Milford, Oh.-Blitz/Weller/Watanabe/K & G/Easton outscored 3rd Street Financial/Shinetime/TPS 15-2 over the last two innings to pull out a 25-13 victory in the championship game of the Bud Light-Worth-Ohio USSSA “Open” State Tournament August 11th at Expressway Park.
3rd Street Financial/Shinetime/TPS held an 11-10 lead over Blitz/Easton after five, but eventual tournament MVP Brad Reckart cracked a three-run home run in the top of the 6th to give his club a 13-11 advantage, then Blitz broke the game open with a twelve-run explosion in the top of the 7th.
The victory completed a six-game sweep of the five-team combination round robin-single elimination affair by Blitz/Easton, who rolled to their third consecutive state title. The tournament featured teams from Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.
The champions, who outscored their opponents by a combined 107-44 margin, had mercy-ruled Elk & Elk 18-2 in the first round of elimination play.
In round robin play, Blitz/Easton had mowed down Premier Services/PRI/Bocca Billiards 13-5, 3rd Street 17-12, Elk & Elk 17-5 and Columbus Pipe/DSS Bats/Easton 19-7.
Defense, pitching, and the offensive punch provided by Brad Reckart (.800), Richie Jones (.783, 18 rbi’s), and Jimmy Carter (.696, 6 HR’s, 15 rbi’s, 15 runs scored) helped carry Blitz/Easton to the title, said manager Terry Walton.
“We made the plays we were supposed to,” said Walton. “Almost every game we started off slow offensively, but our defense and pitching held the opponent close early. Then generally midway through the game, we had an inning that gave us a chance to separate.
“Also Frank Gruber did a great job on the mound,” said Walton. “He pitched all six games. It wasn’t a typical August day temperature-wise, so it made it easy for him to do that.”
Tournament MVP Brad Reckart shined on both sides of the ball, said Walton.
“He batted leadoff for us and did a great job at the leadoff spot,” said Walton. “He’s one of our two guys this season who consistently carried a .700 OBA, and this tournament was no different. He was also solid at the middle-infield position. He only made one error on the first ball that was hit to him and made every play after that.
“Richie did a great job running everything down for us in left field,” continued Walton. “He made some nice plays in the outfield. He made three of his five outs the first two games and after that he only made two outs the rest of the tournament. He also led us in rbi’s. He drove in eighteen runs for the tournament. And of his four home runs, three of them were of the three-run variety.”
Carter’s stats also place him among the team leaders for the day.
“He batted right at .700, led us in home runs with six, was second on the team in rbi’s with fifteen, and he led us in runs scored with fifteen,” noted Walton. “And he played an excellent 1st base.”
Jones and Carter joined Reckart on the All-State Team along with Nick Masur and Frank Gruber.
“Nick did a great job for us at short, and toward the end of the tournament we moved him to the two-hole and he did a great job setting the table for the top part of the line-up,” said Walton.
Gruber “pitched all six games, which is a lot in one day, and defensively he played the middle very well,” said Walton.
“He had a few more walks than usual in the first game, but after that he settled down and pitched a great tournament. And along with our defense, he held everybody to single digits with the exception of 3rd Street,” said Walton.
In pool play, 3rd Street was the only team to score more than seven runs and the only team to come closer than eight runs to Blitz. Nick Masur homered and shared six hits with Jon Jamison in a 13-5 win over Premier Services in game one. Next Brad Reckart banged out four hits, including a home run, and Jamison and Carter homered and went 3-for-4 along with Frank Gruber, Richie Jones and Masur, as Blitz out-slugged 3rd Street 17-12. Blitz rolled past Elk & Elk 17-5 in game three as Jones collected four more hits, including a home run. Reckart and Carter also homered and combined with Jamison for nine hits. Blitz then polished off Columbus Pipe 19-7 behind four hits from Jamison and three each from Jones and Carter. Carter belted two home runs, and Jamison and Jones each connected for one.
That gave Blitz a berth into the semi-finals of the single elimination bracket, where they used three, six-run innings – the 1st, 3rd and 4th – to brush aside Elk & Elk 18-2 in five. Richie Jones launched a three-run bomb in both the 1st and the 3rd, Brad Tabler added a solo shot in the 1st, and Jay Scott blasted a three-run homer to cap off the 3rd. Brad Reckart’s two-run double highlighted the 4th.
Reckart was perfect in four trips to the plate, and Tabler and Jimmy Carter shared six hits.
After falling behind 3rd Street Financial 9-5 after four in the championship game, Blitz outscored their challenger 20-4 over the final three innings to rock 3rd Street 25-13 in an all-Cincinnati finals. The defending tournament champions went ahead for good on a three-run Brad Reckart homer that erased an 11-10 deficit in the 6th. The 7th featured a solo shot by Jason Roesch, a two-run bomb by Jason Hawkins, and two-run doubles by Brad Tabler, Jon Jamison, Richie Jones and Michael Rogers.
Reckart, Jones, Jamison and Nick Masur pounded out four hits each, and Drew Thieken chipped in with a 3-for-4 effort.
Blitz manager Terry Walton called finalist 3rd Street Financial “a classy bunch of guys.
“We want to congratulate 3rd Street on a good tournament,” said Walton. “They’re a classy bunch of guys. We always root for those guys. They have some guys who used to play for us and they’re capable of throwing up a lot of runs at any time. You have to be careful with those guys. We thought they were going to be the team to beat at that tournament. We wish them good luck at the worlds.”
Having a weekend off prior to the tournament – a luxury Blitz hasn’t enjoyed in prior years since the Cincinnati Metro Tournament had always been held over two weekends prior to this year – worked in Blitz’s favor, said Walton.
“Things were a little different this year,” noted Walton. “After a two-week long Metro, sometimes a team can get kinda drained. But this year with the Metro only being held over one weekend, I think everybody was anxious to get out and play. And to get some extra games in prior to the World was a good thing.
“We want to thank (Expressway Park manager) Bob Owens and Expressway Park for having the ‘Open’ State Tournament and giving us the opportunity to play in a state tournament against some good competition.”
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=837420