October 14, 2012
After 35 years, including the last four years of seeing them finish second in five title games, the Street Kids Softball team from South Bend are world champions.
The Street Kids/Mojo team went 5-1 including winning the last three from the losers bracket and double dipping a very good Tailgaters team from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to take home the GSL "B" world title. The Kids had impressive wins over Elk and Elk and fellow Indiana team Red's Astros, who will be a USSSA "A" conference team in 2013. In a recent poll conducted on popular message board The Old Scout, Red's was a heavy favorite to win this tournament, with 79 of the 149 votes, or 53%. Precision - who had members of the new Super B world champion Bubba's on the squad - were a distant second favorite at 21% while Columbus Pipe (9%) and Elk and Elk (8%) chimed in. Lost in the mix was the two finalists: Street Kids and Tailgaters, who both had a mere six votes, or 4% of the total. But championships are not won on message boards.
SKS was scheduled to play Columbus Pipe, a conference team from the area, but there some last minute issues with players having to miss so they were forced to forfeit. That gave the Kids their first win and set up a game against Elk and Elk, a very powerful team with a skilled USSSA style pitcher. The Kids and Elk both had big first innings; Elk coming out with seven runs and SKS answering back with six. It would be like that for most of the game until SKS opened it up with a 14-run fourth inning to take the lead, and with pitcher Faron Miller on the mound, the Kids cruised to a 25-19 win. Terry Patesel, Jeremy Hochstetler, Brandon Dillon (four home runs and 10 RBI as the designated home run hitter), Joe Horvath and Scott Martin all had four hits in the win.
The Kids would now face Tailgaters, who were coming off a big win over Red's Astros, who beat Precision earlier. Tailgaters scored often and the biggest boost was a 14-run second inning that gave them a big lead over SKS, but Street Kids didn't lay down. They battled back with eight runs in the third inning and trailing by a lot in the bottom of the seventh, they scored six runs but were unable to catch Tailgaters, and lost 29-24. Jay Jeffery led the way with five hits, including four extra base hits.
The loss dropped the Kids into the losers bracket final for the second straight week, having lost to Bubba's in the same spot in South Carolina during the NSA Super B Worlds. This time, it was a rematch with Reds Astros. Reds and SKS split in the only two games they faced each other in 2012. SKS won the first game at the NSA B Worlds in Kalamazoo and Reds got the best of SKS last week at the Super B. These are two teams that every ball player in Indiana wants to see face each other. You have Street Kids who typically do not travel that far to play in tournaments throughout the season, and you have Reds Astros, who by playing in the USSSA Conference has traveled all over and faced some of the best teams in the nation. One of their more impressive wins was when they beat major team Resmondo (widely regarded as the best team in America at any level) earlier this year.
Street Kids batted first and scored six runs, highlighted by a two run homer by Jay Jeffery. Reds answered back with just two runs in the bottom of the first and went scoreless until the bottom of the fourth, when trailing 12-2, they scored 11 runs to take the lead. Anytime you face a team like Reds, you know you have to keep scoring runs as they will keep coming at you. In the top of the fifth, SKS took the lead back with a five run inning, highlighted by a grand slam home run by Jeremy Hochstetler. But Reds were not done yet as they returned fire, scoring 10 runs in the bottom of the fifth to regain the lead, 23-17. In the top of the sixth, SKS came out slugging again, scoring eight runs, highlighted by Leland Schmuckers huge three run homer after DHH Dillon was walked.
Faron Miller shut down Reds in the bottom of the sixth and in the top of the seventh, with a slim 25-23 lead and knowing they did not have the hammer (batting last advantage), Street Kids remained red hot, scoring nine runs. Faron Miller allowed only three runs in the bottom of the seventh before shutting the door on Reds and giving the Kids a 35-27 win. Brandon Dillon led the way with six hits, while Terry Patesel and Leland Schmucker (eight RBI's) each added five hits.
SKS was now back in the finals of a world championship tournament for the sixth time in four years and the second time this year (NSA B Worlds). In order to pull off a title win, they would have to double dip (or beat twice) Tailgaters, who have been killing the ball all day. This game, along with most of the GSL B World Series games, was streamed live on SoftballCenter.com, thanks to Dale Weiser ("DW"). This first game of the finals can be seen in its entirety right now by clicking here, or by watching right on this web page now.
Above is the first game of the championship round, and below is the first inning of the "if" game, followed by the rest of the "if" game, including the completion of the tournament. Below that is some more highlights from the B championship. All videos are courtesy of Dale Weiser and SoftballCenter.com!
SKS forced the "if" game in a world championship for the second straight year, having done it last year in the NSA Super B Worlds in Indiana before losing to Hustlers. Now its the GSL "B" Worlds, only Tailgaters stood in the way of Street Kids' first ever world title.
SKS lost the flip and would be visitors again. They scored four runs in the top of the first, only to see Tailgaters answer back with seven. SKS scored four more in the top of the second, only to see Tailgaters keep scoring runs, this time four more to take a 11-8 lead. But then Street Kids began to really heat up. The first seven batters in the top of the third all would come across to score as SKS put up 14 runs in the third inning, highlighted by six home runs. The Kids took a big lead but the important thing was shutting them back down in the bottom of the inning to hold the advantage, and thats exactly what Faron and his defense did, holding them to no runs in the third.
Knowing their title could be within reach, SKS put up some more runs, scoring right more in the top of the fourth and now led 30-11. Tailgaters scored four runs to keep the game going and after SKS went quiet in the top of the fifth, they took the field with a 15-run lead, knowing Tailgaters were on the bubble, meaning they needed to score four runs to extend the game or it would be over via the mercy rule. But this game would never see the sixth inning as Jay Jeffery and the rest of the stifling defense would hold on and not allow a run and close to midnight eastern time, the Street Kids Softball team were finally world champions, defeating Tailgaters to win the GSL "B" World Series.
I remember the feeling in 2009 when Laser Show double dipped us for the NSA B world title. It stung. I remember the feeling of Pope Transport putting up 23 runs in the first inning of the ASA National Championship game in 2010 on their way to the title. I remember how bad it stung when B&J Logging double dipped us last year in Kentucky for the NSA B World title and I remember Brandon Dillon and the Hustlers surviving our near double dipping of them in last years NSA B Supers. And of course I remember Todd Fairbanks making a great play up the middle with the tying run on third to give us a second place finish at this years NSA B Worlds. Those are all memories that have sat there waiting for this night in Columbus. We had beaten a very talented Elk and Elk team. We had bested the team from Indiana that beat Resmondo in Reds Astros. And we beat an extremly talented Tailgaters team not once but twice. For anyone to say we didn't earn this world title is wrong.
Many can say that if they were the DHH and can swing away at will that they would be unstoppable, but we know thats almost impossible with the high talent of pitching. Brandon Dillon showed an unbelievable level of consistency and showed why he is one of the best players in the country. Dillon was named MVP of the GSL B Worlds, and went home with his third world title this fall (USSSA A World, NSA Super B World). Leland Schmucker continues to get better and had another big weekend, with some clutch hitting and along with Terry Patesel, Jay Jeffery, Faron Miller and Joe Horvath, was named to the All-World team.
In our final tournament of the 2012 season, we finally were able to get over the hump of finishing second. For the season, it was our record 12th tournament win of the year. Along with winning the Kiracofe in Kalamazoo for the second straight year and winning the ASA B state title for the second straight year, the GSL World Title tops another great season for Street Kids Softball. We finish the season with an overall record of 117-31, and a tournament record of 83-25.
I want to thank my teammates, the coaches, the sponsors and those that have supported the SKS program not only this year but all the years before. We will be closing out the season with our annual banquet next month (date to be announced), with our wives, families and friends. Until then, thanks to all and goodnight.
Here is a link to pictures from the GSL "B" weekend. Some photos courtesy Dale Weiser.