The Street Kids/Wildman/Kote It softball team remained red hot this weekend, going a perfect 5-0 and winning the Flag Day Memorial tournament in Three Oaks, Michigan for the third time in four years and the fourth time in the last seven. They won every game by the mercy rule, never playing seven innings in one game, but a couple of the games were close until SKS blew it open with some hot offense late.
Street Kids opened Friday night in front of hundreds of people against an overmatched young All Star Performance team out of Buchanan, Michigan. SKS only brought in 10 players for this game, not wanting players to travel in for one game Friday night. Former long time SKS player Joe Richard (brother of current SK player Terrty Patesel) helped the team out Friday night going 4-for-4 with two home runs in his return to his former team as the Kids won 27-7. Jay Jeffery went 5-for-5, and Todd Mase, Nick Bishop and Fred Schmucker all added four hits in the win.
Featherbone, who finished second in this tournament last year and playing for a fallen pitcher who passed away this year, played a hard fought game against Filthy Softball out of Illinois, but Filthy pulled it out and won the game to reach the second round against SKS. Later that night, some of the Filthy players were having a few drinks and let some SKS players know they were planning to win and were pretty confident, even to the point where some pushing and shoving to play in the parking lot. So there was some excitement leading up to the 4pm Saturday second round game between SKS and Filthy, and the excitement would turn into an offensive explosion for SKS from the very first pitch.
Street Kids put up 23 runs in the first inning and cruised to a crushing 37-7 win over Filthy, sending them to the losers bracket, where they would lose the next game and be sent back to Illinois, perhaps more humbled. Kevin Lewandowski, who had four hits in the game, thought the team came out a little inspired following Friday nights squirmish.
"I think it fired us up, for sure," said the former ASA All American. "There is nothing wrong with being confident, but this team had a few too many and came into our backyard from Illinois trying to start shit. Our whole team came out strong and let them know if you want to talk smack like that, prepare to back it up. They couldn't."
Terry Patesel, the designated home run hitter (GSL rules), went 5-for-5 with three home runs and nine RBI's, while Nick Bishop added five hits, including his first home run of the season. SKS scored 23 in the first inning, four in the second inning and 10 more in the third inning against Filthy, a GSL "C" team.
Following the win, SKS was set to play a third round game against Team Nobody, a collection of good players from the Michigan City area, including long time slugger Marty Hernandez and former SKS player Jeremy Meadows. Nobody had a young team, but picked up some impressive wins to reach the third round. SKS came out strong, and actually led 19-8 at one point, but Nobody began to get fired up, playing with some excitement and battled back to bring it within a run at 19-18. The crowd was getting into the game as well, and for the first time this weekend, SKS was looking at a very good game. But in the fifth inning, SKS got hot, putting up eight runs and walking off with a three run home run by Fred Schmucker, beating Nobody by the mercy rule, 29-18. Schmucker, Nick Bishop, Terry Patesel and Kevin Lewandowski all had four hits in the win that sent SKS to the winners bracket finals on Sunday morning.
Honey Badgers/DeMarini of the Grand Rapids area - who beat SKS in Columbus back on April 13th - beat Region Softball on Saturday night to reach the winners bracket finals against SKS on Sunday morning. This was a game of defense and pitching for about four innings with the teams keeping the game close before SKS put up seven runs in the bottom of the fifth to mercy HB, winning 17-7. Tim Austin led the way with three hits, including the walk off three run home run in the fifth, his second of the game. Austin came into the tourney with no home runs this season, but ended with four, including the huge walk off against Honey Badgers.
"Its hard to call it a big walk off when you win by 10, but given who we are playing and knowing that at any point in time they are capable of putting up 10 runs in an inning, it was a huge hit," said TJ Jorgensen of SKS.
The win put the Kids in the finals, awaiting several teams to work their way back through the losers bracket. The losers bracket final came down to Region and Honey Badgers again, with Honey Badgers pulling out the win. In a scary moment following that game, HB's pitcher Pook Filkins experienced a severe case of heat exhaustion, causing him to black out and vomit. An ambulance was called to make sure he would be fine, and eventually he was taken home to Grand Rapids by his wife and despite being very sore today, we are happy to report that Pook should be ok. Several members of SKS came to check on Pook even as the final game was started. After all, this is just a game, and Pook is a friend to everyone.
The championship game was now set between Honey Badgers and Street Kids Softball. HB was a little off now knowing that they would not have Pook, their pitcher, on the mound and had to go with a back up. While he did do a good job, he did manage seven walks, six in the first two innings and SKS took advantage, leading 10-6 after three innings. In the top of the fourth, SKS put up five runs, highlighted by a three run double by Todd Mase. HB answered back with two runs in their half of the fourth inning with a two run home run by the legendary Carl Underwood, who at 55 years old, is still one of the most feared power hitters in the game today. Unfortuneatly for HB's that would be the last runs they would score. SKS put up eight runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 24-8 lead and HB's would go quietly in the bottom of the fifth as Street Kids Softball would win the game and the 2013 Flag Day Memorial title.
Terry Patesel and Todd Mase both had five hits in the win, while Fred Schmucker and Joe Peelle added four for the victorious SKS team. Patesel, who batted .889, was named tourney MVP and Fred Schmucker, Tim Austin, Joe Peelle and Kevin Lewandowski all were named to the all-tourney team. It was Patesel's first tourney MVP of the season. It was Fred Schmucker's team high fourth all-tourney selection of the season.
The Street Kids team (32-4 overall) have now won five straight tournaments and six on the season. They have won 22 straight tournament games, tying the team record set in 2011. The last tourney loss was back on April 13th against 22 Below when they were eliminated from the first NSA Directors Cup in Columbus, Ohio, a span of over two months. Including the five wins in Three Oaks this weekend, the SKS team has won nine straight games by the mercy rule, including impressive wins over teams like Honey Badgers, Synergy, and Cedar Creek - all three ASA Class "B" teams.
Up next for SKS will be the NSA Directors Cup Championship in Kalamazoo on June 29-30. SKS - who is currently the top seed in the Cup standings - will most likely drop to the number two seed after next weekend when 22 Below, the current number two seed, plays in the final Cup event in Cincinnati next weekend. 22 Below is only 50 points behind SKS following their second place finish in Potterville, Michigan's Cup event this past weekend.