2001 USSSA NIT Kettering, MD

Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton came out this weekend to get back on track, and that’s exactly what they did. With the new homerun rule in effect for the first time on 300’ fields, with a .40 core Dudley ball, none of the teams were exactly sure what would happen. The Dan Smith boys used good base hitting, combined with using their homeruns allowed when they counted, and had no problems adjusting as they cruised to the Championship. Dan Smith was really not threatened much throughout the tournament and was leading by a bunch going into the bottom of the 7th, and Buckeye/Eagle Group made a run, to get within 6, but came up short, and that was as close as anybody got to Dan Smith all weekend long. Pov’s/Walser Chevy/Reebok/TPS, who came to this tournament looking for their berth were beaten in their first game by Smokes/ABS/TPS. Smokes, who captured the Rock Hill Tournament when Pov’s had to leave to catch their flights, were leading by 17, couldn’t wait for this week’s re-match. Smokes won it on a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the 7th 26-25. The Minnesota boys came charging out of the losers bracket and once again the battle was on between Smokes and Pov’s with the winner getting their trip to Disney. Pov’s came out flying and proceeded to ”smoke” Smokes and get what they wanted, a berth to the USSSA World Series. Make no mistake about it, Smokes is a very good Class A team and will contend for a National title, as well as the very good Pov’s boys in the AA Worlds. Finishing up in fourth place was Viggiani Plumbing out of New Jersey, who had veteran Tommy White playing for them, and as usual Tom had an excellent tournament going 14-16 with 7 bumps. Dan Smith was led by MVP Todd Joerling, and the Defensive player of the tournament and good hitting infielder Dennis Rulli. The Pov;s team was led by Todd Volkers and Richie Aliotti. Volkers, who was injured from sliding into 2nd. base couldn’t play anymore, along with a couple of other players who had also sustained injuries. They couldn’t continue after the first half inning of the Championship game, thus the tournament was over. It was a good weekend for Dan Smith as far as winning, but only playing 3 games with most of the boys only getting 12-14 swings, it certainly wasn’t what they had hoped for I’m sure. Dan Smith quoted “stats aren’t the most important thing, winning is what it’s all about”. As far as the new homerun rule, what I observed watching almost every game of the tournament, is that the rule seems good when the A teams play each other and makes for a pretty competitive game. When the better teams are using the new rule it doesn’t stop them from run-ruleing those good A teams. I was hoping at the end to see Pov’s being able to play against Dan Smith to see how that game would have turned out, but I guess we’ll have to wait for another time. I want to congratulate Bob Holland and his entire staff for a job well done, especially having to deal with all the rain and getting this tournament completed, and also to say what a fine job the umpires did..

All Tournament Team

Viggiani Plumbing: Tom White, David Cutright

Smokes/ABS/TPS: Scott Grant, Steve Helewicz, Keith Roberts

Pov’s/Walser Chevy/Reebok/TPS: Todd Volkers, Richie Aliotti, Bryson
Baker, Chaun DeMars

Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton: Jeff Hall, Brett Helmer, Todd
Joerling, John McCraw, Dennis Rulli

Offensive Player: Todd “Bucky” Volkers

Defensive Player: Dennis Rulli

Homerun Champion: Alex Lavorico (12)

MVP: Todd Joerling

1. Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton
2. Pov’s/Walser Chevy/Reebok/TPS
3. Smokes/ABS/TPS
4. Viggiani Plumbing

USSSA Berth (Pov’s/TPS)