Wenning, Smith Lead Down-N-Dirty To Worth-Bud Light-USSSA “D” NIT Title At Warren Co. Armco Park; Late Rally Carries Champions Past Stiffler, 10-8, In Finals
Lebanon, Oh.–Brandon Wenning batted .667 and anchored the defense, and Jimmy Smith hit a blistering .846 to lead Down-N-Dirty Softball to a first place finish in a Worth-Bud Light-USSSA “D” National Invitational June 20th at Warren County Armco Park.
Down-N-Dirty rallied for four runs in the bottom of the 6th to outlast Stiffler 10-8 in the championship game and complete a four-game sweep of the nine-team affair. Pitcher Ernie Russell shut down Stiffler in the top of the 7th to preserve the win.
The champions had previously erased Financial Solutions 10-3, Stiffler 17-12, and M. J. Lowe 3-2. Three of their four games were won in their final at bat.
The title gave Down-N-Dirty a berth to the USSSA Men’s Class “D” World Tournament September 24-27 in Sterling Heights, Mi.
Russell, Down-N-Dirty’s player-manager, credited his team’s success to “pitching and defense.
“Our defense is always there,” said Russell. “We actually just added Brian Males – this was his first tournament with us – and he played a phenomenal 1st base. Also our starting centerfielder was missing, and Andy Young, our 3rd baseman, went out into left field and made every play that was hit to him. He stepped up big in filling that hole.”
But the biggest defensive contribution came from 2nd baseman Brandon Wenning, who was named tournament MVP.
“He batted .667 and his defense was phenomenal,” stated Russell. “Brandon and our middle infielder, Matt Walton, turned ten double plays during the day. Brandon made a number of diving catches against for us. Against M. J. Lowe, they had the bases loaded with two outs, and a guy hit a ball in the hole between 1st and 2nd, and Brandon Wenning dove to his left and was fully extended and caught the ball and ended the inning.”
Pitching also played a big role in Down-N-Dirty’s championship, said Russell.
“Timmy Cowgill and myself pitched great and only gave up double digit scoring in one game, and we held the other teams to 3, 2, 12 and 8. I thought that was pretty good,” sai Russell.
Jimmy Smith led Down-N-Dirty offensively with a sizzling .846 day.
“He only made two outs (11-for-13) and ripped the cover off the ball,” said Russell. “He hit to all sides of the field all day long. It was his day.”
Smith was named to the All-Tournament Team along with Russell (.714), Brian Males (.643), Brandon Spencer (.615) and Andy Young.
Other hitting leaders included Tim Cowgill at .667 and Matt Walton at .643.
Dirty Dozen needed a seven-run outburst in the bottom of the 6th to break a 3-3 tie and escape with a 10-3 victory over Financial Solutions in game one. Brian Males rbi single put his club ahead for good at 4-3. Jimmy Smith delivered the big blow of the inning, when he burned Financial Solutions’ right fielder for an inside-the-park grand slam to close out the scoring.
Brian Spencer and Males were both perfect in three at bats to lead the winners.
Next Down-N-Dirty jumped out to an early 9-0 lead over Stiffler, but needed two in the 5th and six in the 6th to break the game open after Stiffler battled back to within one at 9-8 in the 3rd. A bases-clearing double by Chris Tarter highlighted a six-run 1st. Down-N-Dirty tacked on three in the 2nd to build a 9-0 lead, but Stiffler roared back with one in the bottom of the 2nd and seven in the 3rd. But Down-N-Dirty slammed the door on Stiffler with two in the 5th and a big six-run 6th to take a commanding 17-8 advantage. Ernie Russell had a big two-out, two-run single in the 5th. Chris Carter contributed a two-run triple in the 6th. Stiffler answered with three in the bottom of the 6th and two in the 7th to make the final 17-12.
Jimmy Smith pounded out four hits, and Ryan Holly, Tarter and Russell each went 3-for-4.
That lifted Down-N-Dirty into the winners’ bracket finals, where they needed a run in the bottom of the 7th to slip past M. J. Lowe 3-2. Brandon Wenning singled, went to second on Jimmy Smith’s base hit, then raced home with the game winner on Chris Tarter’s single.
Andy Young, Wenning, Smith and Timmy Cowgill combined for nine hits to pace the offense.
Stiffler then roared past M. J. Lowe 16-5 in the losers’ bracket finals, and were poised to force an “if” game as they held an 8-6 lead after five. But in the bottom of the 6th, Down-N-Dirty struck for four unanswered runs to pull out a 10-8 victory. For the second game in a row eventual tournament MVP Brandon Wenning got the winning rally underway with a leadoff single. Brandon Spencer’s base hit put runners on 1st and 2nd, setting the stage for a game-tying two-run double by Ernie Russell. D. G. Gross then doubled home Russell to put his team into the lead. An rbi single by Andy Young rounded out the scoring. Russell then shut down Stiffer in the top of the 7th to preserve the win.
Brian Males banged out three hits, and Gross, Spencer, Matt Walton and Jimmy Smith shared eight hits.
Down-N-Dirty manager Ernie Russell said that winning the world berth lifted “a monkey off his team’s back.
“We’ve been playing a lot of tournaments hoping to get our world berth by points, but we wanted to get it the right way by winning an NIT,” said Russell. “There were only nine teams, but a paid world berth is a paid world berth.
“We feel like a load was lifted off our backs.”
WORTH-BUD LIGHT-USSSA “D” NATIONAL
INVITATIONAL TOURN. FINAL STANDINGS
1. Down-N-Dirty, Middletown, OH 4 0
2. Stiffler Softball, Powell, OH 4 2
3. M. J. Lowe, Lancaster, OH 3 2
4. Trophy Sports, Dayton, OH 2 2
5. Financial Solutions, Anmoore, WV 2 2
M & M Connection, Carlisle, OH 2 2
7. Team Typhoon, Hillsboro, OH 1 3
Free Agents, Middletown, OH 0 3
9. Secret Service, Cincinnati, Oh 1 2
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