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Mark Finchum/ Kimball/ Atrium Stops Southern Comfort 18-6 In USSSA Great Lakes Men’s “D” National Finals At Expressway Park 

Milford, Oh.—Mark Finchum/Kimball/Atrium Softball stopped a furious run through the losers’ bracket by Southern Comfort, mercy-ruling the Edmonton, Ky. team 18-6 in the second championship game to capture first place in the USSSA Great Lakes Men’s “D” National Tournament August 30-September 1 at Expressway Park.

 

Southern Comfort had forced an “if” game with a 13-9 victory over Mark Finchum in the first finals.  The bluegrass team compiled a 10-2 record, winning nine straight games in the losers’ bracket after suffering a 14-4 setback to PKB Boys of Urbana, Oh. in a second round contest.  Southern Comfort had opened play with a 16-15 victory over Redmen of Huntington, WV.

 

Mark Finchum went 5-1 to outlast the 24-team field.  The Springfield, Oh., club marched past Team Bailey/Troy Fish & Game 11-0, Cincinnati Dynasty 5-4, M. J. Lowe 16-12 and Dirty Sports/Durbin Bowl 9-6 in the winners’ bracket finals.

 

The champions outscored their opponents by a combined 58-41 margin en route to the title.

Tournament MVP’s Mychal Hill, left, of Mark Finchum/Kimball/Atrium, and Todd Pollston, right, of Southern Comfort. Photo by Mike McNutt.

Tournament MVP’s Mychal Hill, left, of Mark Finchum/Kimball/Atrium, and Todd Pollston, right, of Southern Comfort. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

Both Mark Finchum and Southern Comfort picked up a paid berth to the USSSA “D” World Tournament September 11-13 in Kissimmee, Fl.  The winners also earned $600 in USSSA travel expense.

 

Mark Finchum manager Dan DeWitt said his team was motivated by two “incentives” to win the tournament.

 

“We were coming off an 0-2 State Tournament, plus my 62nd birthday was Thursday (August 28th), and I told our players that winning the Nationals would be a nice birthday present,” remarked DeWitt.  “So we fed off that, and – as always – we try to play together as a team.”

 

In addition, said DeWitt, his team got help from everyone in the lineup.

 

“It seemed like in all six games, whether we batted ten or eleven, a different guy got the big hit or made the big play all the way through the lineup.  It never was the same person.  Each player stepped up in a different way throughout those six games.

 

Seven team members were named to the All-Tournament Team, including Mychal Hill (.636), Anthony “Ant” Mattix (.733), Andrew DeWitt (.684), Josh Wright (.619), Drew Johnson (.579), Storm Stidham (.526) and Chris Baker (.526).

Mark Finchum/Kimball/Atrium’s Anthony Mattix was named the tournament’s Defensive MVP. Photo by Mike McNutt.

Mark Finchum/Kimball/Atrium’s Anthony Mattix was named the tournament’s Defensive MVP. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

Hill was named Tournament MVP “because of his defense at 2nd base and his offense.

 

“With all the opportunities he had, he didn’t have hardly any errors throughout the tournament, and it always seemed like he made the routine plays,” said DeWitt.  “His selection was based on both his stats and the decision of the other players.”

 

Pitcher Anthony Mattix was picked the Defensive MVP “because of his pitching.

 

“He only gave up thirty-seven runs in six games – just a little over six runs per game, which is almost unheard of,” observed DeWitt.  “In the winners’ bracket finals against Dirty Sports, they had just come off a game in which they scored thirty-three runs, and he held them to six.

 

“Also, he led our team in hitting,” noted DeWitt.

 

DeWitt said his team “thrives off the energy” off his son, Andy.

 

“He was our second leading hitter and he really stepped up this weekend,” said DeWitt.  “He’s been through a lot of Nationals and Worlds and does what we expect him to do.”

 

Josh Wright “hit the way we expected him to and got the rbi’s we needed,” said DeWitt.

 

Middle infielder Storm Stidham, 1st baseman Drew Johnson and shortstop Chris Baker were all named to the All-Tournament Team for the same reason.

 

“They made the routine plays and all had key hits to help us win a game,” said DeWitt.

 

Jeremy Wentworth tripled and scored on an rbi single by Drew Johnson in the bottom of the 1st to provide Mark Finchum with the only run they would need in an 11-0 Anthony Mattix shutout victory over Team Bailey of Brookville, Oh. in game one.  Buddy Miesse added a two-run single in the 2nd to make it 3-0, then Mark Finchum broke the game open with five in the 3rd and three in the 4th.  Josh Wright and Andy DeWitt each contributed a two-run single in the 3rd, and Mychal Hill had an rbi double.  Mattix helped his own cause with a two-run single in the 4th.

 

Wentworth, Wright, Johnson, DeWitt and Mattix shared ten hits to pace the offense.

 

Next Mark Finchum used a three-run 4th to squeeze past Cincinnati Dynasty 5-4.  With their team trailing 3-2 after three and a half, Andy DeWitt doubled in the tying run, then Storm Stidham followed with a two-run double to give his club the lead at 5-3.  Dynasty answered with one in the top of the 5th, but neither team scored again, making the final 5-4.

 

Stidham, Drew Johnson, and Brian Plank had two hits each for the winners.

 

A seven-run 3rd and a five-run 5th helped carry Mark Finchum past M. J. Lowe/Mojo 16-12 in game two.  Trailing 6-1 after two and a half, Mark Finchum wrenched away the lead with a seven-run outburst in the bottom of the 3rd.  A two-run double by Mychal Hill trimmed the deficit down to 6-4, then later in the inning Chris Baker singled home the tying and go-ahead runs.  Mark Finchum tacked on five in the 5th and three in the 6th to open up a 16-7 lead.  Andy DeWitt had a two-run double and Ant Mattix a two-run single to account for four of their team’s five runs in the 5th, while the 6th featured a Baker rbi double and run scoring singles by Storm Stidham and Mattix.  M. J. Lowe rallied for five in the top of the 7th to close out the scoring.

 

Baker collected four hits, and Josh Wright, Brian Plank and Mattix each went 3-for-4.

 

That lifted Mark Finchum into the winners’ bracket finals against Dirty Sports/Durbin Bowl.  The Harrison team, which had just scored thirty-two runs against Burley Boys of Louisville, proved no match for Ant Mattix, who pitched his club to a 9-6 victory.  Andy DeWitt got the scoring underway with a two-run double in the top of the 1st.  Mattix had an rbi single in the top of the 2nd to offset a Dirty Sports score in the bottom of the 1st, then DeWitt picked up another rbi with a base hit in the 3rd, and Buddy Miesse and Storm Stidham added rbi singles to boost Mark Finchum advantage to a 6-1.  Dirty Sports outscored Mark Finchum 4-0 over the next two and a half innings to cut the deficit down to 6-5, but Mark Finchum pushed across two more runs on base hits by Josh Wright and Mychal Hill in the 6th, then added a run in the 7th on base hit by Chris Baker to make the final 9-6.

 

Hill and DeWitt were both perfect in four trips to the plate, and Colt Bloomfield chipped in with a 2-for-2 effort.

 

Meanwhile Southern Comfort was marching through the losers’ bracket, finally polishing off Dirty Sports 11-6 in the losers’ bracket finals to earn a berth into the championship game.  Mark Finchum appeared to have the game under control after exploding for nine runs in the bottom of the 2nd to take a 9-2 lead, but the Ohio team failed to score again.  Finally in the top of the 6th Southern Comfort plated five runs to take the lead for good at 10-9, then added three in the 7th to close out the scoring and force the “if” game.

 

But Southern Comfort’s grueling run through the losers’ bracket finally took its toll in the second finals.   After pushing across four run in the top of the 1st, Mark Finchum erupted for eleven in the 3rd to break open a 4-3 contest and take a commanding 15-3 lead.    Mychal Hill, who had doubled in two runs in the top of the 1st, added another two run double to ignite the scoring in the 3rd.  Brian Plank and Anthony Mattix also contributed two run doubles in the inning, and Josh Wright a two-run single.  The lead swelled to 17-3 on a Jeremy Wentworth two-run triple in the 4th.  Andy DeWitt closed out the scoring with an rbi single in the 5th, and Mark Finchum mercy-ruled Southern Comfort 18-6.

 

Hill pounded out four hits, and Andrew Johnson, DeWitt and Wright combined for nine to power the champions.

 

Mark Finchum manager Dan DeWitt acknowledged that he was “concerned” after losing the first finals to Southern Comfort 13-9.

 

“They had the momentum,” said DeWitt.  “But two or three players came up to me and said, ‘Danny, don’t worry.  They won’t beat us again.’

 

“So when we opened up with four, that put a smile on my face, but when we got the eleven runs, it was like our old team was back again.  Everybody stepped up and it took the momentum away from them because it was their twelfth game.  And when they didn’t score in the bottom of the 3rd, I felt comfortable.”

 

DeWitt said the he was “amazed” that after his team scored nine in the bottom of the 2nd and “just couldn’t find a way to score again.

 

“It was like we were stuck,” said DeWitt.  “They were very tired, but they were athletic, and make no mistake about it, they were a very good team.  They didn’t go ahead until the 6th, so we thought we were still going to win.  They added three in the top of the 7th, and we put up zeroes.  I was really shocked that we couldn’t score off and on.

 

“I would hate to play them fresh,” noted DeWitt.  “They had a great mix of veterans with younger players and they were very good.”

 

The National Championship was DeWitt’s third at Expressway Park, having previously won titles in 1984 and 2002.

 

“What I am most proud of is the duration of time it’s taken to do it,” said DeWitt.  “Most guys get in and win their titles and go away.  But I’m proud that we’ve had a competitive team for thirty years and did it three times over that period.

 

“I’m also proud that my guys have always been local,” said DeWitt.  “We’ve come from a thirty mile radius.  We’re just a small time team that has never had a high budget.”

 

DeWitt concluded by thanking Expressway Park for a well-run tournament.

 

“I definitely want to thank (Park Manager) Bob Owens and his whole staff,” said DeWitt.  “Bobby is a class guy, and that has always been my favorite place to play in Cincinnati.

 

“We’re also happy to be going on to Florida with a lot of points.  Hopefully the momentum from this will carry over.”

 

 

For final standings, tournament game scores and all-tournament team, please paste the following url into your browser: http://www.usssa.com/sports/tournament3.asp?TournamentID=1092341

 

This article is also available for viewing at www.ohiousssasoftball.com.

Mark Finchum/Kimball/Atrium Softball of Springfield, Oh. mercy-ruled Southern Comfort 18-6 in the second championship game to capture first place in the USSSA Great Lakes Men’s “D” National Tournament August 30-September 1 at Expressway Park.  Kneeling, left to right, are Andy DeWitt, Alec Horn, Jon Young, Storm Stidham, Jeremy Wentworth, Chris Jenkins, Mark Horn and Tim Fox.  Standing are Ant Mattix, Brian Plank, Drew Johnson, Josh Wright, Mychal Hill, Chris Baker, Colt Bloomfield, Buddy Miesse and James Mercer.  Not pictured: John Webster and J. D. DeWitt.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Mark Finchum/Kimball/Atrium Softball of Springfield, Oh. mercy-ruled Southern Comfort 18-6 in the second championship game to capture first place in the USSSA Great Lakes Men’s “D” National Tournament August 30-September 1 at Expressway Park.  Kneeling, left to right, are Andy DeWitt, Alec Horn, Jon Young, Storm Stidham, Jeremy Wentworth, Chris Jenkins, Mark Horn and Tim Fox.  Standing are Ant Mattix, Brian Plank, Drew Johnson, Josh Wright, Mychal Hill, Chris Baker, Colt Bloomfield, Buddy Miesse and James Mercer.  Not pictured: John Webster and J. D. DeWitt.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Southern Comfort went 10-2 en route to a runner-up finish in the USSSA Great Lakes Men’s “D” National Tournament August 30-September 1 at Expressway Park.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Southern Comfort went 10-2 en route to a runner-up finish in the USSSA Great Lakes Men’s “D” National Tournament August 30-September 1 at Expressway Park.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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