LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. – In yet another dominating performance, Resmondo/ Specialty Tank/Worth steamrolled the competition to win first place at the 2011 USSSA Men’s Major World Series, held Sept. 21-25 at Champions Stadium at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports on the grounds of Disney World.
This marked the third consecutive year for Resmondo/Worth to win the crown jewel of softball, and the sixth title in the past seven years.
“It is always very special when you win the World Series here in this stadium. This never gets old,” said John Rector, coach of Resmondo/Worth. “With all the injuries and adversity we have fought through this year, it is especially gratifying to come out on top when it counts most.”
Resmondo/Worth, based in Winter Haven, Florida, won all but one of their five games by a run-rule margin. They outscored their competition 131 to 53, for an average of 26.2 to 10.6 per game.
As the number one seed coming into the tournament, Resmondo/Worth opened on Wednesday night with a 22-5 shellacking of No. 16 seed Taylormade/Mizuno, an A team from Spotsylvania, Virginia. The following night, Resmondo/Worth crushed R&M Metals/Troupe/TCP/Easton, an A team from Waterloo, Iowa, 30-12.
In their toughest test of the tournament in the semi-finals of the winner’s bracket on Friday night, Resmondo/Worth snuck past Team 454/Worth by a narrow 15-10 margin. Team 454/Worth, from Glen Allen, Virginia, was playing on the heels of winning the 2011 USSSA Men’s Class A World Tournament just one month earlier That set up a Saturday night showdown in the finals of the winner’s bracket against LaserVision/Combat/D2E/ Supreme, a Major team from Kent, Washington. While Resmondo/Worth domi¬nated LaserVision/Combat most of the season, the Derby Boys did post one win over Resmondo/Worth at the Conference Championships so an upset was a possibility.
But it didn’t happen.
LaserVision scored two in the top of the first inning, and Resmondo answered with four so the game was still close. But when LaserVision put up a goose egg in the top of the second, Resmondo bats erupted for 19 runs in the bottom of the frame to open a commanding 23-2 lead. LaserVision was able to put up a five-spot in the top of the third, but by the bottom of the fourth inning Resmondo/Worth left LaserVision/Combat standing on the field with a 27-7 run-rule victory. Bryson Baker led the hit parade by going 4-for-4 with three home runs and 8 RBIs. B.J. Fulk and Brian Rainwater each hit a pair of home runs in the romp.
LaserVision/Combat dropped to the loser’s bracket on Sunday morning, where they faced a red-hot Taylormade/ Mizuno. Since losing to Resmondo/Worth on the opening night of the tour¬nament, the scrappy bunch from Virginia had rattled off five consecutive impres¬sive wins over WoodLaw/ Famous/Mizuno (18-16), Down2EarthSports/Worth (25-10), Suncoast/Reebok (15-14), Team 454/Worth (14-13), and the number-two seed of the tourna¬ment, GTL Cartel/Demarini, a Major team from Seattle, Washington, (21-19) to make it all the way to Sunday.
LaserVision/Combat came out uninspired on Sunday morning and Taylormade/ Mizuno took advantage of that to open a 9-0 lead after just two innings. The Combat sticks never woke up, producing a meager one run in the fourth inning and two in the fifth, before Taylormade/Mizuno closed them out by an 18-3 run-rule margin after five innings.
That left the same two team who played in the very first game of the tournament on Wednesday night playing each other again Sunday afternoon for the champion¬ship. It would not be as easy for the Sod Boys the second time around.
Resmondo/Worth lost the coin toss, so they were visi¬tors and put up five runs in the top of the first inning. Taylormade/Mizuno, perhaps nervous on the biggest of stages, did not score in the bottom of the first. Resmondo managed just one run in the top of the second, and the Mizuno crew answered with seven to take a 7-6 lead after two innings. Could the biggest upset in World Series history be in the making?
Resmondo/Worth answered that question quickly and convincingly by scoring 15 runs in the top of the third inning to re-claim a commanding 21-7 lead. To their credit, Taylormade refused to give up, by scratching out four runs in the bottom of the third, and another six runs in the bottom of the fourth. But Resmondo/Worth had another huge eruption in the top of the sixth, when they scored 13 more runs. And when Taylormade could answer with just two runs in the bottom of the frame, the game ended with a 37-19 run-rule victory for Resmondo/Worth.
Resmondo/Worth pounded an amazing 13 home runs out of the Major League-sized stadium, which is the Spring Training home of the Atlanta Braves. Baker had three home runs to lead the team, while Scott Streibel and Andy Purcell each hit two apiece. Other home runs were hit by Fulk, Greg Connell, Vince Bisbee, Howie Krause, Jeremy Isenhower and Jimmy Salas. Baker and Connell each went 5-for-6, while Purcell and Don DeDonatis each had 4 hits.
Resmondo/Worth finished with a perfect 5-0 record for the second Men’s Major World Series in a row. TaylorMade/Mizuno settled for second place with a 6-2 record and the satisfaction of being the only 16-seed in World Series history to make it all the way to the cham¬pionship game. LaserVision/ Combat came in third place with a 3-2 record, while GTL Cartel/DeMarini finished a very successful season by placing fourth also at 3-2.
B.J. Fulk and Brian Rainwater, both of Resmondo/Worth, were named Co-Most Valuable Players of the tour¬nament. Both players went 15-for-18 at the plate for identical .833 batting aver¬ages to lead their team. Fulk scored 15 runs, had 17 RBIs and belted 8 home runs, while Rainwater scored 14 runs, had 8 RBIs, and hit 4 home runs.
“I want to thank all my teammates for getting us here,” said B.J. Fulk. “This is definitely one of the high¬lights of my softball career and something I will never forget. I also want to thank Worth Sports for providing us with the best equipment in the game.”
One of the biggest surprises of the tour¬nament was the hitting of Taylormade/ Mizuno infielder Kevin Kennington, who won the Outstanding Offensive Player Award. Kennignton batted .719 with 8 home runs, 19 RBIs and 21 runs scored.
What was not a surprise was Resmondo/ Worth pitcher Andy Purcell winning the Outstanding Defensive Player Award. The pitching and defensive skills of Purcell continue to be the biggest differ¬ence seperatingResmondo/Worth and other teams in the upper level of soft¬ball.
Bryson Baker won the Home Run Champion Award by belting 9 round-trippiners during the tournament. The diminutive middle-infielder also led the tournament in RBIs with 23.
Players named to the All-World Tournament Team were Connell, Krause, Fulk, Rainwater, Purcell and Baker, from Resmondo/Worth; Robert Blackburn, Brian Floyd, Brandon Jonas, Brian Logan and Kennington, from Taylormade/ Mizuno; Brett Helmer, Brian Wegman, Seth Stephens and Rusty Bumgardner, from LaserVision/Combat; Donovan Pokraka, Chris Larson and Kevin Filby, from GTL Cartel/DeMarini; Bubba Mack, from Team 454/Worth; Aaron Middendorf, from R&M Metals/Easton; and Dustin Roberts, from Suncoast/ Reebok.
If a Courage Award had been handed out at the tournament, it would surely have gone to Resmondo shortstop Don “Junior” DeDonatis III, who played most of the tournament with a severely injured left leg. After limping noticeably during the Friday night win, DeDonatis was scheduled to see a specialist on Saturday afternoon. But he skipped out on the appointment and showed up at the ballpark anyway, refusing to come out of the lineup. The team’s sparkplug went 2-for-4 with 2 runs scored Saturday nights and 4-for-6 with 4 runs scored on Sunday, even though he limped around the bases dragging his leg reminiscent of Willis Reed in the 1970 NBA Finals.
The popular Men’s Major Home Run Derby was moved from Friday night to Saturday night due to multiple light¬ning delays early in the tournament. But when the event finally happened, it was Tim Cocco of Jean Shoppe/TPS providing the thunder and lightning. The top 16 home run hitters during the regular season, plus at-large contes¬tants from all 16 teams, were invited to participate in the competition. After several qualifying rounds, the final four included Fulk, Rainwater, Wegman and Cocco. Wegman and Cocco made the finals and Wegman blasted 5 balls out, before Cocco cranked out 7 to win the contest for the third year in a row. Cocco earned $1,000 for his efforts, while Wegman took home $500.
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