September 1, 2012
The Street Kids Mojo team merged with players from our northern neighbors this past Labor Day weekend for the ASA "C" National Championship tournament, just outside our nations capital in Sterling, Virginia. Six members of the recently crowned Canadian World Champions Street Kids Canada, met seven players from the SKS team to make a run at the national title. To qualify for the event, only players who were ranked "C" nationally through ASA were allowed to come, along with up to three "B" ranked players. Those coming from SKS were Terry Patesel, TJ Jorgensen, Jeremy Hochstetler, Leland Schmucher, Fred Schmucher, Tim Austin and Shane Varga. From the Canadian team were Ryan Wood, Matt Barrett, Scott Foster, Joe Fansher, John Chappell and Ritchie Hildabrandt.
The team opened the event on Friday afternoon against Gills Auto from New Hampshire, and Street Kids got red hot right off the back, scoring eight runs in the first and went on to win, 22-5. Terry Patesel, Jeremy Hochstetler and Leland Schmucher all had four hits in the win.
After a couple hour break, the Kids were pitted against Extra Innings. The Kids came out flat in this one, but thankfully their defense was solid and the game remained close. In the fifth inning, Extra put up 10 runs - their first runs of the game - to take a 10-5 lead, but SKS answered back with nine in the top of the sixth and three more in the seventh and went on to win 17-12. Fred Schmucher led the way with four hits.
The Kids were now done for Friday and were set to play in the third round game against Action Moving on Saturday at 4:45pm in the afternoon. Again, SKS came out slow while the opposition came out strong. Action put up 13 runs in the first two innings and 10 more in the third inning. SKS tried to mount a comeback, scoring six in the fourth and six more in the fifth, but it would be enough as Action would advance to Sunday's winners bracket semi final with a 25-15 win. The Kids had some hits in this one, but no timely hitting and hit into two crucial double plays that stopped any kind of potential run. Terry Patesel thought the Action Moving team flat out-played SKS.
"We ran into a buzzsaw," said the veteran Patesel, who just turned 47 this past month. "These guys hit the ball wherever they wanted and their defense was awesome also. They deserved to win and I would not be surprised if this team went fairly deep in the tournament."
The loss dropped the Kids into the losers bracket, where they played Faddy Malone's, a good team from the east coast who lost their first game but won the next three in the losers bracket. This time, SKS came out strong, taking an early 10-4 lead. Faddy's kept coming back, chipping away with a run here and there, but the problem was, SKS was unable to keep scoring. After scoring seven runs in the second inning, SKS didn't score again until Leland Schmucher drove in Terry Patesel with a sacrafice fly in the sixth inning. Meanwhile, Faddy's got hot, scoring 11 runs in the bottom of the sixth and despite scoring four runs in the top of the seventh, the Kids would fall 17-15, ending their national championship run.
There were some bright spots for SK Canada in this tourney, including Leland Schmucher, who batted .867, Shane Varga who batted .700 and Canadian John Chappell, who led the team with six home runs and 19 RBI's and batting .688. But in the end, the biggest stat that stood out was the .595 team batting average.
"We just could not get any consistent run scoring innings going when we needed it," said TJ Jorgensen of SKS. "We hit a lot of fly balls and just couldn't get the big break when we needed it."
While the Kids did go a respectable 2-2 this weekend, it was a big move in the weekend merger of two countries joining forces right outside Washington D.C. Several people were unsure how this would be received, including the players themselves, but it was a great mix of talent and team chemistry. The guys from the north represented their country with class and decency, and the players for the US were excellent hosts and extended a great friendship that with hope will last for years to come. One downside to the event is the way one ASA official acted toward the team regarding the Canadian players being able to participate.
"We knew that putting together something like this would not go without raising a few eye brows," Jorgensen said. "But I was embarrassed for our Canadian teammates during check in. One of the players even felt like the official was basically treating him like a cheater because he was Canadian. I felt like this was an opportunity for ASA to show how happy they were to have these guys here and welcome them. Instead one guy was very short and rude and at one point said that Canadian players should not be allowed to play ASA in the states. The overall experience with this event was great, most of the directors were very nice, and the umpires were professional and courteous to everyone, but a poor example was shown to our Canadian teammates, and I just hope they don't go back to their country thinking that the way this one guy acted represented the entire ASA."
Street Kids were proud to team up with players from Canada and hope we can get together again soon for another event. The players did win a national title under the Street Kids Canada name a month ago, so hopefully these guys can carry the SKS name and experience with them in the future.
To see lots of pictures from the event, visit the SKS Facebook page