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Gold Wins Their 3rd San Diego Stickball Championship

<font size=-1>Relaxing on the beach at San Diego's Labor Day Tournament</font> Click for bigger picture
Relaxing on the beach at San Diego's Labor Day Tournament

By Greg West

It was a beautiful weekend in San Diego and it made for a great environment for the 7th annual Little Italy & Re/Max Stickball Invitational. The tournament started with opening ceremonies on Saturday morning at 8am with a prayer led by Father Mario, followed by a beautiful singing of God Bless America by 11-year old Amber Platy.

Right after the prayer and song there was an All Star game played that matched the best players from the East Coast vs. the best from the West Coast. In 2003, the East Coast won but this year would be different as the West won the 5-inning exhibition 4-1. Willie Blas of the New City America Knights (San Diego) provided more incentive to win when he made a friendly wager with Albert Colon, Sr. of the Brooklyn Knights. The bet was that the loser, for the entire day, would wear a t-shirt designed by the winner. Albert proudly wore a pink woman’s shirt that read “Willie Is My Daddy.”

After the All Star game, the 12 teams were eager to start playing the round robin games. Each team was guaranteed 6 round robin games (3 on Saturday, 3 on Sunday) with the top 8 teams making the single elimination playoffs on Monday. Since there were 8 teams from San Diego and 4 teams from New York, there was some serious inter-coastal competition.

As the sun approached the horizon on Sunday evening, it was time to tally up the records and see who the top 8 seeded teams would be for Monday’s playoff games. Since several teams had the same number of wins, a tiebreaker had to be used. The tiebreaker for seeding was head-to-head play. If the teams didn’t play one another, the next tiebreaker was a comparison of total runs scored with the team that scored more runs getting the higher seed. The top 8 teams with their record in parenthesis:

  1. Whompers (6-0; 62 runs scored)
  2. Caffe Italia Young Stars (6-0; 44 runs scored)
  3. Gold (6-0; 32 runs scored)
  4. New City America Knights (4-1-1)
  5. Brooklyn Royals (3-1-2)
  6. Gun Hill (2-3-1; 25 runs scored)
  7. Emperors (2-3-1; 21 runs scored)
  8. Rookies (2-4)

The morning games of the first round saw the NCA Knights pound the Brooklyn Royals 13-2 and Gold beat Gun Hill 7-0. The second set of first round games saw the Young Stars squeak past the Emperors 4-3 on a 2-out bottom of the 7th inning single by Thomas. Also, in a very close game, the Whompers got a 7th inning single by Jared Hemus to score Greg West with 2 outs to barely nip the Rookies who were playing stickball for the very first time.

In one semifinal game the Gold shutout the up and coming Young Stars 4-0. In the other semifinal game, the SD Knights jumped ahead quick 1-0 on a HR by Joe Ramos but that lead didn’t last long and the Whompers got past the SD Knights 9-6.

The finals matched a very good defensive team Gold, who only allowed 3 runs scored against them all tournament going into the championship, against the Whompers who averaged 10 runs a game in round robin play.

The Gold were the visiting team, based upon seeding, and quickly jumped on top 2-0 on a run scoring single by Tournament MVP Steve Plergui and a sacrifice fly by Raul Morales. The Whompers answered with one run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Ed Marquis that scored Joe Cunningham. The inning would be halted on a Whompers’ base-running blunder.

In the top of the 3rd inning the Gold got on the board with 2 more runs on a 2-RBI double by Steve and took the lead 4-1. The Whompers answered with 2 runs of their own with RBI singles by Greg West and Jared Hemus to make it 4-3. Every time it seemed as if the Whompers were going to catch the Gold, the Gold would answer. The Gold made it 6-3 in the top of the 5th with 2 more runs and the Whompers answered back in the bottom of the 5th with 2 runs of their own to close the gap to 6-5. That would be all the Whompers would get and the Gold would score 5 runs in the next 2 innings capped off by a home run by Eddie Betances and would go on to win the game 11-5.

Congratulations to Gold for winning the 2005 NYESL championship and for winning the 7th annual Little Italy & Re/Max Stickball Invitational. It was the 3rd time in as many trips to San Diego that they have engraved their name on the Lorenzo Lombardelli trophy.

Everyone had fun this weekend. Many thanks to the tournament sponsors, Little Italy and Re/Max Realty Consultants for their financial support and to Jim Strickland and Willie Blas, who were the tournament directors. Thanks also to all the teams that participated in the tournament and made it such a great success. Stickball is definitely growing on the West Coast due to all the great teams, their fans and the sponsors. See you all in 2007.

Miscellaneous facts from the tournament:

  • 12 teams - 8 local & 4 from East Coast
  • 36 round-robin games
  • 310 total runs scored
  • Most runs scored by a team during round robin play was 62 (Whompers) - A local record for all San Diego tournaments
  • Most runs allowed during round robin play was 49 (Rookies) followed by 48 (North Park Trophy)
  • Most improved team was the Rookies they had never played before and beat out Eclipse for the #8 seed

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