Click Here To See Bracket!
The 2014 Nationwide Conference USSSA season is underway! One of the big stories of the weekend was Baugh Ford/Doerflinger/National Pawn/Klutch Brand/Easton the 8th ranked team in the nation, as they won their first 5 games, 3 of which were against Conference opponents OC Swats 21-19, Laservision 31-29, and a run rule of Team Combat in the winner’s bracket championship game 37-22. In the Swats and Laservision games the infield defense of JD Genter, Brad Reckart, and Jeff Flood was a big part of it. And Baugh Ford did better than the major teams at base hitting and home run management.
However, Laservision “did work” in the loser’s bracket by taking their frustration out on H. Auto LLC/Easton/Hooters when they scored 26 runs before the first out was made in the top of the 1st inning and were winning 35-0 after the top half. Laservision made quick work of H. Auto 49-10. You might remember it was H. Auto that shocked the softball world a year ago by knocking off Laservision at the 2013 Hall of Fame Classic. And to add to the intrigue, Bob Hortenbach is a sponsor on both teams. Pay back?
Laservision then made quick work of a feisty Classic Glass/Easton team 24-9 late on Saturday night to set up a potential run for the championship on Sunday. On Sunday the first Major vs Major team matchup of the season started at 9 AM when #2 ranked Laservision met Team Combat/Softball.com, the #4 ranked Major team in the nation. Combat jumped out to a big 17-1 lead after 1.5 innings on the strength of 8 Home Runs (Greinert (2), Graus (2), and Cox, Rogowski, and Bilardello all chipped in 1 each). Can you feel the “but” coming? But Laservision hung tough like a big time team should and scored the next 27 runs of the game in the bottom of the 2nd and 3rd inning. Steven Lloyd, Mike Umschied, Travis Clark, Brett Helmer, Dale Brungardt, and Umschied again all hit homers in the 2nd to close the gap to 17-13. Then in the words of one Laservision player “there’s the bagel that we needed”, as Laservision shut down Team Combat in the top of the 3rd inning and came in and used yet another Mike Umschied homer, this time a grand slam with two outs to tie the game at 17-17. The slam was followed by a Helmer bases loaded 3 run double followed by a Brungardt 3 run homer and the next thing you knew Laservision had a 15 run 3rd and a 28-17 lead. In the top of the 4th Laservision middle infielder Kevin Bazat playing up close to the second base bag with runners on 1st and 2nd and no outs, fielded a hard grounder – reached out and nearly tagged the runner going to third but missed, then stepped on the bag at second and threw to first for the DP. The wind was now out of the Team Combat sails and they put up a second “bagel” and Laservision ended it in the bottom of the 5th on a Travis Clark walk off run rule homer.
That pushed Laservision to the championship game against Baugh Ford who they would have to beat twice. Laservision did look fresh even though they were playing their 8th game of the tournament. Baugh Ford came out in the top of the first and picked up where they left off on Saturday by scoring 6 runs on just one homer (Kyle Pearson). In the bottom of the 1st Brett Helmer hit a high fly to right field by the fence that Brad Blankenship lost in the sun (which was really bad) and it hit him in the head. Luckily Brad was alright but came out of the game. That “double off the dome” led to a 4 run inning after a Dale Brungardt 2 run homer and a Steven Lloyd solo. In the top of the 2nd Jeff Flood soloed for Baugh Ford before Laservision turned a Brungardt-Bazat-Baker “around the horn” double play to keep the Laservision deficit at 3. In the bottom of the 2nd Umschied soloed, Reyna and Clark got hits, and Brett Helmer who was on fire on Sunday hit a home run. Lloyd then doubled and Dillon hit a 3 run homer later in the inning to give Laservision a 14-7 lead. In the 3rd inning McDonald, Pearson, and Payton had rbi hits to close the gap to 14-12 for Baugh Ford, but Laservision scored the last 18 runs and again won on a Travis Clark walk off run rule homer 32-12 to force an “if” necessary game.
In the final game Baugh Ford again lost the coin toss but came out firing with 7 runs in the first on a bomb over the net by Donovan Pokraka and a Brad Blankenship line drive homer. In the bottom of the inning Helmer homered, Kevin Bazat hit a grand slam, and Laservision tied it at 7-7 on a bases loaded triple by Brian Wegman. In the 3rd inning Kyle Pearson, Billy Barrett, and Chris Larsen hit multi run homers to give Baugh Ford an 18-15 lead. The inning was cut short when Laservision pitcher Travis Clark got drilled by a line drive but had the presence of mind to stay with the ricochet and get a big out. The momentum shifted for good for Laservision when Brett Helmer hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 3rd inning giving them a 24-18 lead. Baugh got 2 runs in the top of the 4th but Laservision smelled blood and a run rule in the bottom half. They got a grand slam from Travis Clark, a 2 run homer from Helmer, a 3 run homer from Dillon, and a walk off 2 run double by Bryson Baker to win it 36-20!
In the final 8, Sonny’s got off to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning on 4 The Fallen but incredibly Sonny’s made a rash of defensive errors and Fallen took advantage of that and scored the last 26 runs of the game to win 26-5. Team Combat over powered H. Auto 36-18 although H. Auto played fairly well. Baugh Ford left the door open against OC Swats but Swats came up short 21-19 in the bottom of the 7th. And Laservision 20 run ruled Classic Glass.The tournament began on Friday night with most of the favorites winning both of their games in the 32 team field. Tats N Bats a ‘C’ team out of southern California knocked off CSC 21-19 then left home runs on the table against Team Combat in a close 33-29 loss. TAC/TWC from northern California knocked off the new JTF/Louisville Slugger Conference team 26-20. In the second round, Sonny’s knocked off AZM 32-26, 4 The Fallen struggled some but won a matchup with a local ‘D’ team called Infamous 32-26, H. Auto beat fellow Conference ‘B’ team Midwest Hearing 25-10, and OC Swats, Baugh Ford, Classic Glass, and Laservision all moved on without incident.
In the final 4, Baugh Ford beat Laservision as discussed with the wind gusting out over on the Anaheim field 31-29. And Team Combat run ruled 4 The Fallen 31-16.
In the loser’s bracket Conference teams AZM, Midwest Hearing, and JTF/Louisville Slugger could not muster a quality win. West Coast Newbreed/Worth ran off 3 straight before losing to Sonny’s. OC Swats jumped out to a huge lead on TAC/TWC using up all of their homer’s and TAC came back and sent home OC Swats 28-26 on a Rick Cornu? walk off homer. Classic Glass knocked off MyAutoJack.com, TAC/TWC, and crushed 4 The Fallen 28-5? before losing to Laservision late Saturday night. And H. Auto came from 7 runs down in the bottom of the 7th with 2 homers left and scored 8 runs without recording an out. The final 3 on a walk off homer by Brandon Newman!
The tournament was played in near perfect weather and the winds were blowing in on all of the main fields except for Anaheim where the scores and games were taking longer to play due to the strong wind going out. There was full bat bucket testing (a record number of bats failed on Friday). Bats were retested if they hit a pitcher and the conference Dudley Classic M-ZN ball was used. There were 32 teams total from 12 different states and there were 11 Conference teams in attendance. This was also a “4 point” event when it comes to totaling Conference points.
Article: Dale Weiser
The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), headquartered in Osceola County, Florida, USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA News!