2017 Nationwide Conference USSSA
Championship Sunday with SIS/Thunder taking on Smash It/Scene in the finals
This year’s Nationwide Conference Championships were played as the first ever slow-pitch event at the new USSSA headquarters at the Space Coast Stadium Complex in Viera, Florida! The event was a great success as players got to play on the 5 all turf baseball fields for the first time with their 325-365-385-365-325 dimensions. The tournament used regular home run rules with 16 homers per team if the two teams playing were major level teams and 12 if at least one team was not major. The scores were pretty low and the fields played much longer than they looked as the opening game of the tournament at 3 PM Friday was a 7-3 SIS/Thunder (#3 Seed) win over Newbreed (#6 Seed). The game was tied 3-3 until late in the game the when SIS/Thunder went up 7-3 in the bottom of the 6th with the game winning RBI going to Neil Haglund on a double and another run scoring on a homer by Ryan Stovall, and Thunder held Newbreed scoreless in the top of the 7th. The first ever at bat in the new stadium was had by Newbreed center fielder Ryan Parfitt. The first ever hit was by Newbreeds Adam Rockoff, and the first ever home run was hit by SIS/Thunder infielder Josh Riley! The wind was blowing in for most of the Friday games which made runs hard to come by.
The second game of the championship which used a 3-game guarantee bracket was #2 Resmondo vs #7 Racks and the higher seeded team was automatically home team for each game in the tournament. Racks grabbed a 5-run lead in the top of the 2nd inning on a Ryan Mcclanahan RBI triple and Resmondo fought back with a 6-run bottom of the second behind the power of a Brett Helmer homer. Racks grabbed a 10-7 lead in the 4th on a homer by Conference Rookie of the Year Jordan Spaulding. When Resmondo put up a zero in the bottom of the 4th it looked like Racks might pull off an upset but they only increased their lead to 12-7 on a Stuart Snell homer and Resmondo homered in the 5th (Pearson) and 6th (Umschied) to cut the lead to 14-12. In the top of the 7th Racks went 1-2-3 and in the bottom of the inning Resmondo got 5 straight singles by Travis Clark, Bubba Mack, Scott Kirby, Brett Helmer, and a walk off single by Kevin Bazat after an intentional walk to Mike Umschied to win the game 15-14. The scary thing about it was Racks either got a glove on 4 of those hits or almost got a glove on them and some of them would have been a double play to end the game. Survive and advance is what Resmondo did.
In game #3 on Friday as the 90-degree temperatures began to give way to a beautiful evening it was #4 Dan Smith against #5 Worth Astros. Chad Mullins hit a solo homer in the 1st inning to put Worth Astros on the board but they didn't score again until the 5th. Meanwhile Dan Smith got two triples (Matusik and Guill) and two doubles (Bynum and Zirkle) in the bottom of the 2nd inning to go up 3-1. They added a Matusik homer in the 4th, and a sacrifice fly scored Chris Greinert who had tripled in the 6th and that was all Dan Smith needed to win 5-2. The wind was really affecting the scoring and home run production.
The final game of the 1st round was #1 Smash It/Scene vs #8 Nightmare/Miken. Nightmare got off to a 7-0 lead going into the bottom of the 3rd inning as Tommy Melton and pitcher Wes Newell homered amid 3 other doubles. Then in the bottom of the 3rd the entire Smash It/Scene lineup scored at least one run as they scored 14 runs with homers from Jason Branch, Andy Purcell, Andrew Collins, and Dennis Rulli. In the 4th Ryan Harvey added a homer, and in the 5th Branch, Dillon, and Reyna all homered to give Smash It/Scene a 19-9 lead. Then in the bottom of the 6th needing 5 runs to end the game by the run rule, Smash It/Scene got an inside the park homer from Don Dedonatis Jr and a walk off mercy rule homer from Jason Branch, his 3rd HR of the game, to win 24-19.
The winner's bracket resumed on Saturday in the stadium with SIS/Thunder taking on Resmondo in a shootout. The wind died and the ball was flying. SIS/Thunder's Neil Haglund hit the longest homer by a lefty in the tournament when he hit one to the far side of the batting cages in right field to give them a 9-7 lead in the top of the 2nd inning and they went on to score 11 runs in the inning. In the bottom of the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th the top of the Resmondo lineup led the way scoring 5, 7, and 4 runs to take a 23-21 lead. But it was all SIS/Thunder the rest of the way as they scored 4 in the 6th on a big homer by Josh Riley, and added an impressive 11 runs in the top of the 7th on 11 hits to close out Resmondo 36-26. Josh Riley was on base all 6 of his at bats with 5 hits and Tyler Driskell was 4-4 with a walk in the game. Resmondo's defense wasn't sharp and their offense left too many runners on base to win.
In the other semifinal which started around 10 AM Saturday morning Dan Smith scored 9 runs in the top of the 5th inning to grab a 16-13 lead. In the top of the 6th Dan Smith scored 5 more on homers by SS Freddie Bynum and pitcher LC Watson to grab a 21-14 lead and added 2 more runs on singles by Chris Greinert and Jason Matusik in the top of the 7th to lead 23-17. Smash It/Scene in the bottom of the 7th seemed unfazed by the 5-run deficit as they got a 1 out single from Dedonatis, doubles from Payne and Briggs, and homers from Branch and Purcell to cut the lead to 1 run. But two straight fly outs ended the game and Dan Smith had the upset and stopped Smash It/Scenes 28 game win streak!
The winner's bracket championship started early afternoon Saturday and it was all SIS/Thunder. After an early 4-1 Dan Smith lead, SIS/Thunder scored 7 in the 3rd on 4 home runs, 3 in the 4th on a Yates 3 run homer, 4 more on 3 homers in the 4th and put away Dan Smith with 6 runs in the bottom of the 6th. Dan Smith never did give up but lost 21-15. In the game SIS/Thunder's lefty hitter Kyle Olsen took one of his two homers straight out of center field an area that only Ryan Harvey seemed to be able to hit it.
In the loser's bracket, a depleted Newbreed team used a 7 run 4th inning to beat Racks 21-13. Worth Astros beat Nightmare 26-24 back on the Rawlings field in the baseball quad. The fields in the baseball quads are sponsored by Rawlings, Easton, Wilson, and Marucci and each field is named after the sponsor which is painted on it. Newbreed then got a walk off homer by Jeff Flood to beat Nightmare 20-19. Racks sent home Astros 32-22 on Rawlings field before being eliminated by Resmondo 27-9. And Smash It/Scene in the stadium Saturday run ruled Newbreed 23-8 as Ryan Harvey went 3-4 with 3 homers and 6 RBI. Rain then washed out the final loser's bracket game of the day so that was moved to 8 AM Sunday morning.
On Sunday it was the top 4 teams in the nation battling it out starting with Resmondo and Smash It/Scene in the loser's semifinals. Smash It/Scene broke a 7-7 tie in the bottom of the 4th inning by batting around the order with no outs and grabbed a 22-11 as they exposed the Resmondo defense repeatedly. Resmondo fought back in the 5th but SIS/Scene answered in the 5th and 6th to win 30-19. Andy Purcell and Ryan Harvey each homered 3 times in the game.
In the loser's bracket finals, the wind was still dead and the ball was still flying as Dan Smith scored 6 runs in the top of the 2nd to tie Smash It/Scene 11-11. In the bottom of the 2nd Smash It/Scene added 9 runs on homers by Harvey, Collins, and Purcell. Dan Smith had shot themselves in the foot by letting up double digit unearned runs in the first couple of innings. In the 3rd inning Smash It/Scene left the door open for a Dan Smith comeback when they put up a zero but Smith only scored 1 and Smash It Scene pulled away to a 33-19 win on the strength of 5 more homer's. Leadoff man Jason Branch was 5-5 with 2 HR and a walk in the game.
Around 11:30 AM Sunday the championship started under overcast skies and very little wind. SIS/Thunder's Yates, Haglund, and Costantino all hit solo homers to start the game and it almost felt as though they had forgotten about the 16 HR limit even though no one had really reached the limit in the tournament. In the bottom of the 1st Smash It/Scene scored 4, the big blow a 3 run homer by Hurricane Harvey. In the 2nd inning Dan Smith grabbed a 5-4 lead on a pair of doubles by Brian McBryde and Brian Logan and they blanked Smash It/Scene in both the 2nd and 3rd innings. SIS/Thunder also put up zeros in the 3rd and 4th though and it looked like Smash It/Scene would control the game when they went up 6-5 on an RBI triple by Nic Santana. However, Smash It/Scene wouldn't score more than 2 runs in an inning the rest of the way as it appeared the number of games in the humidity began to take its toll. SIS/Thunder got homer's from Kennington, Riley, and Yates and then a huge 2 out pinch-hit homer by Kevin Filby that was hit out at the 365 mark in right center field and actually went off of the glove of Smash It/Scene right fielder Andrew Collins who tried to rob it. Then Jeremy Yates added an inside the park homer down the left field line when the Smash It/Scene left fielder moved all the way over into left center on a defensive shift. Smash It/Scene needing 5 to tie in the bottom of the 7th managed just a solo homer by Andy Purcell and faded quietly to a 15-11 loss.
SIS/Thunder wins the Conference Championships undefeated. They did so by matching Smash It/Scene's defense, pitching, and offense as well as their power. The new stadium played long even with smaller dimensions than both the Disney stadium and Osceola Park. The scores were fairly low, the games with no wind were as pure a game as you can find at the major level and the heat on the artificial turf was only bad between the hours of 11:30 AM to 5:30 PM. The turf played true and slow as new turf does but did have some bounce to it that infielders quickly adjusted to. They used the "new" Stadium Dudley ZN and it proved to be the right ball for the conditions. Every one of the first-round matchups could have been won by the underdog with a little luck but only SIS/Thunder and Dan Smith were able to close out games and pull off upsets.
Our coverage continues in two weeks at the USSSA 'AA' Worlds September 16-17, the USSSA Major World Series September 20-23, and then on to the USA Softball Super and 'A' Nationals September 28th through October 1st.
Saturday Dan Smith bats against SIS/Thunder in the winner's bracket championship game
8 Teams Overall
8 Nationwide Conference USSSA Teams
6 Major Teams
2 'AA' Teams
The temporary scoreboard. The new one will be built in behind left field and be a little bigger than Disney,
where you see that construction going on.
Smash It/Scene takes down Dan Smith to advance to the finals
Night shots Friday of the beautiful Space Coast Stadium field
A panoramic view of the Space Coast Stadium and its 325-365-385-365-325 dimensions
When teams were warned about swearing both managers were brought out and given their one warning at the same time.
The "new" Dudley Stadium ZN was used with the "EW" codes.
Same ball was used at the Hall of Fame Classic and the same ball will be used at the Major World Series
Conference Awards and Final Standings
|Player Tournament Awards||Players Name||Plays For|
|Tournament CO-MVP||Andrew Vitcak||SIS/THUNDER/MIKEN/WORTH/LOUISVILLE|
|Tournament CO-MVP||Josh Riley||SIS/THUNDER/MIKEN/WORTH/LOUISVILLE|
|Offensive Tournament MVP||Ryan Harvey||SMASH IT/SCENE/TDB/MIKEN/WORTH|
|Defensive Tournament MVP||Brian Logan||SIS/THUNDER/MIKEN/WORTH/LOUISVILLE|
|All Tournament Team||Don Dedonatis Iii||SMASH IT/SCENE/TDB/MIKEN/WORTH|
|All Tournament Team||Andy Purcell||SMASH IT/SCENE/TDB/MIKEN/WORTH|
|All Tournament Team||Jason Branch||SMASH IT/SCENE/TDB/MIKEN/WORTH|
|All Tournament Team||Kevin Kennington||SIS/THUNDER/MIKEN/WORTH/LOUISVILLE|
|All Tournament Team||Scott Kirby||Resmondo/O.A.Apparel/H.Auto/SPTank|
|All Tournament Team||Tyler Driskell||SIS/THUNDER/MIKEN/WORTH/LOUISVILLE|
|All Tournament Team||Andrew Collins||SMASH IT/SCENE/TDB/MIKEN/WORTH|
|All Tournament Team||Adam Ussery||SIS/THUNDER/MIKEN/WORTH/LOUISVILLE|
|All Tournament Team||Jason Matusik||Dan Smith/Menosse|
|All Tournament Team||Donnie Hammonds||Dan Smith/Menosse|
|All Tournament Team||Loyd Watson||Dan Smith/Menosse|
|All Tournament Team||Kyle Pearson||Resmondo/O.A.Apparel/H.Auto/SPTank|
|All Tournament Team||Kyle Olsen||SIS/THUNDER/MIKEN/WORTH/LOUISVILLE|
|All Tournament Team||Neil Haglund||SIS/THUNDER/MIKEN/WORTH/LOUISVILLE|
|1||NY – Wading River||SIS/THUNDER/MIKEN/WORTH/LOUISVILLE||USSSA-SPMensMajor||4||0||0||79||55||19.8||13.8||6.0||36||300|
|2||NY – Rochester||SMASH IT/SCENE/TDB/MIKEN/WORTH||USSSA-SPMensMajor||4||2||0||143||93||23.8||15.5||8.3||33||225|
|3||CAN – San Jose||Dan Smith/Menosse||USSSA-SPMensMajor||2||2||0||62||78||15.5||19.5||-4.0||23||200|
|4||FLS – Winter Haven||Resmondo/O.A.Apparel/H.Auto/SPTank||USSSA-SPMensMajor||2||2||0||87||89||21.8||22.3||-0.5||27||175|
|5||WA – Tukwila||NEWBREED/GTS/DEMARINI||USSSA-SPMensMajor||2||2||0||52||62||13.0||15.5||-2.5||21||155|
|5||WY – Casper||Racks/Sonny's/Athlon/Easton/Cutter||USSSA-SPMensMajor||1||3||0||68||85||17.0||21.3||-4.3||32||155|
|7||IN – Indianapolis||WORTH ASTROS / K&G / KLUTCH||USSSA-Mens-AA||1||2||0||50||61||16.7||20.3||-3.7||26||130|
|7||MO – Branson||Nightmare/Miken||USSSA-Mens-AA||0||3||0||52||70||17.3||23.3||-6.0||24||130|