Thomas Bait & Tackle of North Carolina completed an undefeated run through the ASA Class A Nationals over Labor Day weekend at Lawton, Okla., by overcoming a 16-run fourth inning by Dalton Chiropractic of New Jersey to win 28-25. Thomas, with six players from the Jerry’s team that won the Class B crown in 1997, breezed 20-1 over Dalton in the finals of the winners bracket en route to a 7-0 record.
Defending Class A champion Coffee Cup of Minnesota was a third-place finisher this year.
The favorite, Smokes/Harrison’s/TPS of Maryland, finished fourth in the 62-team field. Jim Johnson of Gary’s Auto Body of Michigan was the home run champion with 17 in seven games. The home run limit was six. MVP honors went to Thomas outfielder Scott Grant. His on-base numbers were 34-of-37. He reached base in his last 19 trips to the plate. He had six homers.
The leading hitter was Brad Gidcumb of Jacksonville Grover of Florida with an .885 average. “Scott made some nice plays in the outfield,” pointed out Thomas manager, who serves as the team’s extra hitter. “Our middle was outstanding on defense — Grant Batts at shortstop and Cullen Clark at second base. They turned a lot of double plays. And our pitcher, Bob Carter, played good defense too.”
Thomas had three players on the first team all-tournament — Grant, John Dutch Jr. and Roy Jarman — and two more on the second team — John Adams and Hollis Brice.
Dalton had two on the first team — Tom Laska and Anthony Delarnesis.
Coffee Cup had only one selection — Mike Ritzer on the second team.
Smokes had Steve Gilbert and Dewey Fussell on the first team and Steve Helewicz and Bobby Bayne on the second team.
Thomas topped Smokes 26-21 and Dalton was a 33-18 winner over Coffee Cup in the semifinal round of the winners bracket.
Coffee Cup eliminated L&L Paint of Alabama 17-16, while Smokes ousted Mercer of Indiana 43-23. Coffee Cup then kayoed Smokes 24-22 before dropped by Dalton 12-11.
Mercer eliminated Gary’s 30-15, while L&L ousted SCB/Easton of New York 34-14. L&L had a 7-2 record, Dalton and Coffee Cup were 6-2 and Smokes, Mercer and Gary’s 5-2 and SCB 4-2.
Ashley’s of Delaware and Kentucky Tucker each went 5-2 en route to a tie for ninth with Maroadi of Pittsburgh and Scott of Iowa.
Jacksonville Grover, Galyan’s of Indiana, Universal Dome of Indiana and Allied Tool of Kentucky tied for 13th.
Some highly regarded team finished down the line, including K&G of Indiana, Riverside/Ram and Berardi’s of Kentucky, Paramount of Virginia, Deery Brothers of Iowa and Budweiser/DeMarini of Texas.
One of Paramount’s players was 52-year-old Don Clatterbaugh, a former Major player with such teams as Dave Carroll and Steele’s.
Berardi’s lost 25-16 to DeVault of Missouri and Budweiser/DeMarini lost 27-14 to Easton Sportstar of Kentucky in first-round games. Berard’s then lost 26-21 to Ohio Sealants.
Budweiser/DeMarini went 0-2 too, being ousted 20-18 by TCBY/DeMarini of Arkansas.
Deery was 0-2, losing to the Aragon Minnesota Merchants 32-23 and Barchella of New York (29-17).
Riverside lost 39-28 to SCB and K&G lost 27-26 to Jax Grover in the second round.
Paramount won two games before falling 29-28 to Mercer.
Thomas won 45-31 and 32-11, but had two tough games in the early rounds — 31-30 vs. Gateway Press of Kentucky and 28-25 vs. Allied Tool. Gateway built up a 27-7 lead going into the fifth inning. Thomas broke loose for 15 runs. “Then we were down nine going into the bottom of the seventh,” pointed out Marion. “We got 12 straight men on without an out.” Jay Lamm started things with a single and he ended it with a 2-run double.
Carter went 6-for-6, Grant 5-for-6 with a homer and Roy Jarman 5-for-5 with a homer. Lamm, John Dutch, Doug Flowers and Marion had homers.
Thomas won in the first round by 45-31 over Cooper Sports of Cincinnati. Grant was 7-for-7, while Adams was 6-for-7 with a homer and Dutch 6-for-7. Flowers and Brice Hollis each had two homers and Jarman one. The 28-25 win over Allied Tool saw Adams go 4-for-5 with two homers. Grant had two homers, Dutch and Hollis one each. A 32-11 romp over Scott’s of Iowa saw Grant and Adams each go 5-for-5 and Jarman, Dutch, Batts and Marion each go 4-for-4. Dutch, Flowers, Hollis and Marion homered. Thomas was a 26-21 winner over Smokes. Jarman had three homers, Grant, Lamm, Dutch and Flowers one each. Grant and Lamm each went 5-5, Jarman and Dutch 4-5. Carter, Adams and Hollis also went 4-5. The easy 20-1 win over Dalton in the finals of the winners bracket saw Jarman and Dutch hit homers and Grant and Hollis each go 4-for-4. Lamm and Flowers each had three hits. So did Jarman. Dalton’s only run was a solo home run in the fifth inning. It was a different story vs. Dalton in the finale. The New Jersey team scored 16 runs in the fourth inning for a 22-12 lead.
The North Carolinians came back with six in the fifth and nine in the sixth. Jarman and Dutch homered in the fifth and Grant’s grand slam tied the game in the sixth. The Thomas team went on to score five more after the slammer. Final score: 28-25. Grant was 5-for-5 with 2 homers, Jarman 4-for-5 with 2 homers. Hollis also had a homer. Carter, Dutch and Lamm each notched four hits. Marion made note that clean-up batter Jim Rogers had to miss the tournament. “All the guys pulled together, picking it up a little bit to take up the slack. We played really good team ball. It was real exciting. We had to come from behind in three games. We were not the best team there by far, but we showed a lot of heart.
Our boys never gave up. This was our first year in Class A.” Marion, whose team is based out of the central North Carolina town of Sanford, pointed out the inspiration of Jerry Sheffield, the team’s enthusiastic third base coach. “He was a motivator, slinging his towel around. He keeps everybody going.”
SCB dropped Gary’s into the losers bracket (23-14) before being bumped by Smokes 33-31. Smokes dropped L&L (37-8) and Jax Grover (30-7) into the losers bracket.
Coffee Cup won four — 27-20 over TCBY, 29-17 over Easton Sportstar, 26-13 over Las Vegas Funjet of Wisconsin and 30-17 over Maroadi — before losing to Dalton 33-18.
Dalton earlier won 34-21, 29-20, 31-26 (over B&A of Ohio) and 28-9 (over Mercer).
Ashley’s won four games in the losers bracket before being ousted 25-5 by SCB. Ashley’s was dropped into the losers bracket by Scott of Iowa (25-13).
Scott won 3 before losing to Thomas, then lost its first game in the losers bracket by 36-32 to L&L.
SCB won 4 games in the losers bracket before falling to Mercer (26-6).
Rounding out the first team all-tournament selections were Cliff Egan and Louis Brown of Universal, Mark Mastorovich of Maroadi, Rob Rash and Tom Shield of Grotto’s of Delaware, Gidcumb of Jax Grover and Johnson and Mark Moore of Gary’s. Rounding out the second team were Dean Bowrosen and Karl Komyat of SCB, Bill Gilbert and Ron Rash of Grotto’s, Mike Dill and Joe Spadifino of Ashley’s, Mark Hutchinson and Kevin Gillot of L&L, Greg Ackerbery of Gary’s and Mike Engler of Maroadi.