Milford, Oh.—ERA Realty used a pair of late rallies to help upset three higher classified teams en route to a first place finish in a USSSA “C-D-E” National Qualifier on Wednesday, July 4th at Expressway Park.
After stunning class “C” D & S/TPS 11-6 in their opener, ERA – a U-Trip “E” team – rallied for five runs in the top of the 6th to break open a 2-2 contest and top Benton Metals/JGMMA/Elite 7-3 in game two, then used another five-run rally in the bottom of the 6th to overcome an 8-7 deficit and polish off Hitmen Softball 12-9 in the finale. Benton and the Hitmen are both USSSA “D” teams.
D & S finished 2nd in the four-team. round robin affair, the Hitmen placed 3rd and Benton wound up 4th.
The champions picked up 300 USSSA ranking points, a set of Independence Day Holiday t-shirts, a plaque, and $50 in USSSA travel expense.
Confidence, pitching, defense and timely hitting helped carry ERA to the title, said manager Dan Bush.
“Confidence was the first key because we were playing against a ‘C’ and two ‘D’ teams, said Bush. “Especially in the first game when we played against D & S and jumped out to that early lead. That definitely boosted our confidence.
“We also got good pitching from Matt Roberts,” said Bush. “He’s pitched well for us all year and definitely kept us in games with his pitching.
“And we played solid defense behind Matt’s pitching,” continued Bush. “We kept all three teams under ten runs. If you can do that, you can win a few ball games.”
Keith Treadway and Jason Hayes anchored the infield, while Zach Stapleton and Brian Robinson shined in the outfield, said Bush.
“Keith played a solid 3rd base, and Jason Hayes was solid at 2nd. Jason is very consistent and always goes after every ball. He’ll lay out and dive for the ball. He’s just a bulldog on defense,” said Bush.
Stapleton (cf) and Robinson (rf) also “played solid,” said Bush.
“This is Brian’s first year playing full time, and he’s really learned how to play the right side,” said Bush.
Timely hitting was another key, said Bush.
“Several times our rbi’s came with two outs,” Bush said.
Six of those two-out rbi’s came on two swings of the bat and at critical times, noted Bush. Brandon Sisley had a big two-out, bases-clearing triple in the top of the 6th to break open a 2-2 contest in the 7-3 win over Benton Metals. And in the 12-9 victory against the Hitmen, Matt Roberts delivered another two-out, three-run triple to break an 8-8 tie.
Zach Stapelton (.700) and Sisley (.636) paced the offense.
“Zach and Brandon led our team all day long batting third and fourth,” said Bush. “Both have been very consistent all year long.”
ERA scored three runs in each of the first three innings to jump out to a 6-2 lead over D & S/TPS in game one, then opened up a 9-2 bulge with three runs in the 5th. Rbi doubles by Kyle Totes and Brandon Sisley put their team on the board in the bottom of the 1st. Joe Becker added a two-run double in the 2nd, and Matt Roberts got into the act with a two-run double in the 3rd. The lead swelled to 9-2 on a two-run double by Zach Stapleton in the 5th and a Jason Hayes sac fly. D & S trimmed the deficit to it 9-4 with two in the top of the 6th, but ERA answered with two of their own on rbi singles by Becker and Josh Farmer in the bottom of the innning. D & S closed out the scoring with two in the top of the 7th to make the final 11-6.
Brian Robinson and Sisley banged out three hits each to lead the winners.
Next ERA and Benton Metals battled to a 2-2 stalemate through five innings in game two, but in the top of the 6th, ERA broke the game open with a five-run outburst. The inning featured a bases-clearing triple by Brandon Sisley, an rbi single by Zach Stapleton and an rbi double by Jason Hayes. Benton scored in the bottom of the inning, but both teams put up goose eggs in the 7th as ERA rolled 7-3.
Sisley, Stapleton, Hayes and Keith Treadway each went 2-for-3 to pace the offense.
Hitmen/Sugar Creek was poised to stop ERA in the finale, as they held an 8-5 lead after five and a half. But in the bottom of the 5th, ERA plated two runs to cut the deficit to one, then erupted for five runs in the bottom of the 6th to forge ahead 12-8. After Zach Stapleton’s rbi single knotted the score, Matt Roberts delivered the big blow of the tournament with a bases-loaded triple. Keith Treadway capped off the inning with an rbi single. The Hitmen scored a lone run in the top of the 7th before succumbing 12-9.
Stapleton, Jason Hayes, Treadway and Kyle Toles shared a dozen hits to power the champions.
ERA manager Dan Bush said his team’s late five-run rallies in games two and three proved to be the difference for his team.
“We have a history of a great rivalry with Benton Metals the last two or three years,” said Bush. “I bet we played them ten times last year and split the games. It’s always a great rivalry for us and they always seem to play us tough. We were just fortunate enough to rally against them and get the five runs in the 6th.
“The Hitmen jumped out early with a 6-2 lead going into the bottom of the 2nd, and we just kept clawing,” continued Bush. “We put a few runs on the board and waited for an opportunity to have a big inning and did that when Matt Roberts had a bases-clearing triple with two outs.”
But it was getting past D & S in game one that gave his club the confidence they needed to win the tournament, stated Bush.
“That was the first game of the day and definitely was a boost for our confidence,” said Bush. “You could tell those were very seasoned ball players on that team. We’re still a second year team learning the ropes. They played with class and we were very excited to win that game.”
Bush said his team has been on a roll since playing in the USSSA City Slam in early June.
“We’ve reeled off fourteen straight wins and won three tournaments,” said Bush. “Unfortunately for us in the City Slam, we hit thirteen home runs. And at our level, that’s a dagger in the heart. So we learned from that and we’ve definitely gotten hot after that tournament.”
For final standings, please paste the following url into your browser: http://www.usssa.com/sports/Tournament3.asp?TournamentID=877132