Dan Smith/Mennosse/Easton– Hall of Fame I Champions
Hall of Fame II Champions- Smash It Sports/Albicocco/Miken/Worth

The annual Hall of Fame Classic Major is a dual tournament event which most Conference teams really consider the kickoff to the season. The first tournament starts at 8 AM on Thursday morning and ends Friday evening and the second tournament starts Saturday morning and end early Sunday afternoon. The tournament featured 36 teams from all over the country including 35 teams from the Nationwide Conference USSSA league. Both tournaments were played in beautiful weather at the Osceola County Stadium and surrounding baseball fields as well as a few games over at the Fortune Road Athletic Complex. The first tournament started with some big upsets as Seminoles an ‘A’ team from Oklahoma knocked off the Racks/Sonny’s (WY-M) Major team 17-16 in the stadium at 8 AM. Seminoles Brandon Raines had 4 extra base hits in the game and Racks had the last at bats at the end of the game but could only produce 1 run. Another upset was Bad Draw (NC-B) knocking off Newbreed (WA-M) Major team 21-20! There were some minor upsets as well as Bay Area Legends (CA-A) knocked off JBL/Tailgaters (OH-AA) 31-16, Pure Sports (SC-A) beat TG/HDLNS (OH-AA) 17-9, and Steel Sports (TX-A) outslugged TDB/TMSports (NC-AA) 42-40 over at Fortune Road where the field dimensions were 310-325-325-325-310 fences.

Team Breakdown:
36 Teams Overall
35 Nationwide Conference USSSA Teams
6 Major Teams
12 ‘AA’ Teams
10 ‘A’ Teams
8 ‘B’ Teams

In the round of 16 Steel Sports beat Seminoles 29-12 in a battle for big conference points between two ‘A’ teams who are not normally expected to make it that far into the tournament. Xtreme (MN-AA) run ruled Pure Sports. Killbombers (TX-AA) made it past Bad Draw 22-15. Precision (IL-AA) bested rival Worth Astros (IN-AA) 25-11. And the Major teams who were favored in the tournament Resmondo, Smash It Sports/Albicocco, Backman, and Dan Smith all won fairly easily.

In the final 8 of the winner’s bracket Resmondo jumped out to a 16 run top of the first inning against Steel Sports and won 33-6 on the Stadium although Steel turned a rare triple play in the game. Resmondo’s two hitter Greg Connell was 5-5 in the game with 4 home runs! Smash It Sports/Albicocco annihilated Xtreme 38-7 as SIS hitters Jason Branch, Andy Purcell, Luis Reyna, Kevin Filby, and Lee Payne all reached base safely in every one of their at bats. Backman held off Precision 16-12 holding Precision scoreless in the 7th. And Dan Smith beat Killbombers 18-17 in extra innings back on the OHP-2 baseball field – Killbombers had a chance to win in the bottom of the 7th with 2 outs and runners in scoring position in that one.

So four of the heavyweight major teams met in the final 4 of the winner’s bracket of the first dual event on Friday morning in the stadium with its 330-390-410-390-330 field dimensions. First Resmondo and Smash It Sports/Albicocco went at it. After 6 innings Resmondo led 20-18 and then Travis Clark and Scott Kirby homered, BJ Fulk hit an RBI triple and Brad Reckart added an RBI single giving Resmondo a 24-18 lead going to the bottom of the 7th. In the final frame SIS/Albicocco could only manage a two out homer from Andy Purcell and Resmondo held on for the big win 24-19. Offensive MVP Brian Wegman was 4-5 in the game with a homer and a triple and Resmondo out homered Smash It 9 to 7. In the other semifinal played at 11 AM Friday morning, Dan Smith scored 3 runs to take a 16-15 lead on Backman on a Casey Rogowski single in the bottom of the 6th. In the top of the 7th Backman’s Steven Lloyd hit a “no doubter” home run to give them a 17-16 lead as Dan Smith left fielder Colby Hughes made a number of nice plays on the fence to keep Backmans offense held down. In the bottom of the 7th Dan Smith would come back with a clutch double by Donnie Hammonds, a hit from Brian Zirkle tied the game, and Chris Greinert won it in walk off fashion with a bases loaded line drive single! Outfielder Donnie Hammonds was 4-4 in the game with a homer and two doubles for Dan Smith.

So Dan Smith was the surprise team then in the winner’s final against the heavily favored Resmondo team who’s powerful lineup is built for the big stadium fields. Dan Smith though came out firing on all cylinders as they scored 6 in the 1st inning, 5 in the 3rd, and 6 more in the 6th. Middle infielder Kyle Pearson for Dan Smith who was 4-5 in the game had an inside the park homer against a Resmondo outfield shift which made it 26-15 in the top of the 7th and Resmondo could not score in the 7th.

In the loser’s bracket Premier an Ohio ‘B’ team knocked off ‘AA’ teams SIS/Thunder and OC Swats in low scoring games with the wind blowing in hard over on the OHP-1 field. TG Brand/Easton a MI-A team knocked off ‘A’ teams AllOut and Bay Area Legends over at Fortune Road. Baugh Ford knocked off 3 straight opponents by 3 runs or less, beating Pure Sports on a Carlton Griffin walk off hit 33-32, and then beating Classic Glass late Thursday night 27-26 using the gloves to close the game out on defense. And Racks who lost their first game of the tournament won 4 in a row to finish tied for 7th. Newbreed who lost their first game won 5 in a row to finish tied for 5th. Worth Astros won 4 in a row in the loser’s bracket including a nice 19-8 win over Racks to finish tied for 5th. Two of the better games of the tournament were the loser’s bracket quarterfinals at 1 pm on Friday as Worth Astros lost 10-8 to Backman on poor base running with the wind blowing in on OHP-1 and Smash It Sports/Albicocco who beat Newbreed in probably the longest game of the tournament on a walk off 3 run homer by Andrew Collins with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th!

The rest of the games then moved into the stadium late Friday afternoon where Backman jumped on Smash It Sports/Albicocco 23-2 and won by the 30 run rule in 4 innings 32-2. SIS was tired after that long battle against Newbreed and took a beating as they mustered just 4 hits and 1 homer. Backman pitcher Andrew Vitcak was 4-4 with 2 HR, and leadoff man Steven Lloyd was 5-5 with 4 doubles. Jeremy Yates who was one of the few lefties hitting homers into the wind had 3 homers over the fence and an inside the parker.

In the loser’s bracket finals Resmondo was up on Backman 13-12 after 5 innings. Then Lee Powers hit a 3 run homer to give Backman a 15-13 lead in the top of the 6th and a Vitcak homer made it 19-13. But in the bottom half Resmondo scored 10 runs to go up 23-19. In the top of the 7th Jo Jo Bennett for Backman tripled to left field, Powers singled, Stovall hit one off the fence in left center 390 feet for an RBI triple, Orlando Castillo hit a fly ball scoring Stovall to make it 23-22, and Brett Rettenmeier hit a line drive solo homer to tie it at 23-23. But Resmondo needed just one run in the bottom of the 7th and won on a Brian Wegman walk off double after a Kevin Bazat double and an intentional walk to Greg Connell (final 24-23 Resmondo).

In the 1st Dual Championship game Dan Smith who would have to be beaten twice went up 25-15 on Resmondo after 4 complete innings with Colby Hughes, Freddie Bynum, Chad Durick, Jason Matusik and MVP pitcher LC Watson leading the charge. Resmondo would close the gap as the bottom of the order set the table for Bryson Baker who hit a grand slam to close the gap to 6 in the top of the 5th. But Dan Smith held on to win 28-25 and get their first tournament win of the season. Colby Hughes their leadoff hitter was 4-5 with 3 homers and a triple in the game. Dan Smith picked up 290 Conference points for the win and showed they could hang with the top teams by beating Resmondo twice in the tournament. The highest finishing ‘AA’ team was Worth Astros 5th. The highest finishing ‘A’ team was Baugh Ford and Steel who tied for 9th and the highest finishing ‘B’ team was Premier/Easton tied for 13th.

Hall of Fame I MVP, Loyd Watson
Hall of Fame I Offensive MVP, Resmondo’s Brian Wegman

Hall of Fame Classic #1 Major Awards
Tournament MVP Loyd Watson Dan Smith/Menosse
Offensive Tournament MVP Brian Wegman Resmondo/O.A.Apparel/H.Auto/SP Tank .794, 7 HR, 20 RBI
Defensive Tournament MVP Casey Rogowski Dan Smith/Menosse

Hall of Fame Classic #1 Final Standings
1st CA-M – Dan Smith/Menosse 6-0
2nd FL-M – Resmondo/O.A.Apparel/H.Auto/SP Tank 5-2
3rd IN-M – Backman/S&S/Dr.Pepper/Louisville Slugger 5-2
4th NY-M – Smash It/Albicocco/Miken/Worth 4-2
5th WA-M – Newbreed/GTS/Demarini 5-2
5th IN-AA – Worth Astros / K&G / Klutch 5-2

Dual #2 went a little more according to plan in the first round as most of the higher seeded teams won. Killbombers used a 21 run 6th inning to steal a win from Money/Miken back on OHP-5. As I walked around watching the early games on Saturday I witnessed Chad Loudon the pitcher for Killbombers and the Xtreme pitcher Dirk Updike stabbing some nasty hot shots line drives up the middle. And although the higher classed teams won most all of the games in the 1st round, the 2nd round was full of upsets. SIS/Thunder shocked Resmondo 26-25 over on the smaller OHP-3 field. OA Apparel beat Backman 27-26 on a walk off homer by John Williams who was 5-6 in the game with 2 big homer’s. Pure Sports an ‘A’ team won their second game in a row over ‘AA’ teams TDB and Worth Astros. Xtreme run ruled Racks. And Newbreed survived a scare from Precision and Dan Smith survived a scare from Classic Glass. So with 3 of the 6 Major teams already in the loser’s bracket before the final 8 the upsets continued in the 3rd round as Xtreme beat Dan Smith on a walk off single by Lyf Nimmo as the team scored 9 runs to win in the bottom of the 7th!

The rest of the winner’s bracket played out with Smash It Sports/Albicocco cruising through with run rule victories over OC Swats, Pure Sports, Xtreme, and Newbreed to go undefeated going into Sunday. Smash It outfielder Andrew Collins went 4-4 with 2 home runs in the winner’s bracket championship game against Newbreed. And Newbreed had made it to the winner’s finals by run ruling OA Apparel and waited for the loser’s final after losing to Resmondo by the run rule late Saturday night.

In the loser’s bracket one entire side was “clogged” with Major teams as Backman eliminated Dan Smith, and then Resmondo turned around and eliminated Backman on a walk off homer by Kyle Pearson to make it to Sunday. On the other side of the loser’s bracket Worth Astros spent most of the day on the field beating Baugh Ford, OC Swats, SIS/Thunder, Racks, and scoring 5 in the bottom of the 7th to tie Xtreme and 8 in the bottom of the 8th inning. The game ended at 1:40 AM in the morning and the winner Worth Astros had to be back at 8 AM to play Resmondo in the loser’s semifinal. Resmondo promptly trounced the tired Worth/Astros 26-5. So Worth Astros finished 4th, the highest finishing ‘AA’ team…again. In the loser’s final Resmondo vs Newbreed neither team would take control of the game but Newbreed pulled out a nice 26-16 win to advance to the championship. Adam Rockoff had 4 home runs in the win.

SIS/Albicocco’s SS Don DeDonatis makes a diving stop.
Championship Sunday saw Newbreed/DeMarini face off against SIS/Albicocco.

The championship game of Dual #2 started around 11 AM that Sunday and Smash It Sports/Albicocco who really found their rhythm in the 2nd dual controlled the game the entire way and won their 2nd tournament of the season by the run rule 26-11 over Newbreed. MVP Luis Reyna was 4-4 in the final game with and inside the park homer. Andy Purcell and Ryan Harvey each hit 2 home runs, and Don Dedonatis Jr was 3 for 4 with 2 inside the park home runs including a grand slam. The highest finishing ‘A’ team was Pure Sports who was 9th and the highest finishing ‘B’ team was Premier and Bad Draw tied for 17th. The tournament had great weather, dramatic finishes, many great upsets, a full contingent of Conference umpires, and it showed all of the teams what their needs for the rest of the season are.

Hall of Fame II’s Co-MVP, SIS/Albicocco’s Luis Reyna

Hall of Fame Classic #2 Major Awards
Tournament CO-MVP Luis Reyna Smash It/Albicocco/Miken/Worth .840, 4 HR, 16 RBI
Tournament CO-MVP Nicolas Santana Smash It/Albicocco/Miken/Worth .840, 2 HR, 7 RBI
Offensive Tournament MVP Jeff Flood NEWBREED/GTS/DEMARINI .750, 1 HR, 7 RBI
Defensive Tournament MVP Andy Purcell Smash It/Albicocco/Miken/Worth

Hall of Fame Classic #2 Final Standings
1st NY-M – Smash It/Albicocco/Miken/Worth 6-0
2nd WA-M – Newbreed/GTS/Demarini 5-2
3rd FL-M – Resmondo/O.A.Apparel/H.Auto/SP Tank 7-2
4th IN-AA – Worth Astros / k&g / klutch 6-2
5th MN-AA – Xtreme/Miken/ASP/Athlon 3-2
5th TX-AA – OA Apparel/Broughton/KBI/Easton 3-2

Celebrating the Hall of Fame I Championship with USSSA assistant executive director, Danny Brown, is the Dan Smith management team (left to right): Steve Smith, Dan Smith, Hector Pagan and Pat Dalsanders.