2019 Nationwide Conference USSSA
9th Las Vegas "Sin City" Classic
Las Vegas, NV
The crowds seemed much larger this year and I was told the Friday gate was 3x normal
The Las Vegas Major opened the 2019 Conference season as it typically does. There were a record 48 teams and a whopping 19 Conference teams in the double elimination bracket. The tournament was played at the Big League Dreams park with its miniature replica MLB stadiums and turf infields. The fences are the shortest in softball which made for high scores and loooooong games. They used the Dudley Classic M Conference ball and 12-16 home run limits. The weather was perfect during the day and cool at night and there wasn't near as much wind as in years past.
The tournament began on Friday at 2:30 PM Pacific time with a bunch of play in games with mostly the non-conference teams playing. As the day progressed the 19 Conference teams took to the field but there were not many upsets. It was all "chalk" to use an NCAA bracket term except for minor upsets like an L&S Glass 'B' team beating Regulators a newer 'A' team. So even that isn't really considered an upset. They played the play in round, the 1st round, and the round of 16 all on Friday night (late into the night).
The round of 16 is where the upsets began as APC/Athletics a 'B' team from California knocked off Xtreme (MN-AA) 25-22 on Wrigley field and TPJS/Seminoles/NACSF.Inc/Miken (OK-A) knocked off (MO-AA) Nightmare 39-24 on Fenway. The rest of the top seeds, all 4 Major teams (Resmondo, Dan Smith, TDB, and Pure) and the final 2 'AA' teams Newbreed and Bay Area all advanced.
In the quarterfinals Saturday at 4 PM the games for the most part started late as Dan Smith put on a base hitting clinic early on against Seminoles. Seminoles fought back from multiple run rule attempts to make it a 7 inning game but Dan Smith advanced to the "final 4" 50-39. Jo Jo Bennett and Steven Lloyd were both 5-6 in the game. Over on Wrigley, TDB run ruled APC 43-14. On Dodger field Pure Sports barely survived a win over Newbreed 31-24 scoring late to win. And on Yankee field (the show field) with the sun coming directly in the batter's eye, Resmondo fought past Bay Area Legends 30-18.
Quarterfinals – Resmondo's Kyle Pearson bats against Bay Area Legends. Yes the ball was pitched, where is it?
In the semifinals that started well after their 8:30 PM scheduled time, TDB/Racks scored 12 runs in the 1st against Dan Smith and led the entire game as both teams scored at least 3 runs in every inning. After the 16 home run limit was reached by both teams TDB had a 46-38 lead going into the 7th and held on to win 49-44. Everett Williams was 7-7 with 4 HR and 11 RBI in the win and the difference was the defense of shortstop Daniel Cayton and Defensive MVP Luis Reyna as they both made diving and sliding catches fit for ESPN consumption and Brian Zirkle made a full speed diving catch in left center as well.
In the second semifinal Resmondo took on SIS/Pure Sports on Yankee field. Pure got off to a slow start but grabbed a 16-13 lead going into the top of the 5th as Pure starter Justin Mucciarelli seemed to keep the potent Resmondo offense at bay. In the top of the 5th that all changed as Resmondo scored 19 runs and Pure put in relief pitcher Frankie Longello about half way through that 25 minute inning. But Pure never gave up and came all the way back. In the 7th inning trailing by only 1 run and with 1 out and no home runs left, they got a clutch double from Filip Washington, a single from Zach Messer, and an intentional bouncer up the middle for a fielder's choice by Donnie Hammonds because he wanted to get the run in without hitting a home run for an out. Then John Williams walked, and Tommy Melton hit a two out gap shot to right center field that stayed in the park and bounced up against the fence to score the winning run!
In the winner's bracket finals late Saturday night on Yankee field, Pure Sports scored 8 runs in the top of the 1st inning and it would have been more if not for a great line drive stab at 1st base by Jason Martel who also picked a bad throw in the inning. TDB answered with 12 runs in the bottom of the 1st and then scored 25 runs in the 2nd to give them a 37-8 lead. Daniel Cayton at shortstop then put away TDB with an incredible popup slide stop of a hard grounder in the 5-6 hole and throw to 1st. Pure didn't give up but TDB eventually won 44-24.
In the loser's bracket which played out all day Saturday starting at 7 AM and going well past midnight, a non-Conference 'B' team called Lazers Sportswear made an unlikely run as they beat Kleen Clothing 29-21, Exclusive 24-20, Classic Glass (AA) 33-30, APC Athletics 23-22, and Seminoles 45-29 after midnight before losing to Resmondo and finishing tied for 5th. Meanwhile in the top part of the loser's bracket it came down to a little mini 'AA' tournament where Newbreed crushed Nightmare and then Bay Area crushed Newbreed before the Major team Dan Smith dropped down and sent Bay Area home 38-29.
On Sunday morning the final 4 teams were all Major teams. Resmondo outslugged Dan Smith 54-46 (yes 100 runs) in a two hour long contest even though Dan Smith second baseman Steven Lloyd made a diving stop and turned a double play in the 1st inning and Dan Smith turned another double play in the 4th. For Resmondo Greg Connell, Jeremy Yates, and Cory Briggs were all 6-7. Then in the loser's bracket finals Resmondo led Pure Sports 25-20 after 3 complete innings and came from behind in the bottom of the 7th with home runs left to hit and Travis Clark hit a walk off homer to win 45-43.
In the championship Resmondo and TDB combined for just 6 runs in the first two innings before Resmondo took control offensively and run ruled TDB 34-19 with an 11 run 3rd and a 7 run 4th to force the "if" game. The top of the Resmondo order reached base safely almost 100% in that game. In the final game the scoring went back and forth as both teams grabbed leads and then gave them away with poor defense. TDB would prevail 40-36 though as Jason Branch and Daniel Cayton each hit 4 home runs and lead-off hitter Bryson Baker went 5-6 negating a big performance from Resmondo's Kyle Pearson who was 5-5 with a walk. Resmondo put up a zero in the 6th which was really the turning point.
Congratulations to TDB who won the tournament after being ranked 3rd in the pre-season rankings. And a big thank you to the umpires who put in some of the longest days in Conference history. The Conference season is off to an interesting start. The Major division appears to have some good parity as most of the Major teams beat each other without losing to any 'AA' teams and for the most part competed for 7 innings. The 'AA' division and 'A' division appear to be down a little bit based off of what we have seen in Las Vegas and the fact that the Major division expanded by one team thus taking some of the top talent away from the lower divisions.
TDB finishes off Resmondo in the "if" game
Resmondo's Bubba Mack slides in ahead of the tag. I think the catcher is supposed to be on the other side of the play?
Random Vegas thoughts:
The balls were too hard. Pitcher Nate Newman from Classic Glass was knocked out of the tournament. Players need to slide to the bag and not through the bag. Your back foot needs to start even with the front of the plate or you could be called out of the box. This rule is in the Conference rule book. The seeding was wrong. Players need to hustle at all times. There is too much money being spent on travel for players to give away any outs. A number of players I watched assumed they would be out at 2nd or 1st and didn't run fast and errant throws could have made them safe but instead the defense caught the ball and went back and tagged the base. TDB earned 226 points for their tournament win. Maybe when there are that many teams the tournament could start earlier? Conference will be in Houston this Friday, April 5-7 for the Space City Classic and over 60 teams!
48 Teams Overall
19 Nationwide Conference USSSA Teams
4 Major Teams
4 'AA' Teams
8 'A' Teams
13 'B' Teams
19 'C' Teams
Key Winner's Bracket Games
Dan Smith takes on TDB in the semifinals. This ball was hit past the pitcher before the pitcher could react.
Check it out in the video clips. TDB won a long game where Dan Smith came back a number of times.
Tommy Melton of SIS/Pure hits a walk off gap shot to beat Resmondo in the bottom of the 7th!
Sunday morning Resmondo taking on Dan Smith in the loser's semi
Lazer Sportswear beat TPJS/Seminoles 45-29 to finish tied for 5th!
Newbreed smoked Nightmare 26-9 in a battle of 'AA' teams
My Auto Jack upset Xtreme 32-25
Bay Area Legends crushed Newbreed 23-3 in the shortest game of the tournament
A nice pano of MPT playing at Dodger
One Mpt Lineup:
APC Athletics Mario Granados takes on Lazer Sportswear at Wrigley
Most of the BLD fields come in from 285 to 265 on the corners.
The back foot must start even with home plate or you could be called out.
Chuck saved my life (long story) and tested bats. ??
Lots of failed bats. They used the Classic M ZN ball
Home run robbing catches by Resmondo's Steele Lewis who played center field THE WHOLE WEEKEND. And a nice catch by Bay Area Left fielder Miller?