Cal-State Builders claim third consecutive NAFA Masters West championship

Written by Bob on September 18th, 2013

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By Dave Carlton / Owner and Manager, Cal-State Builders

CARSON CITY, NEV – The Cal-State Builders made its annual trip to Carson City, Sept. 13-15, with hopes of retaining the NAFA Masters World Series West 40-Over crown. The same rag-tag group from the previous two years consisted of 12-men (with newcomer Scott Budnick, Bothell, WA, and veteran Mario Pereira, Roseville, CA) who put their skills to the test as tough competition loomed.

The Portland Brewers – narrowly defeated last year at the hands of Cal-State ace Kevin Kammueller (Shakopee, MN) – were hungry to redeem the loss. The Boston Seadogs, eliminated in 2012 by Portland in a dramatic extra-inning walk-off, were similarly eager to avenge the past.

Ten hopefuls entered the NAFA West Masters, with Cal-State, Portland, and Boston opposite each other in separate pools.

    Cal-State 11, SoCal Quakes 0

Rain and heavy wind suspended Friday’s games deep into the night. Game one slated for 8 p.m. finally got started around 10:30. The SoCal Quakes sent veteran Doug Rooney to the mound to face Cal-State’s iconic big-man Kammueller.

The Builders showed no ill effects from the rain delay as they quickly plated seven runs in the top of the first inning, sending 13 men to the plate. Dean Waltier highlighted a six-hit inning with a two-run blast to the right field corner. Both Randy “The Hammer” Bitterman and Darin Michael posted two hits each, while Mark Summers and Scott Budnick added walks.

Former Builder Mario Pereira, who took a few years off from the team, added a base hit, and Duane Christensen began his path to tournament MVP with a single.

Kammueller began where he left off at the ISC World Tournament (ISC II All-World pitcher) by pounding the strike zone with nasty corners and wicked movement. The Quakes mustered three hits in the mercy-shortened contest but could not score a run off the stingy Builder’s ace.

Former University of Arizona standout Debby Day, the only female pitcher to ever pitch at the men’s event, took over for Rooney in the top of the second and held off the Builders until the fourth, when pinch-hitter Larry Machado got a rally started with a clean single.

kammueller.kevin.246web Kevin Kammueller shows the form that earned him ISC II All-World and NAFA Masters All-World. Photo By BOB OTTO / June 2013 California Classic Fastpitch Tournament

Four hits later Cal-State posted another four runs to move the mark up to 11-0, which shortened the game to just four innings, saving Kammueller’s arm. He finished with seven strikeouts as the Builder bats pounded out 14 hits.

    Cal-State 8, Cal-Neva Natives 0

Saturday morning, in game two of seeding play, the Cal-Neva Natives, behind the strong pitching arm of veteran Sonny Perkins, held the Builders scoreless into the third inning. Skipper Dave Carlton managed a leadoff double and was sacrificed to third with a difficult bunt from fast-man Darin Michael.

gp.tourn.5069lr Cal-State Builders player / manager Dave Carlton. Photo By BOB OTTO

Randy “The Hammer” laced a clean single to plate Carlton and secure the one-run lead. Waltier then drew a walk and Christensen followed with a big two-run double. Minnesota native Mike “Gator” Applegate then doubled in the speedy Christensen, followed by another double from Pereira.

The Builders added three more runs in the fourth inning highlighted by Waltier’s second automatic of the tournament (this one also to right field). Kammueller’s arm was again saved as he struck out nine and the bats supplied him with eight runs on nine hits. The Kammalope did scatter six hits but did not allow a run to cross the plate.

    Cal-State 7, SoCal Yard Dogs 0

Saturday night the Builders faced the SoCal Yard Dogs, a team that had taken Boston to the brink earlier in the tournament in what would have been one of the biggest upsets in recent years. The Yard Dog hitters plated eight runs against Boston veteran Paul Algar but the SeaDogs were able to rescue themselves with a seventh inning home run and snatch a 9-8 win.

Randy Clay started for SoCal as speedster Darin Michael bunted his way on and committed thievery to secure second base. The nefarious Michael would swipe a team-record eight bases in the tournament without ever being caught. Christensen, Gator and Machado all followed with singles to put the Builders a head 2-0.

Again, Kammueller defended the bottom half of the innings with blistering heat and Nintendo-like movement, baffling Yard Dog hitters. In the top of the third, Cal-State plated four more runs coupled with hits and porous defense.

In the fourth, All-World second baseman Larry Machado put the finishing touches on the win with an RBI single to plate pinch runner Dean Waltier (aboard for Christensen) with the seventh run and secure the mercy victory.

Kammueller picked up his third win on nine scalps, allowing two meager hits. Builder bats remained alive and consistent with 13 hits. Machado and Christensen led the attack with three hits each. Mark Summers added the only extra base hit – a towering double into the blackness out in right field as Cal-State relentlessly scored on singles and adept base running.

    Cal-State 9, Cal-Neva 2

Saturday night the Cal-Neva natives were able to beat the favored Utah squad and return to the semi-final against the Builders on Sunday morning. In a rematch of the earlier contest, the Natives sent Sonny Perkins to face Kammueller. In the top of the first, front man Michael donned his ninja black and bunted aboard as usual and went to work with the Mission Impossible theme playing in his head.

On two pitches he stood at third, oblivious to the crimes he had just committed. Randy “The Hammer” delivered a clutch sacrifice fly and the Builders were on the board. Skipper Dave Carlton added a solo automatic to left field in the second to move the mark up to 2-0 and in the fourth Summers and Pereira both put up singles and were moved over by a perfect Gator sacrifice bunt. Machado followed, as he did all tournament with a clutch two-run single to put the Black up 4-0.

In the seventh the doors finally fell off for Cal-Neva as Cal-State plated five more runs on a Carlton double, Bitterman triple, Deano single, Christensen two-bagger, and Summers single.

Veteran Dave Jordan came in to relieve Kammueller in the seventh and the Builders were able to claim a 9-2 win and move into the title match for the fifth time in six years and a chance to three-peat championships.

    Portland outlasts Boston, earns rematch with Cal-State

With a near-exact replay of the 2012 finish, the Boston SeaDogs and Portland Brewers settled in for a difficult and pressure-filled matchup. The Builders were treated to another epic semi-final as they awaited the winner and watched a battle between British Columbia native Rick Smith and Hall of Fame legend Darren Zack.

Boston led first with an early home run, but Portland battled back to take a sizeable lead. Boston would not yield and tied the game late on a huge home run. Both pitchers used everything in the tank to push their team over the hump but the game was sent into an extra frame and fans were treated to a classic one-run fight.

With the tie-breaker in affect, the SeaDogs were able to score a run in the top of the eighth in what appeared to be the advantage, but it would be Portland’s day as they scored two big runs to complete the walk-off win in the bottom of the eighth in the exact replay of 2012.

    Cal-State 9, Portland 2

In the championship game, with veteran Rick Smith weary from his epic win over Boston, the Brewers sent veteran Chris Bigelow to face the stone-arm of Kammueller.

Both teams tested the waters in the first, but could not score. In the second, Cal-State, the visitor for the fifth straight game, got big lead-off singles from Pereira, Applegate, and Machado to load the bases. An RBI ground out from Skipper Carlton broke the tie and a misplay on a Darin Michael bunt plated a second run to take the early 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the third, Kammueller finally showed he was human as Portland was able to score the first runs of the entire tournament off the big man. Following a very controversial double-play call at first base that would have ended the inning, but instead kept it alive, Portland’s Kevin Rasmussen and Rick Martin were able to both hit clean singles to eventually score two big runs and tie the match back up.

In the fourth, the Builders took the advantage back with a Machado lead off single, Darin Michael forcing another defensive misplay, RBI ground out from The Hammer, and a clutch two-out RBI single from star Dean Waltier. Cal-State clung to the 4-2 lead and hoped to contain the powerful Portland lineup.

Kammueller remained tireless and pounded the strike zone. In the top of the fifth, Portland decided to replace Bigelow with Rick Smith. The inning started well enough for Portland with a line drive bullet out from Summers. But a walk to Pereira cracked the door open. Applegate, Machado, Carlton, Michael, Bitterman, Watier, and Christensen all hit consecutive singles to plate five more runs and break the back of the Brewer defense.

Trailing 9-2, the Brewers were on the mercy-kill chopping block and only three outs left to survive. In the do-or-die bottom of the fifth, ISC Hall of Famer Todd Budke patiently selected his pitch and drove a line-drive bullet into deep right field, but Mark Summers, apparently studying the Budke film, stood at the fence with his glove up and the first out was recorded.

Veteran Doug Cain drew a walk and Kevin Rasmussen took a fastball in the knee to put the survival run at second, but Rick Martin was coaxed into a fly out. Jody Simmers battled a very tough walk to load the bases and Portland was in business with two out.

But Mark Love’s hard ground ball to third was scooped up by Dean Waltier, who touched third on the force out, ending the Portland threat.

Machado and Waltier lead the offensive attack with three hits each including doubles as the Builders posted 15 hits. Kammueller only struck out two Brewers but used his defense and scattered five hits to win another championship.

    Cal-State Builders’ All-World players

Kammueller’s 5-0 record and 0.56 ERA garnered him the Most Valuable Pitcher award. Duane Christensen, with an impressive 10 for 15 weekend earned the Most Valuable Player award. Larry Machado’s .615 batting average, Mark Summer’s .500, and Randy “The Hammer” Bitterman’s .444 with 10 RBIs all earned All-World status.

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