Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS wins the prestigious Smoky Mountain Classic. The smoke finally cleared at the 2001 Great Smoky Mountain Classic at about 4:00 pm Sunday afternoon. I can tell you I’ve been to many Smoky’s, but it doesn’t get any better than this one. Long Haul/TPS wins for the eighth time this season, but it took one of the best come from behind games I’ve seen in some time. Long Haul started out with a bye, then won two games to reach the winners bracket finals. Dan Smith/Easton, on the other side of the bracket also drew a bye and won it’s first two games to get to the winner’s finals. Then the rumble was on, as the two best teams in the country got it on for the 7th time this season. Long Haul who has won six straight times against Dan Smith this season was looking to make it seven straight, but the Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton boys had other thoughts. Dan Smith jumped out scoring early and often and taking a 31-11 lead looking like they were going to run rule Long Haul. But hold on folks, Long Haul had other ideas and back they came to get it within 6 runs at the end of 6 innings. To the top of the 7th Dan Smith puts up a blank and up comes Long Haul trailing by 6 runs. This is how the bottom of the 7th went in the winners bracket finals; Boone leads off and pops out to 3rd., Shenk gets a base hit, Kendrick hits a homerun and Long Haul is within four,. Higginbotham draws a walk, Purcell hits a bullet, Todd Joerling makes a great play and Long Haul is down to it’s last out. Hold the phone, here comes Garris with Higginbotham on 1st. it’s GONE! and Long Haul is within 2. Up steps Wallace with 2 outs GONE! bringing Long Haul needing 1 to tie it, and here comes Bumgardner GONE!, with the huge crowd on their feet screaming, they’re seeing one of the BEST EVER at the Smoky’s or anywhere else in this GREAT GAME of Softball. Manager Pat Dalasanders calls time out and takes a trip to the mound, lurking on deck coming to the plate is one of the most clutch hitters this game has in Todd “Will” Martin. Now it’s Martin needing one swing to send Long Haul to the Championship game and the Dan Smith Boys in total shock. You guessed it GONE!, game over!!! It was one of the most unbelievable comebacks in the history of the game in a tournament of this magnitude. It had to be an unbelievable let down for the Dan Smith boys. They came right back out and proceeded to win the loser’s bracket final against a very tired Reece’s/Roosters/Easton, who played extremely well all weekend long to get the 3rd. spot and get their berth to the ASA Worlds. Reece’s was led by young Jeff Eddington and Chris Chilton, who were Co-Homerun Champions of the tournament with 19 homeruns. Reece’s also got a great weekend from their new addition David Hood who chipped in with 18 homeruns. Reece’s won the first game of the losers bracket on Sunday when they beat the very good Budweiser/Summerlin/I-Team Travel/Master Graphics/Easton team. Finishing in 4th place was the very good Pov’s/TPS team who had beat Hague/Resmondo/TPS Saturday on the last game of the night sending Hague/Resmondo home. The Pov’s boys couldn’t muster enough to get by Reece’s and had to settle for 4th place. Pov’s other loss was to Budweiser in a GREAT game 25-24. Now for the Championship game; Dan Smith played good for about 4 innings and then came Long Haul with a big inning and never looked back. Long Haul was led by MVP Jeff Wallace along with Jimmy Powers who killed it all day on Sunday. I will tell you this was a total team effort to win this one from the top to the bottom. Great Job and Congratulations to Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corps/TPS on a great win!! I would like to say once again Tournament Director Joe Huff continues to run and do a great job with the greatest tournament in Big Time softball. This tournament is special, it almost feels like being at a World Tournament with all the best teams in the country playing in it. There was some Great Softball played all weekend long. The ball used on the big field was a .44 core Worth and they used a .40 core Worth on the smaller fields. The smaller field at Sandy Springs produces a lot of runs and a lot of homeruns, especially with the wind blowing out all weekend on that field, which counted for some of the higher scores They also used 75′ bases this weekend, which made a big difference. I would of liked to of seen 80′ myself, but 75′ was fine. I would like to say “it was an enjoyable weekend for me, especially doing the play by play radio broadcast with their radio affiliate from Knoxville. I want to thank Dan Brown from the radio station for giving me the opportunity to do the broadcasting with him”. It was truly a great experience for me to be able to promote the Great Smoky Tournament and the Great Game of Softball. A special thank you to Joe Huff for his hospitality to me all weekend long. It sure is nice to be able to be involved with good people like Joe Huff.
1. Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corps/TPS
2. Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton
Co-Homerun Champions: Jeff Eddington and Chris Chilton from Reece’s/Roosters/Easton
MVP: Jeff Wallace – Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corps/TPS