Local baseball player returns from Italy as champion
If this is the end of Robert Lewis' baseball career, then he picked one heck of a way to go out.
Lewis, a 2006 Basehor-Linwood High School graduate, closed out his summer baseball schedule by playing in a three-day international tournament in Italy. Robert is the grandson of Walter and Shirley Lewis of Tonganoxie.
Lewis' team, which mostly comprised players from Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wyoming, won the tournament. The U.S. squad beat out four teams from Italy and the Netherlands for the trophy earlier this month.
"It was awesome to just be over there and participate because there's not many people who get the chance to go overseas and play ball," Lewis said.
During the tournament, Lewis adopted the nickname "Lights Out" for not allowing a run through five innings of work throughout the tournament.
"If I don't ever get to play competitively again, this is a good way to end it," Lewis said.
The tournament, arranged by Olathe-based non-profit organization USA Athletes International, took place in Arezzo, Italy.
Lewis didn't go searching for the chance to play internationally. Instead, the opportunity found him. Lewis attended a senior showcase baseball camp last October at Kansas University. Nothing came of it, or so he thought. Then, in December, he received a phone call from a representative of USAAI.
"At first I kind of thought it was a scam, just some guy wanting to get money," Lewis said. "I gave the phone to my dad, and he started talking to him. Then we got some more information and started reading more about it online. It looked legit and looked like it would be a lot of fun."
Lewis said he jumped at the opportunity for a few reasons. The main one, he said, was that he had never been