Story and Photos by Dale Weiser
The 2020 Major slow pitch season kicked off with its first signature event of the year – the Hall of Fame Classic Dual which was supposed to be played in April but was instead played in June due to the Coronavirus shutdowns. 30 of the top teams in the nation including 28 from the Nationwide Conference USSSA took to the all-turf baseball fields in Viera, Florida with their 335-365-385-365-335 home run fence dimensions. The teams traveled from 18 different states. The big story of the first Dual which started on Thursday morning at 8 AM and finished up Friday evening was the new Conference ‘A’ team from Indiana called Westpoint. They won the USSSA ‘C’ Worlds two years ago and finished 2nd at the ‘B’ Worlds last year and they picked up veterans like Rob Roop, Justin Aldora, and Brandon Dillon this year and joined the Conference. They overpowered Klutch Hubs Pub (MO-AA) 31-13 in the 1st round. Then beat Bay Area Legends (CA-AA) 26-23 holding off Bay Area with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th. Then to get to the final 4 they knocked off Primetime (GA-A) when they jumped out to a 15-1 lead. In the rest of the top half of the bracket it was Dan Smith (CA-Major) holding their own beating Sports Reach (KY-A), Riot (FL-AA), and Westpoint to make the finals. Also in the top of the bracket Riot beat Xtreme (MN-AA) and Primetime upset the Pure Sports Major team on a Tory Means walk-off double to the gap with two outs! In the bottom half of the bracket Worksteer (NC-A) had a nice win over Vivid/PTG (AR-A) 16-13 and Anarchy (NJ-AA) won the first battle of ‘AA’ teams over Smash It Precision (IL-AA) 19-12. This was after Anarchy had beaten Maroadis (PA-A) on a walk-off homer by Orlando Castillo. And the #1 seed Resmondo (FL-M) and the #4 seed Smashit/Thunder (NY-M) each won all of their games to meet in the semifinals where Resmondo out powered SIS/Thunder 29-15.
In the winner’s bracket finals of Dual #1 Resmondo overcame yet another slow start to comeback and take the lead on Dan Smith but in the bottom of the 7th Andy Purcell and Andrew Collins set the table for a walk-off backside line drive homer by Ryan Harvey to win the game 24-23!
In the loser’s bracket SIS/Precision won 3 in a row before Thunder dropped down and beat them and Anarchy knocked off Sports Reach, Bay Area, and Westpoint to make it to an early morning matchup with Thunder where they lost 20-16. Then in the loser’s bracket finals Resmondo fought back against Thunder and won on a Bubba Mack walk off homer to advance to the finals against Dan Smith. In the finals Resmondo forced the “if” necessary game with a 30-19 win but after taking a commanding lead in the final game ended up giving it away as Dan Smith tied the game in the 7th and won it 26-23 in the 8th inning! Dan Smith’s Ryan Harvey was MVP of Dual #1 and was 36 for 45 .800 with 20 home runs and 40 RBI and many of the homers were crowd pleasers! Resmondo’s Brian Wegman was Offensive MVP 25-36 .694, with 10 HR, and 19 RBI as the leadoff hitter.
|Hall of Fame Dual #1 Awards|
|MVP||Ryan Harvey||Dan Smith/Menosse/Steven Smith/FAI|
|Offensive MVP||Brian Wegman||Resmondo/Smash IT/Sonny's/JJ's/RDD/|
|Defensive MVP||Benjamin Dunn||Dan Smith/Menosse/Steven Smith/FAI|
|Hall of Fame Dual #1 Final Standings|
|1st||CA-M||Dan Smith/Menosse/Steven Smith/FAI||(5-1)|
Dual #2 started before the last 3 games of Dual #1 were finished and all 4 games were played under rainy and overcast conditions caused by the tropical storm Cristobal in the Gulf of Mexico. In Dual #2 the top 2 Major teams Resmondo and Dan Smith were both upset. Westpoint again had a phenomenal tournament as they beat Riot 10-4, SIS/Precision 25-6, and shocked Dan Smith 27-25 before losing to SIS/Thunder 20-16 in the semifinals. One other upset in the top of the bracket was Vivid beating Klutch/Hubs 28-9. In the bottom of the bracket the new BadDraw/TDB Major team made a run knocking off Express Athletics (OR-B), Worksteer (NC-A), Pure Sports (SC-M) 33-20, and then they upset Resmondo 33-30. Bad Draw capped off their run Saturday with an impressive 35-25 win over Thunder to be the undefeated team going into Sunday. In the loser’s bracket it was Baugh Ford winning 4 straight before Worksteer sent them home 15-9. And SIS/Precision won 3 straight including a win over Anarchy to become the highest finishing ‘AA’ team for the weekend. But early Sunday morning it was Pure Sports scoring the most runs of the week beating Resmondo 41-26 to make it to the loser’s bracket finals on Sunday morning.
On Sunday the wind blew in at about 10 mph and the tired swings were evident as the scores plummeted with SIS/Thunder knocking off Pure Sports 20-15 in what was a real defensive battle early on in the game, and then they came from behind to beat Bad Draw in the 1st game of the championship 16-15. In the final game SIS/Thunder who was the visiting team determined by coin flip had a consistent 3 to 5 run lead the entire game and extended an 8-6 lead in the top of the 7th to 11-6 on a Kyle Pearson homer and held on to win the second dual 11-6!
It was a long 4 days of softball as the games ended after 3 AM each night. There were an incredible amount of great plays, home run robbing catches, and line drive stabs. The new Conference umpires did their best and teams had to adjust to their strike zones. I would say overall the number of homers hit per game was down and scores were down as the wind blew differently than normal. Josh Riley of Thunder was the MVP of the 2nd dual 29-39 .744, 9 HR, and 27 RBI. And Bad Draw’s Buddy Wolf was Offensive MVP 23-28 .821 with 8 HR and 16 RBI. This year there are 5 Major teams and it was great to see all 5 different Major teams finish in the top 3 spots in each tournament.
|Hall of Fame Dual #2 Awards|
|MVP||Josh Riley||Smash It/Thunder/Backman/Albicocco|
|Offensive MVP||Buddy Wolf||BadDraw/TDB/RapidFire/T2/BAF/Pauer|
|Defensive MVP||Loyd Watson||Smash It/Thunder/Backman/Albicocco|
|Hall of Fame Dual #2 Final Standings|
|3rd||SC-M||Pure Sports/ Infamous/ EB||(6-2)|