This prep baseball tournament, taking place this week at UIC, is a tale of four cities

Team Chicago opens with a victory in the inaugural GEICO Baseball City Series, with Thursday’s final to be televised on ESPNU.

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Member of Team Chicago

Members of Team Chicago watch the action during the team’s game against Team New York on Monday at Curtis Granderson Field at UIC.

Lani Tons | Who’s Next Chicago

Top high school baseball players from the Public League have teamed up to represent the city this week against teams from New York, Miami and Los Angeles in the inaugural GEICO Baseball City Series.

The championship and third-place games are Thursday at Curtis Granderson Field at UIC and will be broadcast on ESPNU. 

Team Chicago is looking to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Not many kids get to play on national television, and it will be a great experience,” said Chicago center fielder Robert Walker III, who will be a senior at Kenwood. ‘‘My whole family is going to be watching, so it’s an honor.”

While players on Team Chicago have been spreading the word to friends and family on their impending national TV appearance, they are just as excited to play and compare themselves to players from other cities.

“Chicago baseball has a different style of play,” Chicago catcher Dennis Barber said. “We aren’t power hitters. We run a lot, we play a lot of small ball, and we have a chance to showcase this style of play to a national audience.”

Barber, who will be a senior at Jones College Prep, is also looking forward to sharing a dugout with players he has competed against for years.

“I feel like playing against each other all these years makes us blend together better as a team,” Barber said.

Despite Team Chicago’s familiarity with one another, the team only has been practicing together for the last two weeks. As a result, Chicago coach Dave Rosene views this tournament as a great litmus test for his players. 

“This tournament is about proving that we deserve as much as any other team, and about showing that urban baseball can be really good,” Rosene said. “I want my players to know they can compete against anyone in the country, and this is their chance to do it.”

The team played its first game Monday and used its small-ball approach while capitalizing on some crucial errors to come away with an 8-5 victory against Team New York.

“In the end this tournament is bigger than just the game of baseball,” Team Chicago third-base coach Benjamin Rosengard said. “Not only is it the opportunity to connect with other kids from three different cities that you wouldn’t have otherwise met, but they have a chance to represent the city of Chicago, which is a great honor.”

Despite the responsibility associated with representing the city, this team has one goal in mind. “We came here to win, hands down,” Rosengard said.

Team Chicago plays Team Miami at 2 p.m. Tuesday and Team Los Angeles at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Games are at Curtis Granderson Field and admission is free.

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