The USSSA ‘B’ Worlds were held September 14-16 at the Fortune Road softball complex in Kissimmee, Florida. There were 27 teams – 24 ‘B’ teams and 3 ‘C’ teams, 19 of which were from Conference USSSA. The top 5 seeds – D2E, Line drive, Reds Astros, BuziniSports, and Primetime received byes from the first round. Scoring was low on the big 325 foot fields and the 4 home run limit that each team was allowed was not often reached and upsets were commonplace.
There were a bunch of close games early in the tournament ChecKing/Worth out of Connecticut beat #5 seed Primetime 14-13 on a walk off single by veteran Justin Valenti in the bottom of the 7th. Fence Brokers tied Down2EarthSports. com on Friday night 15-15 going to the bottom of the 7th when D2E’s Leslie Griffis hit a walk off homer to beat them. In the bottom half of the bracket Westshore Pizza from Tampa, Florida used a 2 run homer by Dan Dillingham in the first inning and never looked back to beat TPS/Sports Center 11-6, and then led the whole way again in an upset win over #3 seeded Reds Astros 22-17.
SBS/ CSC/Combat from northern California used a Joe Yusko inside the park grand slam to break a 4-4 tie with 3rd Street Financial in the top of the 7th and went on to win 10-5. This set up a second round 8 AM game with Headhunters/ Cancooker out of Georgia. It would end up being one of the best games of the tournament. The game went into extra innings when SBS middle infielder Joe Yusko hit a 2 run double to tie the game in the bottom of the 7th.
In extra innings Headhunters jumped out to a 3 run lead. Then in the bottom of the 8th after a couple of walks the bases were loaded and the game winning run came to the plate in the form of Kaeo Rubin with one out for SBS. Rubin proceeded to hit the ball over the 325 foot fence in right center field but Headhunters right fielder Raley Vincent made a running/ leaping two step push off the fence to elevate himself up above it and got enough glove on the ball to knock it back into the field of play. The runners had to hold, or thought it was going to be a home run, and they only advanced one base for a long single. The next batter grounded into a double play and Headhunters won 15-13!
In the final 8 on Saturday, ChecKing won 11-4 over Buzinisports with a strong wind blowing in on field #2. D2E had a 5 run first and led the whole way against The Scene but The Scene had a chance in the 7th, coming up short in a 12-10 loss. In the bottom half of the final 8, Westshore Pizza led the whole game against Xtreme/Combat and held on 14-12, and Line drive used a Billy Barrett bottom of the 7th walk off single to beat a dejected Headhunters team after Headhunters had tied the game at 9-9 in the top of the 6th and taken the lead on a 3 run homer in the top of the 7th by Larkin Grant.
The final 4 stage was set. D2E handled ChecKing 20-7 to move to the winner’s bracket championship. In the bottom half of the bracket Westshore Pizza stunned Line drive Sportz with a 7 run bottom of the 7th to win 16-15. Shawn Zipperer had a huge pinch hit single and Joey Labriola scored all the way from first base on the hit to tie the game. Then Nick Utley won the game with a deep gap shot to right center field.
In the winner’s bracket championship game a confident D2E team found themselves in a tight low scoring contest midway through the game. Late in the game, Leslie Griffis struck again for D2E with a big 3 run homer and D2E held on to win 13-10.
On Sunday morning Buzini played Westshore Pizza in the loser’s bracket championship. The game was close and the ball quit flying in the morning heat and humidity and Westshore’s outfield was running down most everything. Then in the bottom of the 7th with the game tied at just 10 a piece, a walk, a single by Justin Stuart, and a game winning single by Kelly Hartman ended the game with a Buzini win.
In the championship D2E finally had to play from behind for the first time all tournament against Buzini and in the bottom of the 7th needed 2 runs to tie and 3 to win. A walk to Bruce Nail and a single by Leslie Griffis set up a game winning home run by veteran Geno Burdick to win the game and the ‘B’ World title for Down2EarthSports.com/ SBC/Worth! Manager/Sponsor Drew Dubberly’s first world title.
The tournament was played in humid and warm weather but overall it wasn’t bad. Conference USSSA rules with no floating rubber and no second strike foul were used. The tournament had Conference USSSA and other veteran umpires on all fields and the Fortune Road fences were 310 down the lines and 325 in LC, CF, and RC. The wind did negatively affect most fields.
There were only 4 run rule games in the tournament and 37 of the 52 games were decided by 5 or less runs!