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Extra Gold won the Western Invitational Stickball Tournament title
Click for bigger picture
Extra Gold defeated the San Diego Knights to claim the Western Invitational Stickball Tournament title.
photo by Dave Hernandez

2001 - Western Invitational Stickball Tournament Results

East meets West - Bronx Emperors and the San Diego Bomb Squad
Click for bigger picture
East meets West - Bronx Emperors and the San Diego Bomb Squad.
photo by Dave Hernandez
Stickball is taking root on the West Coast, as evident by the 3rd annual San Diego Labor Day Tournament. This year, 14 teams participated in the competition, 5 teams from the East and 9 teams from the San Diego area.

The tournament was a three day affair. On Saturday and Sunday each team played 3 games, in a round robin format. The top eight teams then advanced to a single elimination tournament on Monday (one loss elimination). Teams 9 through 12 also played in a second tier elimination event.

After the first two days of play, the order of the top eight teams were:

  1. Bad Boys from Manhattan
  2. KYB, which combined the Bronx Youngbloods with the Florida Kings
  3. The Bronx Emperors
  4. The Bomb Squad, from San Diego
  5. Extra Gold from the Bronx
  6. Los Gringos, from San Diego
  7. San Diego Knights
  8. Young Bucs from San Diego
For the event organizers, the seeding from the opening round was ideal. Each of the first initial games in the final elimination tournament would be between a NY and San Diego team.

Steve Mercado, President of the NY Emperors Stickball League provided coverage of the final day of the tournament (see the Emperors site for further detail).

"Monday arrived under cool, cloudy skies but excellent stickball conditions. The shorthanded Emperors opened up with a nail biter against Los Gringos. Tied 1-1 in the last inning, Jennifer Lippold led off the inning with a double. Somehow the Emperors loaded the bases which brought up Jennifer's father, Henry Rosado, who scorched a line drive up the middle to score Wayne Lippold, Jennifer's husband, from third base who slid across the plate to leave Los Gringos on the field scratching their heads.

The Bad Boys barely got by the Young Bucs in their playoff opener scoring in extra innings for a 2-1 win. Extra Gold scored enough to win, 1-0 against the Bomb Squad who beat the Gold previously on Saturday. The San Diego Knights had a scare of their own in the seventh inning of their matchup with the KYB. With a 7-0 lead going into the seventh inning, the reigning west coast Labor Day champs must have thought they woke up in a war zone. The KYB hit 8 straight line drives with two outs to come within 3 runs of tying the Knights. With homerun hitting, team captain Tito Rivera waiting on deck and a man on, team MVP, Nelson Roldan Jr. hit a scorching line drive only to see it get knocked down and thrown to second for a game ending force play.

In the semi-final games, the Emperors made it tough to score on against Extra Gold with superb defense and Gold baserunning blunders. The Gold could only muster 2 runs against the Emperors, but that proved to be enough as the Gold's defense was just as impressive, shutting them out to get to the championship game. The Bad Boys put themselves in an early hole, allowing 5 runs on errors and timely San Diego Knight hitting. They didn't go down without a fight as the Bad Boys came back within one run, chipping away with hit after hit. The west coast defense shut them down in the end to win that game 5-4 and an anticipated matchup with their rival east coast team, Extra Gold.

Approximately 400 fans lined up on both sides of the street to watch this classic matchup between East coast and West coast. Because of their higher seed in the standings, Extra Gold was the home team and, accordingly, their fans lined up the first base side of the street. San Diego's faithful lined up just as strong and loud on the third base side. Geographic loyalty prevailed as the New York teams eliminated earlier cheered on the Gold while the San Diego teams rooted for the Knights. As the Gold took the field to start the game, the noise from the crowd was deafening.

After a leadoff double, the Knights were stifled with great catches by the Gold outfield. The Gold then took advantage, scoring a run behind a wicked line drive off the bat of Frank Martinez. The Gold later pushed another run across the plate but it was more thatn they would need as their defense did not allow another runner from the Knights to even reach second base.

Gold players received beautiful acrylic pieces to commemorate the championship and the Extra Gold name will be engraved onto the Lorenzo Lombardelli Trophy which is displayed prominently in a Little Italy cafe known as Caffe Italia for all to see. The Lombardelli Trophy is named after the president of ReMax Realty, the main tournament sponsor."

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