’Connor, who played baseball at OPRF and collegiately at Florida State, is the head coach of the league’s travel teams

PONY stands for Protect Our Nation’s Youth.

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...