WORTH-sponsored team goes undefeated to win USSSA Men’s Major World Series
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA – With almost 50 million visitors annually, Disney World in Florida is by far the largest theme park in the world. But the theme of the 2010 USSSA Men’s Major World Series, which was played Sept. 22-26 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Champions Stadium located at Disney World, was “Redemption.”
Just three weeks after losing to Dan Smith/Menosse three games to one in a best-of-five series at the Conference USSSA Major Championships – with two of the three losses being run-rules – Resmondo/Worth redeemed them¬selves by cruising through five games to win the biggest event of the year – the Men’s Major World Series.
Resmondo/Worth outscored their oppo¬nents 141-to-41, which is an average of 28.2 to 8.2 per game. Even more impres¬sive may have been the fact that they outscored Dan Smith/Menosse, the only other Major team in the tournament, by a combined score of 55-to-20 in the winner’s bracket finals and champion¬ship game – and both games were short¬ened by the mercy rule.
Resmondo/Worth, based in Winter Haven, Fla., opened the tournament with a 28-5 win over Suncoast/Reebok from neighboring Sarasota, Fla. on Wednesday night. The following day, Resmondo/Worth crushed Logo Express, a B team from Byron, Ga., 32-10. Resmondo outscored Logo Express 9-0 in the first inning to set the tempo. Logo Express rallied, thanks to a six-run outburst in the third inning, to cut the score to 18-9 after four innings. But Resmondo exploded for 14 runs in the top of the fifth, and when Logo Express could only answer with one-run, the game ended on a run-rule. B.J. Fulk went 4-for-4 with 6 RBIs and Jeff Wallace went 4-for-4 with 4 RBIs to pace the victory. Matt Bunn went 3-for-3 with a home run for Logo Express.
In the winner’s bracket semi-finals on Friday night, Resmondo/Worth faced Cinderella story Fencebrokers/Worth from Bryant, Ark. Resmondo got off to a fast start and never looked back, winning 26-6. After FBI failed to score in the top of the first inning, Resmondo put up an 11 spot. They added seven more in both the second and third frames. By the time Resmondo batted in the fourth inning, they needed just one-run to complete the 20-run-rule and they got it. Greg Connell and Jeff Wallace each went 4-for-4, while Bobby Hughes and Brian Rainwater each hit a pair of home runs. Perry Hensley went 2-for-2 with a home run and three RBIs for Fence Brokers.
Finally, the much-anticipated rematch with Dan Smith came in the finals of the winner’s bracket Saturday night. Resmondo/Worth started the game especially emotional and scored five runs in the top of the first inning, and 11 more in the second to open a commanding 16-1 lead. By the fourth inning, Resmondo/Worth had flip-flopped Dan Smith from home to visi¬tors, before finishing them off with a satisfying 29-11 victory. Don DeDonatis III went 4-for-4 with a pair of home runs and six RBIs to lead the attack. Bryson Baker went 4-for-4 with a home run and five RBIs, while Bobby Hughes went 4-for-4 with four RBIs. Brian Wegman went 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs for Dan Smith, while Brett Helmer added a pair of home runs.
Dan Smith dropped to the loser’s bracket and took a full seven innings to get past Fence Brokers/Worth in a nail-biter, 23-22, to advance to the championship game. In what was one of the best games of the tournament, FBI scored five runs in each of the first two innings to open a 10-2 lead over the heavy favorites. FBI managed three more runs in the top of the third, but Dan Smith answered with 11 runs to tie the game, 13-13. After two more innings, the scored was still tied, 21-21, after the fifth. FBI put up a goose-egg in the top of the sixth (their second straight inning without scoring a run) and Dan Smith answered with one to take a 22-21 lead. The obviously-gassed FBI team only managed one run in the top of the seventh to tie the score, 22-22. Dan Smith put two runners on with just one out, before Geno Buck plated the winning run with a base hit. Ryan Thiede went 5-for-5 for Dan Smith, while Rick Baker went 4-for-4 with a pair of home runs. Timmy Howard led FBI by going 4-for-5 with two home runs and six RBIs.
In the championship game, Resmondo/ Worth followed their same pattern of getting off to a fast start en route to a knockout. Resmondo scored seven runs in the first inning and 10 more in the second to open a 17-1 lead after two frames. Eight more runs in the top of the third gave Resmondo a 25-6 lead. After the fourth inning, Resmondo flip-flopped Dan Smith for the second game in a row. And when Dan Smith could not scratch in the top of the fifth, the game was over and Resmondo/Worth had a 26-9 championship victory.
“This is the greatest feeling in the world,” said B.J. Fulk, of Resmondo/ Worth. “We work hard all off-season, then battle through each tournament of the year to get to this one event. For all that work to pay off with a champi¬onship is very special.”
Resmondo/Worth was not the only team that redeemed themselves at this year’s Major World Series. After laying an egg and going 0-2 at the Men’s B World Tournament, Fence Brokers/Worth from Arkansas made an improbable and historic run by winning their first four games of the tournament to advance to the finals of the winner’s bracket. Their only eventual losses were to the two Major teams, one of them by just one run, and the third place finish was the highest even by a B team at the Major World Series.
Congratulations are in order for player/sponsor Chris Walker and manager Mike Wilson for their team’s performance. While many of the teams in the tournament are national all-star teams, the nucleus of FBI’s roster come from a couple of neigh¬boring states – John Glidewell, Timmy Howard, Tim Bowser and Zach Keene from Arkansas, and Perry Hensley, Raul Cardenas and Joey Urbanek, from Texas.
Another team that earned some redemption at the Major World Series was Suncoast/Reebok. After starting the season with an impressive roster and hopes of winning the A World title, Suncoast struggled for most of the year. The team only finished better than .500 in just one tournament during the entire regular season, and went either 0-2 or 1-2 four times. Suncoast began playing better at the A World, where they finished fourth. But they still had just a 21-20 record entering the World Series as the last seed, and many observers felt they shouldn’t even have been invited to the big dance at all. But after the opening round loss to Resmondo, Suncoast rallied to post wins over Northwest Combat, 15-12; 2010 B World champion AJS/Easton, 18-17; and 2010 A World champion GTL Cartel/Worth, 14-13, to earn an impressive tie for fifth place.
Don DeDonatis III of Resmondo/Worth was named the Most Valuable Player of the Major World Series. DeDonatis batted .813 with seven home runs and 12 RBIs as his team’s leadoff batter, and played his usual flawless defense from the shortstop position. More impor¬tantly, perhaps, was his inspired play that did not show up in box scores. In the winner’s bracket finals Saturday night, DeDonatis set the tempo by wiping out Dan Smith second-baseman Brett Helmer on a hard-but-clean slide at second base on a force out play. He later stood up to hulking Dan Smith pitcher Geno Buck when some chirping started, and his aggressive leadership proved to be an inspiration to teammates.
B.J. Fulk of Resmondo/Worth was named the Offensive MVP of the tour¬nament. The big left-hander from North Carolina, who was moved up to the three-hole in the batting order for this tournament, cranked out six home runs and 16 RBI’s to go along with his .750 batting average.
Fleet-footed center-fielder Rick “Spike” Baker of Dan Smith/Menosse was named the Defensive MVP of the tournament. The rangy left-hander made play-after-play to live up to his reputation as the best outfielder in the game. Baker also led Dan Smith with a .696 batting average and was second on the team with nine home runs and 16 RBIs.
In addition to DeDonatis and Fulk, six more Resmondo/Worth players were named to the All-Tournament Team – third-baseman Dennis Rulli, middle-infielder Bryson Baker, second-baseman Greg Connell, pitcher Andy Purcell, catcher Jeff Wallace, and center-fielder Bobby Hughes. Rulli had the second highest batting average on the team at .765, while Baker tied Fulk for third at .750. Hughes led the team in RBIs with 19, and Connell was second with 17. Wallace batted .737 with a couple of towering home runs. Purcell was his usual dominating force on the pitching rubber, and also contributed a .684 average and 14 RBIs with his stick. Resmondo/Worth skipper Frank Webb was also tabbed the All-Tournament Manager.
In addition to Rick Baker, four more Dan Smith/Menossee players were named to the All-Tournament Team – first-baseman Ryan Thiede, second-baseman Brett Helmer, middle-infielder Jeremy Isenhower and left-fielder Brian Wegman. Helmer led the team with 10 home runs and 19 RBIs, while Isenhower hit seven home runs and Thiede and Wegman each added six.
Third place finisher Fence Brokers/ Worth placed three players on the All-Tournament Team – center-fielder Timmy “Scarecrow” Howard, right-fielder Reggie Schulte, and infielder Joey Urbanek. Howard’s performance was one the biggest stories of the weekend. The Little Rock native had been away from the Major circuit for almost seven years, before returning this season. In six games at the Major World Series, Howard batted .741 with eight home runs, 17 runs scored and a tournament-leading 25 RBIs to lead his team’s historic finish. Schulte batted .710 and made some spectacular catches in right-field, while Urbanek’s .730 batting average trailed only Howard on FBI. Schulte and Urbanek were late-season pickup to replace regular players who could not make the trip to Florida.
Fourth place finisher LaserVision/ Combat also placed three players on the All-Tournament Team – catcher Michael Dill, center-fielder Jason Kendrick, and right-fielder Seth Stephens. Dill led the team with a .765 batting average, while Kendrick’s 11 home runs were the most of any player in the tournament. Stephens batted .692 with a team-leading 21 RBIs.
Rounding out the All-Tournament Team was middle-infielder Sean McDonald of Jean Shoppe/Easton and pitcher/ extra-hitter Johnny Dykes of Suncoast/ Reebok. McDonald batted .667 with 5 home runs, and Dykes batted .588 with six home runs and 20 RBIs.
In other highlights from the tournament, Sinister/Worth third-baseman Todd Joerling became the all-time hits leader in USSSA World Series history. In 2009, Todd Martin passed Ron Parnell for the top spot before retiring with 235 hits.
Rusty Bumgardner, who is still active, was second with 232 hits but missed this year’s event with a neck injury. The long-since-retired Parnell was third with 231, and Joerling came in fourth with 229. Sinister only played three games this year and went a disappointing 1-2, but Joerling collected seven hits in those three games to surpass the three Hall of Famers ahead of him with a career total of 236.
Another veteran who made head¬lines was slugger Timmy Cocco of Jean Shoppe. The big left-hander from Kentucky put on an amazing perfor¬mance to beat all comers and win the Home Run Derby for the second year in a row. Cocco blasted home runs on 22 of 25 swings, including a perfect round in the championship. Many of the mammoth shots cleared the yellow brick wall far beyond the home run fence, a wall which may have to be re-named “Cocco’s Wall.”
The Major World Series was played before crowds that appeared larger than in previous years, and those fans were treated to mostly competitive games on the field. There was also no controversy surrounding the bat situation like 2009. All bats were tested before the tourna¬ment. Each team’s bats that passed the testing were placed in garbage cans, and only those bats could be used by the respective teams during the tourna¬ment. Logistics expert, T.R. Brockwell, oversaw the successful SlugFest, where players were able to test the new 2011 bats.
The umpiring was also consistent throughout the tournament, as usual. National UIC Rick Robertson had his regular Conference crew of Larry Lofton, Don “Toto” Lombard, Carlos Childress, Steve Christie, Dan Sullivan, Doc Beckwell, Jason Oberlag, Duane Posavetz and Tony Walczak.
Tournament Director Warren Belm from Minnesota was forced to leave the event early due to a family emergency, but veteran directors such as Danny Brown, Kevin Naegele and Bob Holland jumped in to keep the ship sailing in the right direction all the way through a perfect landing Sunday afternoon.
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