Mt. Healthy, Oh.—Wickedsports.net/Darkhorse outscored three opponents by a combined 60-24 margin en route to a first place finish in a Worth-Bud Light-USSSA “D-E” State-National Qualifier on Sunday, April 22nd at Kolping Park.
Wickedsports.net/Darkhorse sandwiched a 15-6 spanking of runner-up Pope Athletics (2-1) between a pair of mercy-rule wins en route to the title. The champions pounded Eaton Beavers (1-2) 25-10 in their opener, and later polished off RSC/ALM/Easton (0-3) 20-8. Both games only lasted five innings.
Wickedsports picked up their USSSA “D” State (August 18-19) and National Tournament (Labor Day Weekend) berths plus $50 in USSSA travel expense for their efforts.
The winners averaged 20 runs per game and five runs per inning on the way to the championship.
“We hit the ball well and our defense played very good,” summed up player-manager Chris Edds.
Wickedsports gave up only eight runs per game.
Edds, Alex Rulon (.818), and Josh Powell and Josh Ridings (.800) powered the champions.
“Alex put a ton of work in during the off-season and so far this year it’s paid off,” said Edds. “He has the second highest average on the team and he’s turned into a great ball player.”
Powell’s performance is nothing new, said Edds.
“That’s pretty consistent for him. He’s a great ball player and a great hitter, and he’s stepped up his defense a lot this year and has been a solid team player.”
Edds praised Ridings for his “clutch hitting.
“He’s been huge this season for us with his clutch hitting,” said Edds. “When we’ve needed him to come through in the clutch he’s definitely done it. And his defense has been spectacular.”
Powell (ss) and Rulon (3b) anchored the infield defense, while Blair Willcocks (cf) shined in the outfield, said Edds.
“Our whole infield has completely changed from last year,” said Edds. “Every position is just equally solid. Josh is just a good defender, and Alex has shown improvements from the off-season that have paid off coming into this year.”
Edds had high praise for Blair Willcocks’s outfield play.
“His ability to cover ground in the outfield is just spectacular. He’s a key asset to our team running a three-man outfield,” said Edds.
The Eaton Beavers set Wickedsports on their heels with seven runs in the 1st and one in the 2nd to take an early 8-0 lead in game one. But Wickedsports exploded for thirteen runs in the bottom of the 2nd, then blew the game open with five in the 4th and seven in the 5th on their way to a five-inning, 25-10 drilling of the Beavers. A Dave Edwards slammer sliced into the Beavers’ lead and helped trim the deficit down to two. After a base-on-balls to Chris Edds forced in the tying run, Kyle Jamison put his club ahead to stay with a two-run single. Jason Wesselman followed with a two-run triple, then Edwards collected another rbi with a base hit to cap off the inning. The lead swelled to 18-8 on the strength of two sac flies, a walk and a pair of rbi singles in the 4th. The 5th featured a two-run double by Jamison, a two-run single by Josh Riddings, and a walk-off rbi single by Chuck Kenney.
Edds, Jamison, Wesselman and Edwards were all perfect in four trips to the plate. Alex Rulon chipped in with three hits.
Next Wickedsports jumped out to a 7-0 lead with three in the 1st and four in the 2nd, then pulled away with a three-run 5th and a four-run 7th to dispose of Pope Athletics 15-6. Kyle Jamison put his club on the board with a two-run double in the 1st. Jeff Davis had a two-run triple, Josh Powell an rbi single, and Marcus Couch an rbi double to account for their club’s four runs in the 2nd. After Pope cut the lead down to two with a five-run 3rd, Josh Powell answered with a three-run bomb in the 5th to open up a 10-5 cushion. Powell struck again in the 7th with a bases-clearing double.
Powell pounded out four hits, and Alex Rulon went 3-for-4 to pace the offense.
With the championship clinched, Wickedsports aired it out against RSC/ALM in their finale, erupting for ten in the 1st, three in the 2nd and seven in the 3rd en route to a lopsided 20-8, five inning spanking. A three-run blast by Chris Edds and a bases-clearing triple by Chris Herzog was the big blow in the 1st, while Dave Edwards’ two-run triple highlighted the 2nd. Edds padded his rbi total with a three-run double in the 3rd. Jason Wesselman followed with an rbi double, and Josh Ridings and Herzog added rbi singles to cap off the inning.
Edds, Ridings, Alex Rulon and Jeff Davis combined for a dozen hits to power the champions. Blair Willcocks went 2-for-2.
Was Wickedsports surprised to walk through the tournament with such ease?
“We were,” said manager Chris Edds. “We didn’t know much about the Beavers or RSC. Both looked like very good teams. Eaton came out in the 1st inning on us and hit the ball well. We thought that would set the pace for the game. But our defense stepped up and when we came out in the 2nd inning and put up thirteen runs, it put a halt to their momentum.
“It was good to see our team respond to a big inning put up by a team. They came out hitting,” said Edds.
“It was another well-run tournament at Kolping Park,” summed up Edds. “Everything was great and the fields looked good.”