2022 Conference USSSA
Proton shortstop Tyler Dickens robs Classic Glass of a hit in the Championship game!
Semifinal #1 condensed came Link (when ready)
Winner’s bracket final condensed game link (when ready)
Championship condensed game link (when ready)
Defensive plays video link (when ready)
Friday night action with L&S Glass hitter Josh Tallent
The 2022 “Cactus Classic” Major at the Legacy Sports USA Complex in Mesa, Arizona began on Friday night in windy conditions where wind speed got up to 25 miles per hour. The men’s teams played on the big 330-360-380-360-330 all turf baseball fields with the Dudley Stadium ZN and 8-12-14 home run limits depending upon the classification of the teams playing. 28 teams participated with 9 of them being from the Conference USSSA. The Friday games went as expected with higher seeds winning for the most part. The Conference teams that had play in games all won. Lund Mortgage/4theFallen (AZ-A) won on a walk off homer by Hunter Ramirez. They were down 10-9 with 2 outs and no one on base when Brian Therkildsen tripled, Dustin Wager walked, and Ramirez homered to win! There were only 3 home runs hit in the game. Bay Area Legends (CA-AA) run ruled Sick Not Weak 35-17. L&S Glass (CA-A) run ruled Sick Invite 19-1. And Str8Play/JPS (CA-B) run ruled AZ Athletics 18-2. The rest of the Conference teams had byes to the “round of 16”.
Lund Mortgage’s Hunter Ramirez hits a walk off 3 run homer down 2 with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th!
“Round of 16”
MyAutoJack takes on Lund Mortgage in the “round of 16” Saturday morning.
In the “Round of 16” Cheap Suits/Dirty/Republic RE (CA-A) who has conveniently dropped the KNELL from their name 🙂 knocked off Impact/Figa 24-3 scoring 12 runs in the top of the 2nd. Chris Benigno was 4-4 with 4 runs scored and Justin Charles 3-3 in the win. Lund Mortgage scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 6th and held MAJ/Spire scoreless in the 7th to win 15-10. AJ Montano had 3 hits and Chad Agustin was 2-2 off the bench with a home run. Bay Area Legends/Vivid (CA-B) beat a very good Culture Athletics/Franchise Apparel (CA-B) 19-2. Classic Glass/Easton (CA-AA) blanked B.I.RanchoFresco (AZ-C) 31-0. Bay Area Legends (CA-AA) team beat SD Lighting 26-10. Bay Area was missing a few players with missed flights who came in for the later games. L&S Glass run ruled Sticky Bandits 30-15. BTR (UT-B) run ruled Str8Play 19-2 in the 1st battle of Conference teams. And Proton/Legacy Glove Co. (AZ-AA) the #1 seed beat Phenom/SCS 28-14 scoring 10 runs in the top of the 7th to separate as Steve Edwards went 5-5 with 3 HR and 5 RBI. Tyler Dickens and Jon Nelson also chipped in with 3 HR each. Remember Conference tournaments after the Hall of Fame Dual are seeded straight by 2022 Conference Points
“Round of 8”
Proton’s Chad Erickson hits against BTR in the “Final 8”.
In the “Round of 8” Saturday afternoon Proton run ruled BTR 28-13 scoring 14 runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning and shutting out BTR in the 3rd and 4th. Adam Ussery at lead off, Brock Frentzel, and pitcher Jose Flores each had 4 hits. They out homered BTR 4-0. On Saturday the wind died down for the most part and it was cooler.
Bay Area/Vivid’s Jodi Higginbotham hits against Classic Glass in the “Final 8”
Classic Glass beat Bay Area Legends/Vivid team 19-10 controlling the lead throughout the game. And in the rest of the “Final 8” Bay Area (the ‘AA’ team) beat L&S Glass 23-12 and Cheap Suits knocked off Lund Mortgage who’s offense was struggling 17-7. Cheap suits scored 10 in the bottom of the 1st inning. Kirk Rocha, Ryan Dacko, Dale Swinford, and Victor Cordova all had 3 hits, Cordova the only home run of the game.
Bay Area Legends Josh Moore hits against Proton in the semifinals.
In the “Final 4” of the winner’s bracket early Saturday evening as it began to cool off Bay Area Legends out homered Proton 10 to 5 but came up short in a 25-24 loss when Steve Edwards hit a 3 run homer in the bottom of the 6th to give Proton the lead and they used some great outfield defensive catches by Bryan Dezern and Brent McClure to end the game without having to bat in the 7th. Steve Edwards was 4-4 with a homer and 4 RBI, Brian Dezern was 4-5 with 3 RBI.
Proton right fielder Bryan Dezern preserves the win over Bay Area with a great catch. He subsequently jammed his toe on the bottom of the fence on this play.
In the other semifinal Classic Glass scored 10 in the top of the 6th against Cheap Suits to separate and win by the run rule. Ryan Ramirez and Clayton Farrar were each 5-5 in the victory. Ramirez had 5 home runs!
Classic Glass 2nd baseman Jordan Spaulding went 6-6 with 4 HR and 6 RBI in the winner’s bracket finals vs Proton.
In the winner’s bracket finals on Saturday night Classic Glass and Proton were locked in a battle where each team scored in every inning through 6 complete. In the top of the 7th Classic Glass down 2 scored 7 runs and held Proton scoreless in the bottom of the 7th to win 27-22. Classic used all 14 of their home runs. Proton used just 9.
In the bottom of the 7th Lund Mortgage’s Dustin Wager gets a 2 out walk off single to beat Cheap Suits after they trailed 14-3 earlier in the game!
The loser’s bracket which played out on Saturday was Culture Athletics winning 4 straight games to finish 5th in the bottom half of the bracket and Lund Mortgage beating Sticky Bandits 18-8, Bay Area’s B team 20-7, Bay Areas AA team 35-20 scoring 15 in the bottom of the 5th, and then after trailing Cheap Suits 14-3 late on Saturday night they came back and won in the bottom of the 7th on a Dustin Wager 2 out single to make it to Sunday. Cheap Suits finished 4th.
Lund Mortgage’s Hunter Ramirez homer’s early against Proton in the loser’s bracket finals.
On Sunday Lund Mortgage came out hot hitting a couple of home runs in the top of the 1st and jumped out to a 7-3 lead on Proton. But Proton scored 9 in the bottom of the 2nd and 8 more in the bottom of the 4th while holding Lund scoreless in the 2nd, 5th, and 6th innings and Proton advanced to the Championship 28-17. Edwards, Brock Frentzel, and Will Dooley each had 4 hits in the win. Lund actually had the home run advantage 7-6.
Proton finishes off Lund Mortgage advancing to the championship
Classic Glass 3rd baseman Mike Nino makes a spectacular catch!
At 9:30 AM Sunday morning the championship began with the game balls in the bucket starting to warm up the scoring slowed on the big fields. As you can see below Classic Glass put up a couple zero’s in the middle innings that really hurt them and had some tough grounders stay down below the fielders gloves that could have been double plays and Proton separated in the bottom of the 6th after being sparked by a pinch hit single by Brad Lunda and doubles by Dezern, Frentzel, and Ussery, and a homer by Nelson. Proton won and forced the “if” game 17-11.
Great catches by Frentzel in Left field and a diving catch by Dezern at 2nd to end the game with a Proton tournament championship!
In the final game neither team took control but the Proton defense held up a little stronger and they pulled out to an 8 run lead in the bottom of the 6th when Frentzel, Ussery, and Dooley homered. Classic never gave up scoring 5 in the top of the 7th but a diving catch by Frentzel in left and a diving catch of a liner by Dezern at 2nd (both pictured above) sealed the tournament win for Proton 20-17.
The tournament was well run, it was expensive to get in the gate, but the fields themselves may be the best the conference has ever played on. The weather was perfect for softball, not hot. The stadium balls were the correct ball for the big fields, and the scores and game times were as they should be.
Old Scout was correct, Proton won.
Long Bombers of the Week
Jon Nelson is the long bomber of the week. This ball went over the 330 fence, the 30 foot net, the walkway, the bathrooms, the fence on the other field and eye witnesses say it hit the white soccer line on the other softball field. Google Earth doesn’t have this park on it yet but someday we will be able to measure this homer accurately. I can safely say 475 but we will check back soon.
Long Bomber honorable mentions go to Reid Ramirez, Tyler Dickens, and I believe it was Jason Croslund from L&S Glass that hit one over the net in center field and if you see that pink pixel just below the picture of the boot? I think he broke that pixel on the video board…lol
Cactus Classic Major Final Standings and Awards
Proton’s Steve Edwards was MVP. He had some clutch home runs and just kept moving up the lineup. .879 with 9 HR and 18 RBI.
Proton pitcher Jose Flores was Defensive MVP.
Classic Glass middle infielder Josh Brown was Offensive MVP.
Team by team notes:
1st Place – Proton/Legacy Glove Co.
Conf ‘AA’ from AZ 6-1 Record
Proton played without Chad Mullins, Brad Lunda pinch hit but has a partially torn hammy, and Brian Dezern injured a toe during the semifinal but everyone pitched in and they pulled it out from the loser’s bracket to become the 4th different team in the 1st 4 Conference tournaments to win one. The defense and pitching is as good as their is in ‘AA’. They seemed to be a little down on power but Mullins wasn’t there. Steve Edwards came up big offensively and Jon Nelson hit 11 home runs.
Proton had Brady Stewart at 3B, Tyler Dickens SS, Adam Ussery MI, and Brian Dezern or Brent McClure in RF.
Ex-Sonny’s player Sammy Christensen filled in for Proton with all of their injuries and missing players.
2nd Place – Classic Glass/Easton
Conf ‘AA’ from CA 4-2 Record
Classic Glass came up just short of winning the tournament. A few too many grounders on the cork/rubber turf stayed down else they would have turned a bunch of double plays in the championship games which you can see in condensed form soon on the USSSALive youtube channel. Classic Glass is what the ‘AA’ division should be, an ‘A’ World Championship team that tweaks a little in the offseason and picks up a Jordan Spaulding from Dan Smith and a Johnny Castenada “diamond in the rough” type rookie to go with a veteran pitcher in Jones, and a known ‘AA’ champion in Downing in CF etc. Well put together team and one fans want to succeed, which they will.
Reid Ramirez hits a bomb out of center field.
Sal Formosa steals home after an overthrow.
Johnny Castenada is off to a hot start for the rookie of the year race.
Brian Farrar was the only homer to center field with the wind blowing in on field #6.
Jonesy had some dead pull power like he did in Virginia a few years back.
3rd Place – Lund Mortgage/4theFallen
Conf ‘A’ from AZ 6-2 Record
Lund Mortgage struggled offensively early in the tournament but came on stronger as they came through the loser’s bracket. Shortstop Danny Higa finally playing Conference full time led the team with a .684 on base percentage. Zach Walters also playing full time for the first time hit 8 homer’s and drove in 24. And Hunter Ramirez and Chad Agustin each hit 7 HR. Therkildsen did most of the pitching and the talented Isaiah Brown was running down balls in center field. This team flew under the radar in the offseason but are starting to make a name for themselves.
Therkildsen went out of center field Sunday morning.
AJ Montano was slid into at 2nd base and has an injured knee.
Therkildsen pitching, Higa at SS, Montano in the middle.
Left side Sunday morning.
4th Place – Cheap Suits/Dirty/Republic RE
Conf ‘A’ from CA 3-2 Record
Cheap Suits lost that big lead to Lund Mortgage late Saturday night and cost themselves a shot at 2nd or 3rd. Ryan Dacko led the team with a .813 on base percentage. Damario Boyd was .800 with 11 RBI. They only hit 12 HR in 5 games on the baseball fields. Danny Lopez at pitcher was a difference maker for them this weekend.
Vic Cordova slaps one to left center for a double late Saturday night against Lund Mortgage.
Mac Rio tells me the gold chains don’t slow him down. They definitely haven’t this year.
Tied 5th Place – Culture Athletics/Franchise Apparel
Conf ‘B’ from CA 5-2 Record
Speaking of flying under the radar, Culture Athletics finishes tied for 5th doing most of their damage in the loser’s bracket where unfortunately I did not see much of them. I did pick them to be the highest finishing non-conference team so I was correct there. 🙂 Looking at their roster they don’t have much Conference experience except for Zarate? I wonder if Cuellar is related to the former major player Mike Cuellar? Probably not.
Tied 5th Place – Bay Area Legends
Conf ‘AA’ from CA 2-2 Record
Bay Area let one slip away vs Proton scoring just 1 run in the top of the 7th in the semifinals against them. Mooch pitched well and was getting hits. They have picked up Competitive Edge castoff infielders Steve Whaley and Josh Moore each of the last two tournaments. Lazer Dave seemed to be hitting it well along with Traylor. We haven’t seen the best of Bay Area yet this year, but for now they are a lower ‘AA’ team.
Mooch “karate kids” Dezern
Traylor was 4-5 with 2 HR in the semis vs Proton.
Dave Johnson puts the “Lazer” back in his name vs L&S Glass.
Joel Gonzalez appears to have torn a bicep. Get well soon my man.
Hot Links section:
Link to the USSSALive Youtube channel (2022 Content)
Link to the SoftballCenter.com Youtube channel (2008 to 2021 Content)
More Teams and Faces at the Tournament
BTR went 2-2 and is looking for sponsorship help. They are always a tough out. Lost to Proton and run ruled by Culture.
The Bay Area Legends/Vivid ‘B’ team went 3-2.
L&S Glass had some good offense going early in the tournament but finished tied for 7th at 3-2. Lost to Culture and Bay Area.
Str8Play/JPS/SBT/SparkApparel (CA-B) went 3-2 losing to fellow Conference ‘B’ teams Bay/Vivid and BTR.
Figa.Impact/PBW won 3 games in the Major then won the B/C consolation bracket.
Arizona non conf B team Classy went 1-2. Still have the best uniforms.
NVH a C team from Arizona went 2-2
XMen had 3 different sets of sweat uniforms. They went 0-2.
MyAutoJack/Spire Financial/Rowley White/RV (AZ-B) went 1-2.
Levi Lynch is enjoying helping manage the Lund Mortgage team.
This was the view from the USSSALive.com live stream on the show field.
This Legacy park had a massive amount of pickle ball courts, soccer fields, and indoor basketball courts. They are building these in Nashville and Texas.
The fields themselves may be the best we have played on in the conference. 330-360-380-360-330 fences, all turf, and a nice batters eye. The turf has cork and rubber mix in it which made the bounces stay low. No high hops at all.
Plenty of shade for the fans.
Batting cages for the teams to use.
It is a fact, umpires that give the scores between innings also have a better rating from the fans. 🙂
Legends of the game – Justin Mucciarelli and Tom Formosa Sr.
Bay Area infielders Steve Whaley and Josh Moore both started the year with Competitive Edge.
Vivids John Kilburn and Bay Area’s Joel Gonzalez talk strategy for the ‘B’ team.
Sick not Weak 3B makes a great catch.
The Westcott’s are professional softball photographers if you need someone.
The Utah directors led by Tim Yamashita came down to run the tournament. Things went smooth.
Don Springer umpiring Friday night was hit by a warmup throw and ended up in the ICU. Get well soon Don.
John Stephens and Dave Davis did every game on the show field. The Conference was short umpires and the tireless efforts of the 17 that were there plus a few directors that pitched in and did a few games was MUCH appreciated!