116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Before life in the pros, the lofty prospect status and even loftier million-dollar contract signing bonus, there was the Little League World Series. Or as Randal Grichuk calls it, the highlight of his baseball career so far.
“I remember everything about it,” the Cedar Rapids Kernels outfielder said after he helped his team to a 6-2 win Sunday afternoon over Peoria at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “The fans, the stadium, where you lived, The Grove (dormitory). The whole experience is just unforgettable. By far, the best experience I've ever had in baseball.”
The memories always start flooding back this time of year for him. The 65-year-old tournament in Williamsport, Pa., enters its fifth day of competition today.
Grichuk was an 11 and 12 year old for a Lamar (Texas) team that made it to the United States semifinals in 2003 and U.S. finals in 2004. That latter club placed third.
He remembered pitching, playing third base and outfield in 2003 but being relegated to first base in 2004 because of an injured arm. He and his Kernels teammates have been watching ESPN's extensive coverage of the event daily in their clubhouse.
“Saw Venezuela and Canada today,” said reliever Beau Brooks. “Man, Venezuela looks tough.”
“The good old days,” Grichuk said. “If you ever go there, you know what it's about, and you'll watch it the rest of your life ... It beats playing pro ball, I think, until you make it to the bigs, which is what the ultimate goal is, obviously. It's just a great experience. I think every Little Leaguer should be able to go through that.”
Grichuk went 2-for-3 with a double, triple and three RBIs for Cedar Rapids (23-32 second half), which won a third straight.
Francis Larson homered and former University of
Brian Hernandez had two hits and drove in two for the Kernels, who remained seven games behind
Clinton for the second and final available second-half playoff spot in the Western Division.