2018 USSSA 'A' World Tournament
Space Coast Complex
August 31st – September 2nd
USSSA 'A' World Championship Sunday!
Rapid Fire Athletics/Bad Draw vs Pauer Sports/JBL/Tailgaters/B&E!
Winner's bracket finals between Pauer and Rapid Fire
Sunday morning final 4
The 2018 USSSA 'A' World Tournament was played at the new USSSA headquarters in Viera, Florida at the Space Coast Stadium and surrounding fields on 325-foot fences with the Dudley Classic M ball. The 25-team tournament began on Friday at 3 PM in hot and humid weather on the all turf fields. The first round consisted of 9 "play in" games and for the most part scores depended on which of the 5 fields you were on as the wind blew out on 2 of the fields and in or across on the other 3 fields which kept the scoring down. Each team was allowed to hit 8 home runs per game. In the opening set of 4 games Sports Reach from Kentucky out slugged Regulators from Colorado 26-17, Rebel Sports a 'B' team from Michigan shut down Stars from Colorado 12-2, SNI/Easton/SDA from Florida out slugged and upset OI Livingston/Adiktiv from Georgia 27-25 with the wind blowing out, and La Famiglia/Easton from Pennsylvania beat Wiley's Supreme from Florida easily 21-9. At 4:30 PM Tradesmen/Louisville Slugger from Utah beat Aire from Arizona 8-6 and Team Fan Apparel from Arkansas a non-Conference 'A' team beat Smash It Sports from New York 9-4. Both of those games were with the wind blowing in strong. Infamous/Salt Riot a 'B' team from Colorado upset Seminoles from Oklahoma 25-12, and Nally's from Missouri beat Fish Head from Maryland 22-19 with the wind blowing out on "Red" Rawlings field. The first round closed out with Chanticlear Pizza from Minnesota beating CTC/Southshore 9-2.
In the second round the top 7 seeds began their 'A' Worlds starting at 6 PM. #1 seeded Baugh Ford/Pure Sports/Kincaid from Alabama run ruled SNI 28-11. #2 seed Premier/Easton/HDLNS from Ohio run ruled Team Fan Apparel 27-11. #3 seed Rapid Fire Athletics/Bad Draw from Virginia just did get by Tradesmen 16-14. #4 seed Pauer Sports/JBL/Tailgaters/B&E shut down Chanticlear 13-4. #5 seed Bay Area Legends/Miken from California beat Nally's 7-2 with the wind blowing in strong on "White" Rawlings. #6 TG Brand from Michigan won easily over Sports Reach 16-5. #7 Classic Glass/Easton became the first big upset of the tournament when 'B' team Rebel Sports beat them 9-6. And #8 La Famiglia/Easton/Elite from Pennsylvania crushed Infamous 25-3. So, 7 of the top 8 seeds advanced.
The "Final 8" of the winner's bracket was LOADED with top teams, most of whom were expecting to win 'A' Worlds. As this round began Friday evening at 9 PM the sun set, and the temperatures dropped to where the ball was flying a little better. Premier over on the "White" Easton field made short work of Rebel Sports as they "mercy ruled" them 27-12. La Famiglia shocked #1 seeded Baugh Ford with a 19-4 run rule win. And in the game of the night which had the most intensity and some good natured "chirping", TG Brand jumped out to a 9-2 lead on the strength of a 7 run 2nd inning against Rapid Fire Athletics. But Rapid Fire never gave up and grabbed a late lead and held on with the gloves in a 21-18 victory. The final game of the "Round of 8" was played Saturday morning when they opened up the Stadium field using a temporary home run fence set at 325 feet and Bay Area Legends lost to Pauer Sports 13-6. It was not Bay Area's weekend as they had one of the strongest offensive teams in the 'A' division but scored just 15 runs in their 3 games.
The "Final 4" of the winner's bracket and the remainder of the games were played in the Stadium. In the first semifinal at 11 AM Rapid Fire Athletics and La Famiglia could not get the offense going with strong winds blowing across the field from left to right. Neither team could score more than 2 runs in an inning. Rapid Fires Rich Racobaldo homered to start the game and he and Chris Nann homered in the middle innings to push them out to an 8-3 lead by the 5th inning. In the 6th Pauer Sports scored 4 runs including a homer by Phil Matte to close the game to 8-7 but Rapid Fire held on to win 10-7. In the other semifinal Pauer Sports got on an offensive roll and powered past La Famiglia 18-7 when La Famiglia did not get a hit in the last 4 innings.
The winner's bracket championship game was then played at 8:30 PM in front of the biggest crowd (if you can call it that) of the tournament as players that were done with the Conference Awards Banquet stopped in to watch the big game. Pauer Sports may have put the perfect game together as they used adrenaline and momentum combined with great defense and big innings to pull away from Rapid Fire and held off a late run to win 19-15.
In the loser's bracket Seminoles, Team Fan Apparel, Infamous, and Chanticlear all made some mini runs with 2 or 3 wins. But it was OI Livingston who had lost their first game of the tournament that beat Sports Reach by 5, Seminoles 4 to 3, Bay Area Legends 7 to 2, and their arch rival Baugh Ford 14-2, before losing to Premier 15-0 early Saturday evening to finish tied for 5th. On the other side of the loser's bracket TG Brand knocked off Chanticlear 8-6, and used a walk off single by Brady Hightchew to beat fellow Michigan team Rebel Sports 13-12, before La Famiglia dropped down and sent them packing 9-6 and a 5th place finish.
So, on Sunday morning at 8 AM it was La Famiglia playing Premier for 3rd place. The game began with some incredible defense by both teams outfields as La Famiglia robbed Cory Boothe's home run down the left field line and Eric Challburg made two incredible catches in center field. But Premier right fielder Ryan Disbennet made a great diving catch and Premier's offense pushed them to an early 3-2 lead. However, it was all La Famiglia the rest of the way as they took advantage of 4 Premier errors and outscored Premier 21-4 down the stretch and at one point all but one of the batters in their order all scored in a row. They put up 15 runs (the most of any team) in the 4th inning and won 25-7. Pitcher Tim Bouch who isn't known for his hitting was 4 for 4, leadoff man Dave Durso was 3-5 with 2 doubles and a homer, and shortstop Josh Fyffe was 2-3 with a homer and a walk.
The loser's final was next as Rapid Fire the more rested team jumped out to an 11-0 lead after 4 complete innings against La Famiglia as the temperatures started to rise. But La Famiglia reached down deep and scored 1 in the 5th inning, 4 in the 6th, and 3 in the 7th and had 2 on when Rapid Fires MVP pitcher Cam Byars got a foul out to end the game with the tying run at the plate! Rapid Fire had advanced 11-8 led by Rich Racobaldo, CJ Jacinto, and Chris Nann who all reached base safely 3 times.
The championship then began around 10:45 AM as Rapid Fire aimed to beat Pauer Sports the undefeated team twice and thus Pauer was the automatic home team in the first game as per USSSA World tournament rules. Rapid Fire jumped out to a 3-1 lead until the bottom of the 3rd inning when big Mike Mallory from Pauer Sports hit a grand slam to give his team a 5-3 advantage. But some outfield misplays gave Rapid Fire a 6-5 lead and Chris Idip took advantage with a big triple. Pauer Sports would not score the rest of the way and lost quietly 8-5.
The final and deciding game started at high noon for the 'A' World title and scores were expected to be low. But both teams came out of the gate with a big offensive inning. Rapid Fire scored 9 in the 1st which was capped by leadoff hitter Rich Racobaldo's home run. Pauer Sports answered with 6 runs in the bottom of the 1st inning but they left the bases loaded and Pauer Sports would only score 2 runs the rest of the game. Meanwhile Rapid Fire scored in every inning but the 4th including a big back side pinch hit homer by Jess Maloney in the 6th to make it 16-7, on their way to a 21-8 win and the 'A' World title! David Forbes and Jess Maloney each homered in the 3 spot in the lineup, Chris Idip collected 3 hits, and the entire team pitched in on both sides of the ball to pull off the "double dip"!
Congratulations to Rapid Fire sponsors Mark Katz in his first year in the Conference and their other sponsor Brandon Cashwell from Bad Draw who has definitely been through some ups and downs in upper level softball and this has to feel really good for both of those guys.
Rapid Fire Athletics/Bad Draw from Virginia wins the USSSA 'A' Worlds!
25 Teams Overall
19 Nationwide Conference USSSA Teams
21 'A' Teams
4 'B' Teams
Premier takes on Rapid Fire in loser's final
Rapid Fires Jess Maloney gets one past Pauer pitcher John Dombrowski
The agony of defeat. Pauer Sports outfielders may have been this close to winning 'A' Worlds in the 1st Championship game.
Rapid Fire finishes off La Famiglia to go the Championship game
TG Brand beats Rebel Sports on a walk off single by Brady Hightchew
TFA's Tim Howard gets a double against Smash It Sports
The Saturday evening loser's bracket matchup between TG Brand and La Famiglia ended up being for the berth to the USSSA Major World Series #17 seed. Because the winner would be the highest finishing non qualified conference team left in the 'A' Worlds!
La Famiglia won 9-6 and accepted the berth!
Nally's hits against Wiley's
The temp fences set at 325 worked very well. Much better than those little plastic fences used at Disney.
They were about 5.5 or 6 feet high. The games felt the same as the ones in the softball quad except there was a little more foul territory.
A huge 2nd round Friday night matchup between two of the favorites to win 'A' Worlds – TG Brand vs Rapid Fire was won by Rapid Fire 21-18 after Rapid Fire only beat Tradesmen 16-14 in the first round. Things got a little chippy in the handshake line.
Pauer Sports sends La Famiglia to the loser's bracket in the semi finals
CTC takes on Chanticlear Pizza
After the awards banquet some of the players stuck around and watched the 'A' Winners Finals.
'A' World Final Standings and Awards
Rapid Fire pitcher Cam Byars won the MVP
Pauer Sports 3rd Baseman Ryan Roppel was Offensive MVP
Rapid Fire 2nd Baseman Freddie Bynum was Defensive MVP
Rapid Fire manager Toby Williams was Manager of the tournament. Sponsor Mark Katz receives the Championship Trophy
Rapid Fire and Pauer Sports All Tournament Selections
1st Place – Rapid Fire Athletics/Bad Draw
Conf 'A' from VA 6-1 Record