Wilber Lime’s Band of Brothers rallies for NAFA championship

Written by Bob on August 11th, 2013

wilber.team.photo.97webWilber Lime won the 2013 NAFA AA World Series with a hard-fought 5-4 victory over Palasso’s Java House of Des Moines, Saturday. From left front, Matt Dale, Chip Timm, Travis Stram, Bob Loshek, Matt Stuhr, and Scott Gillitzer. Back left, Dan Stuhr, Dan Wall, Josh Marsh, Tim Hemmersbach, and Nate Berg. Photo By BOB OTTO

DES MOINES – Dan Wall found himself not throwing at his usual pace and out of sync. So he turned his trust over to his teammates and as a result Wall and Wilber Lime of Galesville, Wisconsin are NAFA World Series champions.

Down 3-0 in the first inning, Wilber Lime rallied for a 5-4 victory over a tough Palazzo’s Java House of Des Moines to claim the NAFA AA World Series championship late Saturday night.

Wall and his teammates found themselves on the short end in the top of the first after Palazzo’s took advantage of three walks, a hit batter and two hits off Wall too take the early lead.

But Wall had a little talk with himself and settled down the rest of the way.

“Tonight I was too excited and the adrenaline had kicked in, and I was working too fast,” Wall said. “I had to slow myself down. I have good teammates, so I had to trust in their ability to get outs and they did.”

wall.dan.wilberlime.52webWilber Lime pitcher Dan Wall won four games in the NAFA AA World Series and was named the Most Valuable Pitcher. Photo By BOB OTTO

Wall picked up his fourth win, allowing two earned runs on eight hits, five walks and seven strikeouts.

    WORKING OVERTIME

For Palazzo’s manager Tony Palazzo and coach Scott Smith, there was nothing to feel too bad about on this day that saw their team win five of six games after losing 4-0 to Wilber Lime earlier in the double elimination tournament. Palazzo’s stayed on the field for 12 straight hours to finish runner-up in the 12-team tournament.

“We have this will to win,” Palazzo said, whose ball club also finished runner-up in the 2009 AA World Series. “I’m proud of the team. As tired as they were they never quit.”

wilber.palazzo.5webWilber Lime shortstop Scott Gillitzer tries to tag out Palazzo’s Dusty Kain at second base. Photo By BOB OTTO

Palazzo’s long day included wins over Rice Lake (Wisc.), Lancaster (PA), CPI (New York), Napanee (Canada), and Willkomm Mobil (Wisc.) to set up the second meeting with Wilber Lime.

After trailing 3-0, Wilber Lime rallied for the championship by scoring two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth, and then won the game with a two-run sixth inning to take their first lead and get the win.

    BECKER AND COMPANY RALLIES

Wall got things started in the sixth with a walk. Bob Loshek sacrificed pinch runner Chip Timm to second, and Josh Marsh’s infield out moved him over to third. And that brought up veteran left-handed hitter, Marty Becker.

And he didn’t waste any time by slapping a low line drive over third base that sent Timm home with the tying run.

“I was looking for a strike and got one over the outside half of the plate,” said Becker, who also manages Wilber Lime. “Everybody stuck together and everybody backs each other. We’ve been a solid team all year.”

    BERG COMES THROUGH

Now, with the game tied 5-5, leadoff batter Nate Berg stepped into the right-side batter’s box and proceeded to drill a double up the middle that brought Becker racing home with the winning run.

Now it was up to Wall to hold a good hitting Palazzo’s.

His hard drop ball got Dusty Kain for the first out. But Benny Gardener worked him for a walk and Logan Albaugh fought off five pitches before ripping a line drive into right field. Now with runners at first and second, Chase Turner stepped into the left-side batter’s box.

But Wall buckled down and got the USA National Team player with a hard rise ball for the strikeout. Only one out remained, and Wall got it himself with a comebacker that he scooped up and tossed over to first baseman Josh Marsh for the final out.

Then the celebration began.

“I’ve never won a NAFA (championship),” Wall said. “We love each other and we’re a Band of Brothers. I’m so proud to win this with them and for Merna and Elmer (Wilber) and Sporty (John Salsman). We won this for them and our fans back home.”

The Wilber’s founded the team in 1974, and Salsman managed it for many years. Both the Wilbers and Salsman were inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame for their outstanding contributions to the sport.

Wilber Lime’s march to the title included a 5-1 win over the Bronx with Travis Stram allowing one run on six hits with eight strikeouts. From then on Wall took over by shutting out Palazzo’s 4-0 on a four-hit, 14 strikeout performance. He followed that by blanking Napanee, 2-0, on a one-hitter and eight strikeouts.

    CLASSIC PITCHERS DUEL

That set up a meeting with Willkomm Mobil and pitcher Todd Lubkeman. Wall was nearly perfect, blanking Willkomm, 1-0, on one hit with seven strikeouts. Lubkeman was about as good with a three-hit, four strikeout performance.

“He’s got a lot of heart,” Becker said of Wall. “He throws hard, makes the ball move and hits his spots.”

    AA DIVISION’S BEST

As a result, Wall was selected the AA Most Valuable Pitcher, while Nate Berg and Scott Gillitzer were named All-World. And Becker was selected the Most Valuable Player.

From Palazzo’s, pitcher B.J. Hunhoff, Benny Gardener, Nate Nukunuku, and Matt Palazzo were named All-World.

Willkomm Mobil had three All-World selections, including Jerrod Dulmes, Mark Nelson and Todd Lubkeman.

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