Tony Hubbard wished he'd been able to bring a full team to the American Amateur Baseball Congress' West-Central regional tournament.
Still, Hubbard and his Illinois state champion Chicago A's semi-pro team advanced to the tournament's championship game, where they fell to the hosting Maupintour Travellers, 16-2, on a wet Saturday night at KU's Hoglund-Maupin Stadium.
"This team's been through a lot of adversity," Hubbard said. "But we're just here to have fun. After the game, you've got to remember it's just a baseball game.
"We lost two to injury early in the season our starting third baseman and our starting first baseman. We lost two pitchers and two catchers to the draft. It's tough to lose 'em, but if they don't make it, they've always got a place to play."
ROD CHANEY, the winning pitcher in the Travellers' first game Saturday night, said pitching depth played a crucial role in winning the title. Chaney worked four innings, allowing three hits and no runs, as Maupintour defeated the Northbrook, Ill., Hornets, 6-4, to earn the championship berth.
"At one point this season," Chaney said, "we had 12 guys, and they could all pitch. I think that gave us an advantage over some other teams."
Hubbard agreed. The Travellers, who received a first-round bye after Hopkins, Minn., declined an invitation, used just six pitchers in the three-day tourney.
Steve McGinness won the title game by allowing two runs off seven hits over seven innings.
"Pitching is very important," Hubbard said. "Having the Minnesota team drop out really helped them. Everybody else had to play the first round, but they (Maupintour) could use their No. 1 guy in the second game. We only have five, six guys that can throw."
ROD RUSH went 3-for-5 with two doubles and one RBI in the semifinal contest with the Hornets. Rod Steiner and John Byrn each contributed two hits and two RBI.
"In the eighth inning, they (Northbrook) had a rally, and a hit could have tied it," Chaney said. "But we got out of it. That was a crucial point for me. I like to pitch with pressure on me like that. I enjoy getting the adrenaline going."
McGinness felt no such pressure in the title game. The Travellers jumped to a 3-0 lead and stretched it to 11-2 after three innings. The game was halted after seven innings because of the run rule.
"Our pitching depth really helped us," Travellers skipper Walt Houk said. "We had three pitchers that didn't even get in the tournament. We had plenty of pitching left.
"THE HORNETS game really was the championship game. That game could have gone either way. It would have been tough to lose to them then get past them again."
Maupintour's Mark Hummel, the tournament's Most Valuable Hitter, went 3-for-5 in the title game and 12-for-19 for the tournament. Over three days, he collected a double, a triple, a home run and 12 RBI.
The A's advanced with a 10-5 semifinal win over Downers Grove, Ill., Saturday. Edwin Gilmore, went 4-for-5 with a double and three RBI.
"I think our hitting just got to Downers Grove," Hubbard said. "Sandy (Weissent, 6 innings, 7 hits, 5 earned runs) gave me more than six quality innings, and then I could bring in my main guy, Ernest Radcliffe."
The Travellers swept through the three-day tournament that began and ended in rain. After inclement weather forced the postponement of the scheduled start Wednesday, Maupintour quickly notched two run rule-shortened wins. Saturday's semifinal contest was the only regulation nine inning game for Maupintour.
The Travellers, undefeated in the tournament, improved to a team-high 40-8 record. They earned a berth to the AABC World Series, which begins Wednesday in Battle Creek, Mich. They'll open that tourney with a 7 p.m. game Wednesday against the hosts.
The A's finished the season 38-12. Chicago's David White was named the Most Valuable Pitcher after working nine complete innings and not allowing an earned run.