August 25, 2012
With the GSL state championship and the NSA B Zone (Regionals) championship tournaments being canceled, members of Street Kids Mojo traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan to play in the annual church-organized charity tournament featuring 30 teams. While it wasn't the full tourney team, the goal was to get some games in while helping to raise money for area youth in the Battle Creek area.
SKS began playing in the round robin format, going a perfect 3-0, including an impressive win over former NSA C state champions The Cross to open the tournament. The tournament was set up where every team played their round robin games, then the tourney was split up into an upper and a lower, based on your record. SKS was placed in the upper and in their first game had a team that hung with them for a while, thanks to some great playing by their shortstop on both sides of the plate. In the end, it was SKS who pulled out the win, 17-12. The next game was a five inning slow paced game, where SKS just went through the motions and won 13-3.
That set up a semi final game against the host team featuring USSSA standouts Chris Kirrian, Scott Hilley and Plumbers and Pipefitters outfielder Jerry Hall. SKS actually led 19-3 at one point before slowing down and thats when the other team warmed up. They scored the next 16 runs to tie the game before SKS put up five runs in the top of the sixth, and after the other team went scoreless in the bottom of the sixth, SKS exploded for a huge inning in the top of the seventh and went on to win 32-21. The game was much closer than the score would indicate, and following the game, both teams congratulated each other on a great battle.
The championship game featured a team from Dowagiac that featured former Street Kids player from the early 90's Jeff Hainey. They battled through the other side of the bracket winning games to reach the final, including a final win over a tough team from Flint, Michigan that featured Vince Bisbee. The Dowagiac team was just as tired as SKS, but had enough energy to put up a good hitting display against SKS pitchers Jay Jeffery and Terry Patesel. In the end, SKS just could not muster enough offense and lost to Dowagiac, 12-6. It was nice to see Dowagiac march through their bracket and get the win, especially with their final two wins over good teams.
"The goal of coming up here was to get some swings and help raise money for the youth of Battle Creek," said Jay Jeffery. "Of course no one wants to lose, but to stand there and listen to Pastor Bob talk afterwards about this tourney being named after his father who was heavily involved with area youth, it makes you realize that winning was not the most important thing today, but fellowship and raising money. We all had a fun time today."
In the lower division, Elkhart team Ironman started out 0-2 in round robin play but warmed up quickly and pulled out the tournament win. Congrats to those guys as well for a great tournament run!
Jay Jeffery, Tim Austin and Chad Melcher all batted over .800 for the tournament and paced SKS (66-16 in tournaments, 100-22 overall) on Saturday.
"We had a lot of fun today," said TJ Jorgensen. "It was hot, we all were exhausted by the end of the day and it went later than we were hoping, but seeing Pastor Bob get a little emotional talking about this tournament being named after his late father made it all worth it. I hope we can come take part in this tourney every year to help benefit the youth church program here in Battle Creek."
About half of the Street Kids Mojo team will partner with members of a team in Canada (Street Kids Canada) this weekend as they travel toward our nations capital (Sterling, Virgina, just outside of Washington D.C.) for the ASA National Championship. Street Kids Canada (not including the Americans) won the NSA Canadian World Series a few weeks ago. Ryan Wood of the Canadian team contacted SKS to partner up with them for the ASA national tournament, requesting originally only a couple players, but as the tourney grew closer, more eligible players from SKS were added, and include Terry Patesel, Tim Austin, TJ Jorgensen, Shane Varga, Jeremy Hochstetler and Leland Schmucker. Because of their national ASA classification, many SKS players were unable to participate.
The ASA National Championship begins Friday at 2pm, and the bracket comes out on Tuesday morning. Follow along with Street Kids Canada on StreetKidsMojo.com and on Facebook!