Colerain Township, Oh.—Jimmy Salas hit .778, pitcher Andy Purcell held six opponents to a combined 85 runs, and Bubba Mack hit .690 with ten home runs and 23 rbi’s to help Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth successfully defend their title in the 13th Annual Conference USSSA Cincinnati Major NIT July 20-22 at Mid-America Ballyard.
In a clash between the nation’s top two ranked teams, Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth fended off Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton 29-26 in the championship game to complete the sweep of the 36-team event.
The title was the sixth in ten Conference events for Resmondo, their third in a row, and fourth out of their last five.
Resmondo had previously disposed of Bellas 26-7, Red’s Astros/TPS/Sports Den 23-5, Line Drive/Sportz/SSS 23-19, Team 454/Emerald/Worth 22-5, and Laservision 29-23 in the winners’ bracket finals.
Salas, who went 21-for-27 to lead Resmondo in hitting, was named tournament MVP. Purcell, who held three of his team’s first four opponents to single digit scoring and only gave up more twenty or more runs against Laservision, was named the tournament’s Outstanding Defensive Player. Mack led Resmondo in both home runs with ten and rbi’s with 23.
Defense, timely hitting, and late scoring helped carry the champions to the title, said manager John Rector.
“We didn’t really hit the ball very well as a team,” said Rector, whose club averaged 25 runs per game. “But defensively, we were really good, and Andy was good. If you look at the scores of the games, I’m sure they were way down this year. Normally they’re a lot higher than that at that park than they were this year.
“Also we got some big hits at the right time in the 6th and 7th innings,” said Rector. “In our close games, we got some big hits.”
Rector called Salas “one of our best players. He has been all year. He’s probably been our most consistent player all year.”
But Purcell was the “key” to winning the tournament, said Rector.
“We didn’t hit the ball well. But the key to us was Andy holding them down. When we don’t hit the ball well, it falls on him,” said Rector.
Rector labeled Mack, one of Resmondo’s six All-Tournament selections as “the next Greg Connell.
“He’s 21-years old and he is loaded,” said Rector. “He’s got defense, power, everything. He’s got it all. We’re very happy to have gotten him. This is his first year with us and he’ll be here a long time. He’s the real deal.”
Mack was joined on the All-Tournament team by Greg Connell (.645, nine HR’s, 20 rbi’s), Don DeDonatis Jr. (.677), Bobby Hughes (.654), Jeremy Isenhower (.667, 9 HR’s, 19 rbi’s) and Scott Striebel (.696).
“Greg is probably the best all-around player in the world,” said Rector. “He’s there every weekend. When you’re the best player in the world, you have to bring it every weekend.
“DeDonatis has been struggling at the plate this year, but he’s been hurt,” pointed out Rector. “Now he’s healthy and he hit better than he has all year and we expect that to continue.”
Bobby Hughes has been “on a roll,” said Rector.
“He’s made the All-Tournament team like five times in a row, so he’s on a good roll.”
Regarding Isenhower, Rector said his team was “excited to see how he performed after he got a chance.
“He hasn’t played a lot lately, but he got in this weekend and performed great,” said Rector.
Scott Striebel is “the oldest player on our team and the veteran of the team,” said Rector.
“He’s also the most consistent player on the team every weekend. He’s really good every weekend.”
An eight-run 1st and an eleven-run 6th helped Resmondo rout Bellas 26-7 in six innings in game one. Bubba Mack cracked a three-run homer and Tim Howard added a slammer to produce seven of their team’s eight runs in the 1st. Three-run bombs by Jimmy Salas in the 3rd and B. J. Fulk in the 4th put Resmondo ahead 14-4. The Florida-based team then blew the game open in the 6th with Mack and Howard each delivering a two-run shot, and Greg Connell a three-run blast.
Andy Purcell, Fulk, and Don DeDonatis Jr. each went 4-for-5, and Howard and Mack added three hits.
Next Resmondo jumped out to a 15-3 lead over Red’s Boys on the strength of a five-run 2nd and a ten-run 3rd, and never looked back in a 23-5, five-inning spanking of the Indiana team. Jeremy Isenhower belted a two-run homer and Sean McDonald a three-run bomb in the 2nd, while two-run shots by Scott Striebel and Greg Connell capped off the 3rd. Bobby Hughes got into the act with a two-run homer in the 4th and a three-run blast to close out the scoring in the 5th.
Don DeDonatis Jr. was perfect in four trips to the plate, and Isenhower, Hughes, Bubba Mack, B. J. Fulk, Connell and McDonald chipped in with three hits apiece to pace the offense.
Resmondo ran into a hornets’ next in game three, where Line Drive took an early 9-5 lead after two. But the defending USSSA World Champions outscored the upstart Michigan team 14-2 over the next two and a half innings to forge a 19-11 lead. Timmy Howard’s two-run shot put his club ahead for good at 10-9 in a six-run 3rd. Bubba Mack’s two-run homer helped stretch the advantage to 14-9 in a three-run 4th. Then Greg Connell launched a three-run blast to cap off a five-run 5th as the lead swelled to 19-11. Line Drive rallied for five in the bottom of the 5th and three in the 6th to cut the deficit to 20-19, but solo shots by Connell, B. J. Fulk and Mack gave their team a four-run cushion, and pitcher Andy Purcell shut down Line Drive in the bottom of the 7th to preserve the win.
Jimmy Salas banged out five hits, Mack and Don DeDonatis Jr. went 4-for-5, and Connell homered three times and shared nine hits with Fulk and Scott Striebel to lead the winners.
A six-run 2nd was all Resmondo needed in a 22-5, five-inning spanking of Team 454 in game four. Jeremy Isenhower erased a 2-0 deficit and got the scoring underway with a three-run bomb in a six-run 1st. Resmondo tacked on four in the 3rd with the help of a Bobby Hughes three-run blast, and four more in the 4th as Isenhower homered to collect two more rbi’s. Resmondo erupted for eight more runs in the top of the 5th, invoking the mercy-rule with the help of only one home run – an inning opening solo shot by Greg Connell. Isenhower and Connell each contributed a two-run single, and Don DeDonatis Jr. a two-run double.
Isenhower went 4-for-4 with two home runs and seven rbi’s. Bobby Hughes, Jimmy Salas, , Bubba Mack and B. J. Fulk added three hits each.
That set up a showdown with Laservision in the winners’ bracket finals. The New York club held an early 14-11 lead after putting up three runs in the top of the 3rd to break an 11-11 tie, but Resmondo outscored their archrival 18-3 over the next three innings with five in the 3rd, three in the 4th and ten in the 5th to build a 29-17 lead, then held on for the win. Jeremy Isenhower’s two-run homer to cap off the 3rd put his team on top to stay at 16-14. Solos by Greg Connell, Andy Purcell and B. J. Fulk gave Resmondo a four-run advantage in the bottom of the 4th, then Don DeDonatis Jr. and Bubba Mack each stroked a three-run bomb and Isenhower added a two-run homer to account for eight of their team’s ten runs in the 5th. Laservision rallied for five in the 6th and one in the 7th to make the final 29-23.
Scott Striebel, Jimmy Salas, and Connell combined for fifteen hits, and Isenhower chipped in with a 4-for-5 effort and three home runs.
Laservision bounced back to send TYJA/Suncoast/Reebok packing 37-17 in the losers’ bracket finals, then took an early 8-4 lead over Resmondo in the championship game. But Resmondo exploded for nineteen runs over the next two innings with ten in the 2nd and nine in the 3rd, then added six in the 6th to fend off Laservision 29-26. The 2nd featured a two-run single by B. J. Fulk, a two-run double by Bobby Hughes, and a two-run homer by Scott Striebel. Three-run bombs by Howie Krause and Greg Connell, and a two-run Bubba Mack shot were the big blows in the 3rd as Resmondo opened up a ten-run lead at 23-13. Laservision scored the next nine runs with one in the 4th, seven in the 5th and one in the 6th to make it a one-run game at 23-22, but Resmondo answered with a six-spot in the bottom of the 6th to pull ahead 29-22. Jeremy Isenhower stroked a two-run homer to spark the rally, Hughes followed with a solo shot, Connell added an rbi single, and Andy Purcell and Fulk came through with back-to-back rbi doubles to cap off the inning. Laservision responded with four in the top of the 7th to make the final 29-26.
Krause, Connell and Purcell shared fifteen hits, and Hughes and Striebel went 4-for-5 to power the champions.
Resmondo manager John Rector said his team was “fortunate” to escape Line Drive in game three, and to survive a pair of “uncharacteristic” games with Laservision in the winners’ bracket finals and finals.
“I was very impressed with the way those kids competed,” said Rector of Line Drive. “That team is very good and they are not intimidated. We were very fortunate to get out of there with a win.”
Rector said it was a “weird weekend” at Mid-America because of “how the runs were down.
“I don’t get it,” said Rector. “When we play Laservision the scores are normally in the thirties and forties.”
A huge ten-run 5th proved to be the difference in the first finals, said Rector.
“Basically when we scored ten in the bottom of the 5th, they struggled to catch us after that.”
Then in the finals, Rector said the two slow pitch leviathans “kept each other in the game.
“Neither one of us opened up and swung the bat,” said Rector. “We kept each other in the game because both of us were so cautious. I don’t think either one of us hit the (home run) limit.
“We’ve had success against them – I think we’re like 8-3 against them for the year – but it was a very uncharacteristic game between us and them. Normally they’re very high-scoring games.”
Rector said his team has been on a roll – winning three Conference USSSA titles in a row and four out of their last five – “since we got healthy and Andy Purcell has been back.
“When Andy got hurt we got beat in Dallas and in Chicago. But now we’ve won the Dudley and the Smoky and now Cincinnati, and Travis (sponsor Travis Resmondo) and I are very happy with the players and the way things are going. And we’re confident things are going to continue going this way, and there’s nothing to make us think it won’t. There’s only one more NIT in Detroit, then the only thing left is the Conference Championship and the World, and with the success we’ve had in the past at Disney, the future looks bright.”
Rector concluded by saluting Mid-America Ballyard and owner Brian Wegman “for a nice job with all the work that’s been done at the park” since Resmondo played there a year ago.
“The infields used to be terrible but they were great this weekend,” said Rector. “We were pleased to play on them. And with the atmosphere there at that park it’s always fun.”
For final standings, tournament game scores and all-tournament team, please paste the following url into your browser: http://www.usssa.com/sports/Tournament3.asp?TournamentID=860755