ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla.-- Teams from both coasts gathered in Altamonte Springs, Fla. August 4-7 to compete for the Men’s Major Fast Pitch title. The Tampa Bay Smokers (Tampa Bay, Fla.) received its championship trophy after winning the tournament with a perfect record of 4-0.
Opening night of this national tournament brought on tough competition. The Tampa Bay Smokers battled Keating Fitness Center (Weatherly, Pa.) in what seemed a pitchers duel. Michael White (Tampa) and Billy Hillhouse (Keating) threw a tight game until a sacrifice fly out in the fourth by Tampa’s Trent Rubley put a run on the board. Leading the game 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth, hurricane whistles interrupted this battle causing the end of the game to be delayed until the following morning. Keating Fitness Center could not make a comeback the following day, resulting in an ending score of 1-0.
Game two proved to be even more exciting than game one. The Tampa Bay Smokers faced Team Iowa (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) in a grueling offensive fight. Team Iowa came out on top early in the game scoring five runs in the first inning, including a home run by Sonny Perkins. Robbie O’Brien (Tampa) was soon to be replaced by Michael White to see if Team Iowa’s offense could be detained. White held Team Iowa for a short while until a solo homerun put the score 6-0. The Tampa Bay Smokers however, were not defeated. They made a slow comeback throughout the game, tying the game 6-6 in the seventh inning. Team Iowa went on to score another run in the top of the seventh off of Frank Cox who had replaced White. This game, however, was not over for the Tampa Bay Smokers. They came out in the bottom of the seventh with nobody out and bases loaded. Darren Dubsky (Iowa) walked Trent Rubley for the tie. A regrettable mistake by Team Iowa’s left fielder scored the final run for the Tampa Bay Smokers. A deep foul ball and a runner tagging on third ended this game with a score of 8-7.
Frank Cox came out strong in game three to pitch another win for the Tampa Bay Smokers. The Quaker Riversharks (Ambler, Pa.) defense could not hold off the strong offensive efforts of the Tampa Bay Smokers, losing the game 8-4, advancing Tampa Bay to the finals.
After losing its first game of the tournament, Florida Fast Pitch (Jacksonville, Fla.) climbed its way back up the loser’s bracket to face their state rival in the finals. Michael White pitched his second shut-out of the tournament, and the offensive game of the Smokers over-powered the Florida Fast Pitch defense, winning the championship 6-0.
Along with all the champion hardware, the Tampa Bay Smokers also had 1st Team and 2nd Team All Americans. The 1st Team All-Americans included: first baseman Trent Rubley, outfielder Adam Lalonde, outfielder Barry Kahler, utility Robert Brush, pitcher Michael White, and pitcher Robbie O’Brien. The 2nd Team All-Americans included: third baseman Frankie Perez and pitcher Frank Cox. These additions on the All- American teams ended this tournament with many successes for the Tampa Bay Smokers.
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