March 23, 2013
The new Street Kids/Wildman softball team opened the 2013 season in Columbus, Ohio at the GSL Mojo Madness, where over 125 teams gathered in what many called the "Daytona 500" of softball, or what could be an annual big event to start the season.
SKS returned to the site where they finished the 2012 season as GSL "B" World Series champions, and were hoping to bring some of that thunder back with them in 2013. They returned with the entire roster that won the world title in October, and bolstered it in 2013 with new additions from the Wildman team from Fort Wayne, who after several years and a NSA "A" world title, closed its doors. Head coach Matt Sheehan also joined the SKS team and became the first ever full time SKS manager (as opposed to player-managers).
Street Kids opened against Pure Romance, a USSSA conference team from Ohio. This was a defensive and pitching battle as both teams got off to slow offensive starts, but in the end - backed by 2012 SKS MVP Leland Schmucker's two homer six RBI performace - SKS prevailed, winning 14-13. Schmucker went 4-for-4, while Jeremy Hochstetler and Fred Schmucker both added three hits.
The Kids were next set to take on Bella's, a team comprised of former Columbus Pipe players (including former SKS player Mike Malesko) and some players from Goodfella's. Bella's is a personal team of Mojo founder Mark Witte, who sponsored SKS in 2012. This game was another slow offensive game, with both Faron Miller of SKS and the pitcher for Bella's keeping batters on their heels with amazing pitching. In the end, Bella's would beat SKS 13-10, handing them their first loss of the season. Leland Schmucker homered three times and an under-the-weather Joe Horvath had three hits for SKS in a losing effort.
The round robin portion of the tourney was now over, and SKS was set to play Bullshippers from Pennsylvania, another very good USSSA team. For the first three innings, this game would be close, but a nine run third inning by SKS followed by six more in the fourth and seven more in the fifth would be too much for Bullshippers, as SKS would roll to a 32-16 win. Jeremy Hochstetler backed the powerful SKS team with five hits, including two triples. Todd Mase, Scott Martin and Faron Miller all added four hits to help SKS cruise into the quarter finals of the tourney.
SKS was now set to play the team that everyone picked to win it all, the conference all star team, Creative Stucco. This team featured former Longhaul Bomber Stadium home run hitters, several current and former major players and even three former SKS players in Brandon Dillon, Scott Zaciewski and David Kessler, all former "A" and/or "B" world champions.
Stucco chose to lead off and put up 10 runs in the first inning, but SKS answered back with six in the bottom of the first, highlighted by Scott Martins long home run over the 360' mark in right center. Stucco answered back with four more in the top of the second, highlighted by Zaciewski's long home run. But just as two great teams do, they both kept battling. SKS put up eight runs in the second inning, highlighted by a three run homer by Jay Jeffery, one of his five hits in the game. After both teams went quiet in the third, they began to score again in the fourth. Stucco scored four times in the fourth; homers by Zaciewski and Fergy paced the all star team but SKS would not be outdone, as they scored seven runs in the fourth, topped off by Fred Schmuckers long grand slam over the silver monster in left field. Stucco would just be warming up though. They scored four runs in the fifth inning, and SKS tied the game with two in the bottom of the inning to make it 24-24. Then like all super teams do, Stucco got red hot.
Stucco sent 28 batters to the plate in the top of the sixth inning and mashed the ball to every part of the huge baseball sized diamond. It was as if they were playing MLB '13 on Playstation 3 on the easiest level! When the inning finally came to a close, Stucco scored 19 runs and now led 43-24. In most cases, when a major team like this takes a 19-run lead, you would drop your head and most likely lose the game. Not this team.
SKS came back with a fury, refusing to be outdone. They scored 10 runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut the lead to just nine going into the seventh inning. After they got the huge EH wearing East Coast Athletics apparel to hit into a double play, they finally retired the red hot David Kessler (who was looking for his seventh straight hit of the game) to hold the mighty Stucco team scoreless. The momentum was switching and SKS now felt they could win this game in the bottom of the seventh.
Scott Martin and Tim Austin both made the first two outs of the inning (both combined to go 8-for-11 in this game though), SKS was down to their final out. Kevin Lewandowski tripled for his fifth hit of the game, and Fred Schmucker singled him in. Faron Miller then tripled in Schmucker, collecting his sixth hit of the game and 10th straight hit of the tourney after starting out 0-for-4. After Nick Bishop doubled in Miller, Terry Patesel stepped in with the score now 43-37. He was rip his third triple of the game, and sixth of the day, to score Bishop cutting the lead to just five. The team that was down by almost 20 runs just one inning earlier was now within reach of pulling off the exciting comeback win. Jeremy Hochstetler, who already had four hits in the game, stepped up and hit an absolute rocket to third, short hopping Scott Zaciewski. But "Z" made a great pick up on and fired a strike to first baseman Moyer, just getting the sprinting Hochstetler, and ending the SKS comeback. Stucco won the game, 43-38.
"We could have easily just died after they scored 19 runs but we showed a lot of heart and I am so proud of this team," said TJ Jorgensen.
Terry Patesel and Faron Miller paced the team with six hits each, while Leland Schmucker, Jay Jeffery, Scott Martin and Kevin Lewandowski all added five hits.
Leland Schmucker picked up right where he left off last season going a near perfect 15-for-17 and picked up the power outage vacated by an ailing Joe Horvath, who did not start the last two games as he was not feeling well. Jay Jeffery (16 RBI's) also hit better than his numbers showed, as did Terry Patesel. Scott Martin (.750 avg) was hot at the plate as well and is excited for the 2013 season.
"I would put this team up against anyone," said the outfielder, who is entering his fifth season with SKS. "We have a lot of depth, defense, veteran leaders... I am really excited for this season."
After an off weekend, SKS returns to tournament action on April 6th at a festival tourney out of state.
Here is a link to over 50 pictures from the event on Facebook.
Here is a link to Dale Weiser's (DW from The Old Scout) tournament report from the major division of the event that he posted on SoftballCenter.com. This also contains a link to a video reel.