Unranked Topeka Toros topple ISC big guns to take Tin Cup Challenge

Written by Bob on August 2nd, 2017

2017 TOPEKA TOROS include Carlos Carreno, Matt Chambers, Jaime Garcia, Jr., Peyton Hall, Travis Nevin, Jared Pinkerton, Brogan Potter, Rogelio Sequera, Zac Shaw, Tony Sparvier, Tyler Thomlinson, Matt Thornton, Jeremy Kenney, Carlos Ucero, player / manager Josh White and coaches Terry White and Mike Watson. 2017 ISC World Tournament roster

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. – The Topeka Toros weren’t ranked among the world’s top men’s fastpitch softball teams coming into the Tin Cup Challenge, but after the Toros impressive performance, one must ask, why not?

The Toros went undefeated (5-0) in blazing their way past five International Softball Congress top-16 ranked teams to claim the eight-team Challenge, culminating with a 5-0 victory over No. 6 Circle Tap Dukes of Denmark, Wisc. in the championship, July 30.

The key to the Toros success?

“Good pitching combined with top-level defense and timely hitting was the key to our success,” said player / manager Josh White. “We had our moments offensively. We seemed to score early in most of our games and we seemed to be able to get the lead-off guy on base. Everyone seems to be contributing offensively one through nine.”

Topeka essentially broke the title game open by plating four runs in the second inning, led by Zach Shaw’s three-run homer and Carlos Carreno’s RBI single. Carreno also tripled in the fifth and came around to score on Rogelio Seguera’s sacrifice fly for the final tally.

Carreno – batting in the third slot – was 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored. Shaw went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI, Matt Chambers was 2-for-4 and Tony Sparvier and Jared Pinkerton had a hit a piece.

DEFENSE AIDES LEFTY’S PERFORMANCE

In the circle, left-handed, 34-year-old Tony Sparvier (2-0) of Saskatoon, Canada held Circle Tap’s skilled batsmen to just one hit and two walks with three strikeouts. New Zealander Wayne Laulu’s double in the first inning was the only blemish on Sparvier’s resume.

“Tony did a good job of mixing speeds and keeping the ball down in the zone,” White said. “In the final, he faced 23 hitters and only had three strikeouts. Tony does a nice job of working ahead and throwing to contact if needed. Fortunately, we have a very strong defense behind him.”

Sparvier retired the Dukes in order in the third, fourth, sixth and seventh. After solo walks in the second and fifth, he induced an inning-ending double play and a ground out to end any potential threat.

For Circle Tap, Martin Gonzalez went two innings giving up four runs (two earned) on five hits before handing the ball off to Sebastien Gervasutti, who allowed a run on four hits with six strikeouts over the final five innings.

KNIGHTS KNOCKED OUT

After going 3-0 in pool play, the Toros opened the playoffs by defeating the ISC’s No. 11 team the Kegel Black Knights, 5-2.

Kegel surged ahead early 2-0, but the Toros plated three runs in the fifth and two in the seventh to move into the title game. Chambers and Rogelio each drove in a pair of runs, and Shaw drilled a run-scoring triple to power the offense.

Carlos Ucero (2-0) got the call and held Kegel to two runs on five hits with four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. Sparvier wrapped it up with one-hit shutout relief.

In pool play, Topeka knocked off Circle Tap, 2-1, and No. 15 ranked Ostrander Norsemen, 8-2, along with an 8-0 whitewash of the Rice Lake, Wisc. Orangemen. Jeremy Kenney (1-0) twirled a gem in the win over Circle Tap on a two-hitter with nine strikeouts, and the run was unearned.

“All three of our pitchers threw well over the weekend,” White said.

TOP TOURNEY UP NEXT

The Toros improved to 11-2 in tournament play, and along with the Tin Cup Title, they finished first in the Heart of The Ozark’s tournament in Springfield, Missouri, and tied for fifth in the Boys of Summer Classic in Denmark, Wisc.

But the Toros season is far from over. The ISC World Tournament (Aug. 12-19) looms ahead as the major challenge of the season. But White believes his ball club is ready to accept the challenge.

“This will be our fifth appearance at the ISC World Tournament,” he said. “We have had mostly the same core of guys the last three years. As the years go by and we play more of the top teams and pitchers, our guys seem to gain confidence.”

“(But) we must play sound defense, minimize mistakes, capitalize on our opponent’s mistakes and get a few lucky bounces,” Shaw added. “So much of the ISC is about match-ups and a familiarity with your opponent. At this level, most anyone can beat anyone on any given day. That is what makes the event so much fun. Good competition, camaraderie among familiar foes and an overall great tournament atmosphere.”

The Toros may be unranked, but they certainly can’t be overlooked.

  • To view the entire tournament results, click on Gary Baughman’s statistics posted on Al’s Fastball website.
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