The Cedar Ridge Little League of Chicago on Wednesday night became the ninth team to qualify for this year’s Senior League World Series.
The Illinois team defeated Grand Rapids, Mich., 7-3 to win the U.S. Central championship after defeating Holmes County, Ohio, 7-0 in a semifinal earlier in the day.
Cedar Ridge went 3-1 in preliminary-round play to emerge as a semifinalist from the nine-team field assembled in Peru, Ill.
The Chicago squad will play its first SLWS Pool B game at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor at 2:30 p.m. Sunday against Latin America champion Chitre, Herrera, Panama.
Canada is slated to crown its SLWS representative Thursday night in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Semifinals scheduled earlier in the day matched District 1 of Saskatchewan against Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and Valleyfield, Quebec, against host Thunder Bay.
The Canadian winner will play Maine District 3 champion Bangor in the opening game of the SLWS at noon Sunday.
The nine visiting teams for this year’s Senior League World Series will begin arriving in Bangor late Friday afternoon, with the U.S. Central team from Chicago and the U.S. East contingent from Kennett Square, Pa., expected to be the first to arrive while the final teams will reach their tournament destination after midnight.
Seven teams will fly into Boston’s Logan Airport before busing the rest of the way to Bangor, while the Europe & Africa representatives from Emilia, Italy, will fly into the Portland International Jetport after stopovers in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Dulles International Airport just outside Washington, D.C.
The Kennett Square, Pa., team also had been slated to fly into Boston, but a change of plans encouraged by SLWS executive director Mike Brooker has resulted in that team getting a Cyr Bus Lines motorcoach ride for its entire trip to the Queen City.
“The original plan was for them to bus from South Jersey to LaGuardia, fly from there to Boston and then we were going to send a bus to them there,” said Brooker. “But I explained to Little League that they can bus straight here quicker and not have the hassle of checking in at an airport and then getting out of Logan.
“Little League was exploring bus company options, and Cyr Bus Lines has always been good for us and I talked them into letting us do it through Cyr,” Brooker said.
That bus ride is expected to take 10 hours, with an additional two hours built in for stops along the route.
“It’s the same amount of time,” Brooker said. “But you avoid the hassles of getting into LaGuardia and then everything else that could go wrong with something like a delayed flight.”
A Cyr bus left the Bangor area at 7 a.m. Thursday, with the driver to stay overnight before picking up the team at 7 a.m. Friday.
“We expect them up here about 7 o’clock [Friday] night,” Brooker said.
The two pools for this year’s Senior League World Series have been shuffled, with three teams from each of last year’s divisions switched.
Only host Maine District 3 and Canada, which traditionally play the opening game of pool play at noon Sunday of tournament week, have been carried over into this year’s five-team Pool A. They will be joined by representatives of Asia-Pacific (Makati City, Philippines), U.S. Southeast (Martinez, Ga.) and U.S. West (Pearl City, Hawaii).
Europe & Africa (Emilia, Italy) and Latin America (Chitre, Herrera, Panama) remain in Pool B from a year ago, joined by the U.S. Central (Chicago), U.S. Southwest (Laredo, Texas) and U.S. East (Kennett Square, Pa.).
The 2013 pools will be the same as the tournament had from 2004 through 2009.
“We juggle the pools to have different matchups so it’s not always the same routine from year to year, and that was a suggestion from Little League,” Brooker said. “But I do want to maintain the Maine-Canada matchup because I think it’s a great opening game.”
Opening ceremonies for this year’s Senior League World Series are scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Saturday. The event, to be held at Mansfield Stadium, will include recognition of all 2013 Maine District 3 champions, a parade of the 10 Senior League World Series teams and a fireworks show. Admission is free.