Milford, Oh.—LineDrive/NewGen tripped up Noles 3-2 and 14-4 in a double finals to capture first place in a USSSA “E” Super Qualifier on Saturday, July 14th at Expressway Park.
The two victories over Noles wrapped up a 5-1 weekend for the champions, who suffered a tough 10-9, twelve inning setback to Noles in the winners’ bracket finals before bouncing back to oust Roverplusnine 11-1 in the losers’ bracket finals, then double-dipping Noles in the finals.
Previously LineDrive had disposed of Big Frickin’ Roosters, rallying for three runs over the final two innings to pull out a 10-8 victory, and Southwest Ohio Ducks 13-1 in six innings.
The champions picked up a set of pullovers, a team trophy, and $500 in USSSA travel expense, while the Noles left Expressway with a paid berth to the USSSA “E” World Tournament September 27-30 in Kissimmee, Fl. LineDrive had previously earned a paid World berth.
“Pitching and clutch hitting” helped carry LineDrive to the title, said player-manager Michael Hoffert.
“Brandon Riley kept us in every game, as usual,” said Hoffert. “He was very consistent and had very few walks. He only walked two batters the whole tournament and he’s one of our leaders on the field. I think he’s one of the top pitchers in this area.
“Also we had a lot of clutch hits late in ball games when we needed them,” said Hoffert. “Guys stepped up with a lot of two-out hits with runners in scoring position. We scored a lot of runs with two outs.”
Defensively, “Todd Burger was lock down in centerfield and Jonathan Roberts, my shortstop, just flat out nailed it,” said Hoffert. “He was solid.”
Nate Decker, who hit a blistering .842 for the day, was named tournament MVP.
“He flat-out killed the ball all day,” said Hoffert. “He had everybody going and had everybody up. He’s a leader and one of the veterans on this team.”
Todd Burger followed Decker with a .737 tournament.
“He’s our leadoff hitter,” said Hoffert. “He’s made the transition to the leadoff spot in our last three tournaments and has been lighting things up and making things happen in that role. He’s taken on that role very well and has been a leader on our team.”
LineDrive needed to rally for three runs in their final two at bats to overcome an 8-7 deficit and pull out a 10-8 victory over Big Frickin’ Roosters in game one. An rbi single by Jonathan Roberts knotted the score in the top of the 6th, then Braden McCain doubled home Roberts with the go-ahead run. LineDrive tacked on an insurance run in the top of the 7th to close out the scoring.
Nate Decker and Todd Burger banged out three hits each to pace the offense.
Next LineDrive scored in every inning as they mercy-ruled Southwest Ohio Ducks 13-1 in six innings in game two. An rbi single by Mark Humbel and a Nate Decker sac fly put their club on the board in the bottom of the 1st. The Ducks answered with a run in the top of the 2nd, but Brandon Riley offset that with an rbi single in the bottom of the inning. An rbi double by Decker was the big blow in a two-run 3rd. The Ducks added a run in the 4th, then began to pull away with three in the 5th and four in the 6th. The 5th featured an rbi double by Dennis Schlacter and an rbi triple by Todd Burger. Riley delivered a big two-run triple in the 6th. Two batter’s later Todd Burger had a walk-off single to bring down the curtain.
Burger and Jonathan Roberts each went 3-for-4 to lead the winners.
That lifted LineDrive into the winners’ bracket finals, where Noles ambushed the eventual champions 10-9 in twelve innings, scoring the game winner on a two-out rbi single in the bottom of the 12th.
In the losers’ bracket finals, LineDrive needed just five innings to mercy-rule Roverplusnine 11-1. The winners jumped out to an 8-1 lead after three with two runs in the 1st, two in the 2nd and four in the 3rd and never looked back. Nate Decker doubled in a run and scored on Clayton Vaughan’s triple in the 1st. A two-run double by Dennis Schlacter and a Todd Burger rbi triple highlighted the four run 3rd. LineDrive tacked on two in the 4th and one in the 5th.
Decker and Brandon Riley each went 3-for-4.
Noles appeared to be poised to complete the sweep in the finals, as they made a two-run 1st hold up until the top of the 7th. But in the 7th with two outs, LineDrive’s Michael Hoffert tripled home Dennis Schlacter to cut the lead to one at 2-1, then scored the tying run on Todd Burger’s rbi single. Noles then put up their sixth straight goose egg in the bottom of the 7th, and LineDrive capitalized on it in the top of the 8th, as Mark Humbel tripled and scored on Justin Martin’s base hit. Pitcher Brandon Riley held Noles at bay in the bottom of the 8th to preserve the win and force the “if” game. Humbel collected three hits.
Noles drew first blood with four runs in the top of the 1st in the second finals, but just like in the first finals, their offense suddenly went into a coma for the rest of the contest. Meanwhile LineDrive began chipping away at the lead, putting up one in the 1st and two in the 2nd before taking the lead for good with three in the 3rd. Michael Hoffert’s two-run triple put his team on top to stay at 5-4. Justin Martin followed with an rbi single. LineDrive then pulled away with six in the 5th and two in the 6th to invoke the mercy-rule at 14-4.
Jonathan Roberts and Nate Decker pounded out three hits each to power the champions.
LineDrive manager Michael Hoffert said his team’s experience enabled it to remain focused after falling to Noles in the winners’ bracket finals.
“We’ve been in that situation before where we’ve needed to double-dip somebody, so that’s one of our strengths,” said Hoffert.
Hoffert said his team has been building momentum heading into post-season play.
“We’ve been jelling as a team in our last twelve tournaments,” said Hoffert. “We’ve been on a tear. We’re jelling and coming together as a team.”
Hoffert concluded by expressing his team’s gratitude to host Expressway Park and LineDrive’s sponsor.
“We want to thank Expressway Park for getting the fields ready after the rain we had,” said Hoffert. “They really got them playable fast. We also want to thank our sponsor, Eye Care Optical.”
For final standings, please paste the following url into your browser: http://www.usssa.com/sports/Tournament3.asp?TournamentID=835802