[Photo provided by Glossy Finish.]
Two other St. Charles groups also got an up close view of baseball immortality.
The Knights and Saints 12U travel baseball teams travel to Cooperstown, N.Y., which is where the MLB Hall of Fame is located. The program has been going there for about 11 years.
Cooperstown offers two experiences, All-Star Village and Dreams Park. The travel program opts for the Village route, a tournament of about 50 teams from all over the country.
"There's not many week-long tournaments back then, and this was the one to go to...especially for 12 [year-olds]," St. Charles travel baseball president Jim Laskowski said.
The 14U teams take the trip to Myrtle Beach, and have been going there for about eight to 10 years. Each registered team gets at least six guaranteed games to play.
At the "Surf's Up" tournament, the Saints team took first place in the turn-2 relay skills competition. The North Stars placed third – only about a second behind the first place time – and the Saints also won their first game versus the Spikes from Kansas, 6-0.
"Myrtle Beach is more like a last hurrah for the travel teams," said Laskowski, as the teams eventually move on to their respective high schools.
"The most exciting aspect [is] just being there with your team," said Pieper, who pitched about three innings with five strikeouts during North's 2-1 victory over the Vaughan Vikings (Canada).
"Win or lose, when it comes down to it, it's just really fun to play [at the facilities]. When you win, it's the icing on the cake...it's a great time," Pieper continued.
The travel baseball program is a competitive experience that supports both high schools. Registration for the 2019 season was announced a week ago. For specific dates for tryouts, based on age level, visit stctravelbaseball.com.