Premier Services/Louisville Slugger Outlasts Action Sports/VHC/Miken 18-9 In USSSA Great Lakes Men’s “C” Second Finals At Expressway Park

Milford, Oh.–Premier Services/Louisville Slugger held off Action Sports/VHC/Miken 18-9 in the second championship game to capture first place in the USSSA Great Lakes Division Men’s “C” National Tournament August 30-31 at Expressway Park.

 

Action Sports had forced an “if” game with a 12-9 victory over Premier in the first finals.

 

Premier Services went 4-1 in the eleven-team affair, out-slugging Dizzy 19-17 in game one, then mercy-ruling Fred’s Boys/T & W Electric/Louisville Slugger 21-6 and Action Sports 25-8 in the winners’ bracket finals.

 

The champions outscored their opponents by a 92-52 margin en route to the title.

 

Action Sports was awarded a paid berth to the USSSA “C” World Tournament September 18-21 in Kissimmee, Fl.

 

The offensive punch provided by Brad Ballinger (.824) and Mike Snider (.750), and the pitching of Frank Gruber were the keys to winning the tournament, said Premier sponsor-manager Kevin Forwith.

Tournament MVP’s Andy Young, left, of Action Sports/VHC/Miken, and Brad Balllinger, right, of Premier Services/Louisville Slugger. Photo by Mike McNutt.

Tournament MVP’s Andy Young, left, of Action Sports/VHC/Miken, and Brad Balllinger, right, of Premier Services/Louisville Slugger. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

“Timely hitting by Brad and Mike kinda carried us all weekend long,” said Forwith.  “Brad only made two outs in the whole tournament, and Mike only made three outs.

 

“Also Frank Gruber’s pitching kept us in every game til we could pick up our hitting and get some distance in between teams,” added Forwith.

 

Premier also got a spark from Craig Patterson.

 

“He was our leader on the bench, keeping all the guys in each game and keeping them up and keeping a positive attitude,” said Forwith.

 

Ballinger was named Tournament MVP “for his consistent hitting all weekend long.

 

“He stepped up in clutch situations and delivered a hit or a home run every time,” said Forwith.  “And he made two nice defensive plays in left field.”

 

Frank Gruber was named the tournament’s Defensive MVP.

Premier Services/Louisville Slugger’s Frank Gruber was named the tournament’s Defensive MVP. Photo by Mike McNutt.

Premier Services/Louisville Slugger’s Frank Gruber was named the tournament’s Defensive MVP. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

“He pitched all five games and fielded the middle really well,” said Forwith.

 

Gruber also held three of Premier’s opponents to single digit scoring.

 

Joining Ballinger and Gruber on the All-Tournament Team were Mike Snider (.750), Brad Bruns (.685), Alex Rulon (.667) and Steve Atkinson (.659).

 

“Mike was named for his outstanding hitting,” said Forwith.  “When Brad (Ballinger) got a hit, Mike kept the momentum going in each game by hitting right behind him.  Brad (Bruns) was also named for his hitting as well as some key home runs in each game.  Also for his play in right field.”

 

Alex Rulon “was consistently setting the table for our guys with his hitting and he played a solid 3rd base,” said Forwith.  “And Steve had a lot of timely hits as well and played solid at 1st.”

 

Premier barely survived its first game, rallying to outscore a stubborn Dizzy team 9-6 over the final three innings to overcome an 11-10 deficit and pull out a 19-17 victory.  Premier used a five-run outburst in the top of the 5th to take the lead for good.  A base hit by Pat Foster tied the game, then Mike Snider singled in the go-ahead run.  Chuck Lack followed with a three-run blast to give his club a four-run cushion at 15-11.  Then in the 6th Steve Atkinson had a two-run shot to make it a 17-12 game.  Dizzy answered with two to trim the lead down to three, but a sac fly by Josh Powell and a Frank Gruber rbi single offset that in the top of the 7th.  Dizzy closed out the scoring with three in the bottom of the inning to make the final 19-17.

 

Snider pounded out five hits, Alex Rulon and Ryan Uckotter added four each, and Brad Ballinger chipped in three to pace the offense.

 

Next Premier used a twelve-run 3rd and a seven-run 4th to overpower Fred’s Boys 21-6 in five.  Chuck Lack launched a three-run bomb to erase a 4-2 deficit in the 3rd.  A three-run homer by Brad Bruns boosted the advantage to 9-4, then later in the inning Mike Snider delivered a two-run double and Josh Powell a two-run single as the lead swelled to 14-4.  The 4th featured an rbi double by Alex Rulon and a two-run double by Lack.

 

Pat Foster and Snider were both perfect in four trips to the plate, and Frank Gruber, Brad Ballinger and Rulon each went 2-for-3.

 

Premier scored in every inning in a 25-8, five-inning spanking of Action Sports in the winners’ bracket finals.  Trailing 3-1 after one, Premier exploded for seven in the 2nd, four in the 3rd, six in the 4th and seven in the 5th.  Pat Foster knotted the score at 3-3 with a base hit in the 2nd, then Brad Ballinger singled in the go-ahead run.  Mike Snider and Josh Powell capped off the inning with back-to-back two-run doubles.  Snider doubled in two more runs in the 3rd, then in the 4th Brad Bruns and Jordan Rosenbalm both belted three-run homers.  The 5th was highlighted by a leadoff solo shot by Chuck Lack and a pair of two-run doubles – one by Bruns and the other by Brad Ballinger.

 

Alex Rulon and Powell combined for eight hits, and Bruns, Ballinger and Steve Atkinson chipped in with three hits apiece.

 

Action Sports bounced back to knock off EAP/Goodtimers II 14-11 in the losers’ bracket finals, then ambushed Premier 12-9 in the first championship game.  Action never trailed against Premier after putting up four runs in the top of the 1st.

 

But Premier’s bats came back to life in the second finals.  After falling behind 4-1 after an inning and a half, Premier outscored Action 17-5 over the next five innings to emerge with a convincing 18-9 victory.  Premier  went on top to stay with a six-run 2nd, then tacked on four in the 4th, five in the 5th and two in the 6th.  After a sac fly by Alex Rulon tied the game at 4-4, Jordan Rosenbalm had a two-run double to lift Premier into the lead at 6-4.  Foster then singled to chase Rosenbalm home.  Brad Ballinger’s two-run double capped off the four-run 4th, then in the 5th Kyle Jamison had an rbi double, Brad Bruns a two-run homer and Rosenbalm picked up his second two-run double of the game as the lead swelled to 16-7.  Jamison knocked in another run with a sac fly in the 6th, and Brad Bruns added an rbi single.

 

Steve Atkinson and Bruns banged out four hits each, and Ballinger and Pat Foster shared six hits to power the champions.

 

Frank Gruber was clearly the difference-maker in the second finals, said Premier’s Kevin Forwith.

 

“He really pitched well that game,” he said.  “He limited their home runs and men on base, he didn’t walk anybody, and really just didn’t let them get their offense going.”

 

Forwith credited Action Sports manager Donnie Brewer with his team’s win over Premier n the first finals.

 

“He really positioned his defense well,” said Forwith.  “Their pitcher pitched to his defense well that game and kinda shut us down.  We were hitting it right at them.  They hit when they had to and they played really good defense.  They played really well that game.”

 

The pivotal game of the tournament, however, was Premier’s win over Fred’s Boys, said Forwith.

 

“We’ve gone back and forth with them all year,” said Forwith.  “I think with the bad weather coming in and not having to play a second game on Saturday night kinda helped us.  And jumping out on them really helped us gain the momentum for Sunday.”

 

Forwith concluded by thanking Expressway Park for a well-run event.

 

“I’d like to thank (Park Manager) Bob Owens and his staff for keeping the fields in good shape through the rain and keeping the games on time considering all the rain we had,” said Forwith.

 

“I also want to thank all the teams for their outstanding sportsmanship,” he added.  “It was an outstanding tournament with the sportsmanship everyone showed.”

 

 

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=1092340

 

This article is also available for viewing at www.ohiousssasoftball.com.

 

Premier Services/Louisville Slugger outlasted Action Sports/VHC/Miken 18-9 in the second championship game to capture first place in the USSSA Great Lakes Division Men’s Class “C” National Tournament August 30-31 at Expressway Park.  In the front row, left to right, are Jordan Rosenbalm, Alex Rulon, Brad Bruns, Frank Gruber, and Craig Patterson.  In the middle row are Kevin Forwith, Ryan Uckotter, Brad Ballinger,  Mike Snider, Patrick Foster, and Aaron Brewster.  In the back row are Jon Mulvihill, Kyle Jamison, Josh Powell, Steve Atkinson, Chuck Lack, Adam Littman, and Tony Lack.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Premier Services/Louisville Slugger outlasted Action Sports/VHC/Miken 18-9 in the second championship game to capture first place in the USSSA Great Lakes Division Men’s Class “C” National Tournament August 30-31 at Expressway Park. In the front row, left to right, are Jordan Rosenbalm, Alex Rulon, Brad Bruns, Frank Gruber, and Craig Patterson. In the middle row are Kevin Forwith, Ryan Uckotter, Brad Ballinger, Mike Snider, Patrick Foster, and Aaron Brewster. In the back row are Jon Mulvihill, Kyle Jamison, Josh Powell, Steve Atkinson, Chuck Lack, Adam Littman, and Tony Lack. Photo by Mike McNutt.

Action Sports/VHC/Miken went 4-2 en route to a runner-up finish in the USSSA Great Lakes Division Men’s Class “C” National Tournament August 30-31 at Expressway Park.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Action Sports/VHC/Miken went 4-2 en route to a runner-up finish in the USSSA Great Lakes Division Men’s Class “C” National Tournament August 30-31 at Expressway Park. Photo by Mike McNutt.