Championship game Newbreeds Cole Patterson pitching to Precision
'AA' World tournament
Precision MVP Justin Mucciarelli stabs a hot shot up the middle
2016 AA bracket link
The 'AA' division returned with a bang to USSSA softball in 2016 as 14 teams (11 AA) took to the Fortune Road Athletic Complex's 310-325-325-325-310 fields in a double elimination tournament this past weekend to crown a champion. The tournament began on Friday night at 5 pm in overcast but warm and humid conditions with 12 teams playing into the top two seeds - #1 TG/Red's Astros and #2 Newbreed/GTS/Beus. Line Drive Sportz knocked off Vivid 24-18 then controlled the game from the outset against Newbreed leading the whole game and upset the favorite to win 25-20! Eurotech slugged it out with fellow Minnesota 'AA' team Xtreme in their opener. The two teams met in the first round because the 'AA' World tournament is seeded on Nationwide Conference USSSA points. Eurotech led most of the late innings and won 30-27 in extra innings as Xtreme could not pull it out even with the hammer. Last seeded Primetime who is an 'A' team that hadn't beaten a 'AA' team all season won in extra innings over #3 seeded Sonny's 34-32 when Sonny's who had the hammer and home runs left to hit (teams could hit 12 HR per game) could not come through in the 7th or 8th inning. We are starting to see a theme here. The visiting team who traditionally loses close games at upper worlds because of the "bad batch" stadium balls used was suddenly winning over the home team in all the big games? Puzzling. That trend continued as #5 seeded 3rd Street could not come through in the bottom of the 7th against OC Swats and Swats won 28-26! The only game that wasn't close in the first round was #4 Precision over Shirt Doctors 28-13 but that was close early. In the lower part of the bracket BHR/Coppermine Lodge the recent 'A' World champs knocked off TM Sports 34-24 and then gave #1 seeded TG/Red's Astros all they could handle before a strong Red's offense who sort of let the game come to them with judicious use of the home run took over and Red's won 38-31 in a shootout. Chad Mullins, Cory Boothe, and Travis Dale coming up with big homers in the 6th inning to pull away from BHR.
So when the Friday night lights turned off in the winner's bracket the #2, #3, and #5 seeded teams were all in the loser's bracket and Line Drive and TG/Reds were in the final 4. The other two final 4 teams were decided at 10:30 AM on Saturday morning. Primetime and Eurotech who were both teams no one thought would be there were suddenly playing for a trip to the final 4. Eurotech held the lead most of the game as the scores started to wilt on field #2 with the heat and the wind coming in slightly. Eurotechs 6 run advantage going into the bottom of the 7th though evaporated and Primetime tied the game. In extra innings Primet Ira Brown hit a clutch walkoff to win the game! In the final quarterfinal game Precision used strong defense to knock off a suddenly confident OC Swats team 23-12.
In the semifinals Saturday afternoon Precision went up double digits on a stunned TG/Red's Astros team and held off a late run to win 34-28. And Primetime led Line Drive 11-3 at one point but Line Drive went on an adrenaline laced offensive explosion that lasted two innings and led 21-14 going into the 7th and won by that score.
In the winner's bracket finals on Saturday night with two teams not expected to be there (Linedrive and Precision) Precision pretty much dominated the game in every phase and even though the sun went down it was only Precision who was scoring in bunches and they won by the mercy rule 32-14.
Over in the loser's bracket the games were long and high scoring. Vivid sent OC Swats home with a Tim Howard walk off homer. Xtreme dominated a listless Racks team 23-5. 3rd Street separated from Shirt Doctors and won 34-19. Eurotech knocked out TM Sports 26-15 before being hammered by Newbreed 47-6 after Newbreed had sent home 3rd Street 37-26 in a game where 3rd Street led 17-0. In the lower part of the bracket Xtreme continued their trek beating BHR 25-19. BHR and Xtreme had a paper scissors rock tournament to determine who got the dugout with the fan. Xtreme rattled off two more wins over Vivid and a close 16-15 win over Primetime. But it was Newbreeds offense that took over the losers bracket as they then sent home #1 TG/Reds 42-36 and won the last game of the night over Xtreme 36-31, Xtreme had 3 homers left and a 6 run deficit in the bottom of the 7th. Xtreme did finish 4th. That game was a shootout as Xtremes Shannon Smith tied the game at 26-26 with a grand slam just before the lights in the park went out. When the lights came back on 30 minutes later it was the Newbreed defense of Rockoff at 2B and Flood in the middle that finished off Xtreme.
One of the best games of the tournament was the loser's bracket finals Sunday morning: Linedrive had early leads of 9-1 and 19-3 against a tired Newbreed team but Newbreed had 13 run 3rd inning in a game that witnessed both relief pitchers entering the game early. Newbreeds Rolando Rodriguez hit a moon shot 3 run homer to give them their first lead in top of 4th. Linedrive got a nice diver from Kaminski at 2nd base to end the inning with a 26-20 Newbreed lead going to the bottom of the 4th. Each team had hit 7 HR. In the bottom of the 4th Matt Vern hit a grand slam for Line Drive and Mike Ortiz a 3 run homer and LD led 29-26 going to top of 5th. The lead swapped back to Newbreed on a Gastineau 3 run homer and back again to Line Drive on a Kaminski 3 run homer 32-30. Newbreed shortstop Nick Utley had a nice backhand and whirling throw to end the inning. In the top of the 6th Linedrvie left fielder Cory Large made a diving catch on a liner by TJ Thompson to start the inning. Newbreed then rallied with a sacrifice fly, a Rockoff double, and a 3 run 2 out backside homer by Gastineau made it 35-33 Newbreed. Linedrive then walked batters to get to pitcher TJ Thompson who hit a 2 out bases loaded double over a shallow left fielder for a 39-33 lead. In the 7th homers by Cordova and Rodriguez iced the game away for Newbreed 46-38.
The championship game had Precision jumping out to a 3-1 lead after one inning as Keith Anderson hit a 3 run homer and pitcher Justin Mucciarelli got a strikeout looking to end the inning. There was no offense by either team in the middle innings and the game quickly advanced to the 6th inning. In the 6th and 7th innings Precisions Bryan Porter, Bo Andrews, Chad Durick, and Frank Fracek all hit big homers to put the game away and Precision won 17-9 shutting down yet another team.
Precision celebrates the 'AA' World title
Newbreeds Rolando Rodriguez puts the icing on the cake with a 2 run bomb to extend their lead over
LineDrive in the loser's final Sunday morning
Newbreed 1B Victor Cordova turns an unassisted DP vs Line Drive.
Pinch hit power hitter Devin Reilly hits a big homer against Line Drive in the winners final Saturday
3rd Streets Brad Tabler hits against OC Swats on Friday night
Friday night first round game between two Minnesota AA teams dubbed the "Minnesota State Championship"
3rd Streets David Kessler bounces a seeing eye single through the teeth of the Newbreed defense
USSSA 'AA' Awards and Final Standings
MVP was Precisions Justin Mucciarelli
Keske, Gallmeier, and Mucciarelli with the 1st place trophy