1998 USSSA Class A championship at Shawnee, Kan.
Sunnyvale Valve/TPS of Sunnyvale, Calif., won nine consecutive games, five on Sunday and four on Monday (Sept. 7) to capture the USSSA Class A championship over a 54-team field at the Mid-America Complex in Shawnee, Kan. The Sunnyvale team lost early last year at Garland, Texas, and battled back for a third-place finish behind Resmondo/TPS of Lake Wales, Fla., and Pace/TPS of Rochester, N.Y.
This year, Resmondo tied for fifth in the Class AA division, while Pace managed only a 2-2 record in the Class A division. Meanwhile, Jeff Dorricott’s Sunnyvale squad went all the way, posting a 10-1 record. “Our defense, straight-up defense” Dorricott was quick to answer when asked the key to the awesome run. “The defensive play of our pitcher (Andy Purcell) and our middle defense (shortstop Gary Martin and second baseman Chris Lasaca). Purcell and outfielder Guido Bindi were named co-MVPs. Bindi led the tournament with 13 home runs. Teammate Darren Wendland had 12. Big, veteran Tom Langenhorst had eight, and tears in his eyes as the celebration settled down. Dorricott had ice cold water running down his face . . . after the water bucket was dumped on him.
Langenhorst had a whopping 19 last year. Mark Tremaine and Rob Overholt each added seven HRs, while Martin and Heath Lane each had six. Purcell topped the batting average totem pole with a .773 mark (34-for-44). Tremaine batted .676, Bindi .674. Reggie Stocker turned in a .783 average for W.E.T. of Niceville, Fla., while Mark Matchulat of Jimmie’s/Varsity/Que’s/Easton of Westland, Mich., batted .760 and Doug Kett, Gary Henry and Pat McCann of third-place Oakland Plumbing/Liberty Park/TPS of Sterling Heights, Mich., batted .758, .750 and .731, respectively. Johnny Simpson and Scott Hillie of Jimmie’s each batted .714. Matt Hughes of runner-up Pov’s/Line Drive/TPS of Andover, Minn., batted .704 with five HRs and was awarded the Outstanding Offensive Player trophy.
The Outstanding Defensive Player award went to Martin, the Sunnyvale shortstop who made like a vacuum cleaner. Tim Lindquist and Matt Urban of Oakland/Liberty batted .686 and .680, while Bob Stewart and Bill Barrett of Calvert/Prestige of of Taylor, Mich., batted .684 and .679. Calvert/Prestige played seven games in the 98-degree heat on Sunday, winding up in a tie for fifth place with W.E.T. after being elminated 23-13 by Jimmie’s, which came in as the top-ranked Class A team. Sunnyvale was No. 3 in the rankings. No. 2 was Hooters/Coors Light/TPS of Overland Park, Kan.
Pov’s was ranked 17th, and had finished way down the line with a 1-2 record in the ISA Class A two weeks before. Hooters was ousted 31-27 by Calvert, and finished in a tie for seventh with Easton-Minnesota. Bob Stewart had 10 home runs (in nine games) for Calvert/Prestige. Teammates Todd Wallace, Joe Gerdes and Terry Patesel had 9, 9 and 8. Doug Kett had nine for Oakland/Liberty, while Hille had eight for Jimmie’s. Todd Brayfogle and Jeff Thompson each had seven for Pov’s. Henry and John Hall matched that number for Oakland/Liberty. Chad Roberts of W.E.T. did too. Thompson had three of his homers in the finale — an 18-16 loss to Sunnyvale. He was walked intentionally with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh. The next batter was called out on strikes.
Sunnyvale forced an extra game with a 25-9 win over Pov’s. It was 20-3 going into the bottom of the second. Sunnyvale earlier on the final day eliminated Jimmie’s 26-17, jumping out 12-0 in the top of the first, and Oakland/Prestige 18-11. Sunnyvale opened with a 20-4 win over a good team, Coors Light/OPT of Midland, Texas, then stumbled 23-14 at the hands of Creative Stucco/Roosters/Easton of Columbus, Ohio. Sunnyvale won over other good teams along the way — 16-15 over Long Pest Control/Tacoma Dodge/Grover of Tacoma, Wash.; 27-17 over northern California rival Aftershock, the No. 5 ranked team based out of Fairfield; 32-22 over Easton-Minnesota, which won three games in the losers bracket and five all total; and 26-11 over W.E.T., the winner of the ISA Class A and the team that knocked Calvert/Prestige into the losers bracket in the first round here (28-25 in a 10-inning tussle).
W.E.T. won its first four games before being kayoed by Pov’s 23-14 when the Minnesota outfit scored 10 in the sixth and five in the top of the seventh.
Oakland/Liberty Park dropped Michigan rival Jimmie’s 31-16 in the other winners bracket semifinal. Jimmie’s just before tumbled Aftershock 21-10 after Aftershock rallied for eight runs in the bottom of the seventh to trip up Pace 28-27. Pov’s won over two tough opponents — 30-28 over Easton-Minnesota on a home run by Dan Yockum and 45-34 after an early 15-0 deficit against Hooters.
Wins by W.E.T. included 22-16 over Minnesota Jazz, 25-24 over Long Pest Control and 19-18 over Creative Stucco. W.E.T. and Calvert/Prestige wound up in a tie for fifth, while Hooters and Easton-Minnesota finished in a tie for seventh. Karphone of Norwalk, Calif., winner of the season-opening Far West Classic in Las Vegas (beating Class AA powerhouse JWM of Riverside, Calif., in the finals) managed only a 1-2 record and wound up in a tie for 25th. So did W.W. Gay of Gainesville, Fla., the ISA runner-up and two upsets over Class AA Adams/RSH/Worth of Mississippi. Herrin/TPS of Savannah, Ga., which had high hopes, lost 19-18 in the second round to Aftershock when Todd Langdon produced a 2-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the eighth. Herrin then lost its first game in the losers bracket — 38-37 to Powerhouse/Easton of Hot Springs, Ark. Pace was stunned in its first losers bracket game — 22-2 (in 4 innings) by Calvert/Prestige — and finished in a tie for 17th. Sixth-ranked Journeyman, a Westland, Mich., team with mostly Ohio players, suffered an 0-2 fate, losing 24-22 to Easton-Minnesota when Kurt Hornnes homered with a man on in the bottom of the seventh and 25-24 to Calvert/Prestige when Larry Stob hit a 2-runner in the bottom of the seventh. Journeyman was the winner of the prestigious Springfield NIT in Ohio, beating Wessel/Hague/SoJern/TPS, now the reigning Class AA kingpin in the finals.
Two former Hague players are now with the Journeyman club — Steve Dickinson and Kevin Birkofer. Remember Hague shocked the big-time slo-pitch world by winning the USSSA World Series in 1995? Long Pest Control is another team that played here (winding up in a tie for 13th) that pulled a big upset (over the second-ranked Major power Sierra/TPS of Reno, Nev.) in the preseason Toys for Tots tournament in Palm Springs, Calif.
Pitcher Andy Purcell and outfielder Guido Bindi . . . co-MVPs for Sunnyvale Valve/TPS in the USSSA A World.