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Urbaneja and Scott lead Scarborough Force over the A-1 Bombers

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

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MOLINE, IL – Erick Urbaneja drove in the go-ahead run, Don Scott made it stand up, and the Scarborough Force defeated the A-1 Bombers, 4-3, Wednesday night in a battle of the unbeatens.

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Sunday, July 5th, 2015
Sean Cleary allowed one hit in pitching Canada to a 10-0 win over Venezuela to advance Team Canada into the Gold Medal game of the 14th ISF Men's World Softball Championship, Sunday, July 5.

Sean Cleary allowed one hit in pitching Canada to a 10-0 win over Venezuela to advance Team Canada into the Gold Medal game of the 14th ISF Men’s World Softball Championship, Sunday, July 5.

SASKATOON, SK, Canada – In somewhat of a surprise, Venezuela started its No. 2 pitcher, Erick Urbaneja, rather than handing the ball to Ramon Jones against Canada in the Bronze Medal game, Sunday morning.

All Jones had done was win six games in the ISF Men’s World Softball Championship including back-to-back, one-hit shutouts in the playoffs to get his team to this desirable juncture in the championship round.

Was the pitching decision made to counter the left-handed Urbaneja against the seven lefties in Canada’s lineup? Was it made because his slower speed and great change-up had given Canada problems in the past?


Maybe so. But it didn’t work. And the way Canada was swinging the bats, it probably didn’t matter who Venezuela threw at them.

Team Canada exploded from the starting gate by torching Urbaneja for four runs on five hits including two home runs by Brad Ezekiel and Steve Mullaley to send the left-hander to the bench. Another lefty, Eder Pineda, came on in relief, but he wasn’t effective either as Canada continued the onslaught.

And before the first inning had ended, Canada had sent 10 batters to the plate, scored six runs on seven hits, and the game was essentially over as Canada went on to win 10-0 in a mercy-rule, four innings.

The win moves Canada into the Gold Medal game, Sunday afternoon against the defending 2013 champion New Zealand Black Sox.


Canada kept pounding the ball, adding four more runs in the third, highlighted by Ezekiel’s bases-loaded triple. Canada’s center fielder and No. 2 hitter was perfect in going 2-for-2 with five RBI, including his first-inning homer.

Brad Ezekiel hit a home run and accounted for five of Canada's 10 runs against Venezuela.

Brad Ezekiel hit a home run and accounted for five of Canada’s 10 runs against Venezuela.


Sean Cleary got the start for Canada and he was on top of his game, mixing his rise ball effectively with his knee-buckling change-up against the free and hard-swinging Venezuelans.

The right-hander struck out six of the first nine batters he faced and carried a perfect game into the fourth inning. But pinch hitter, Kerlis Rivero, broke up Cleary’s gem with a clean single.

Venezuela continued to threaten by loading the bases on an error and walk, but Cleary struck out Edwin Linares to end the game and send Canada into the Gold Medal game with New Zealand, waiting in the wings.


Venezuela exits the world softball championship with the Bronze Medal, finishing 3-1 in the championship round and third in Pool B at 5-2. Venezuela has shown outstanding ability at the world level, taking the Silver Medal in the 2013 ISF World Championship.


The win boasts Cleary’s record to 5-0 (2-0 in the playoffs). Against Venezuela, he allowed the one hit and struck out nine. All totaled, Cleary has pitched 30 2/3 innings, allowing 11 hits, crafting a 2.05 ERA, with 12 walks and 45 strikeouts.

Now the question? Will Cleary get the ball and go as far as he can against New Zealand? Or will Canada Head Coach John Stuart opt for left-hander Paul Koert, or the young right-handed Devon McCullough?

On Saturday the two teams met and Cleary lasted just 2 2/3 innings before being lifted after allowing two earned runs on three hits. New Zealand went on to rough up relievers Paul Koert and Devon McCullough as well in a 9-5 victory, earned largely by four home runs.

Gold Medal game time is 1:30 p.m. PDT. To watch live, visit: Sports Canada TV

Disastrous miscues lead to USA loss to Venezuela in ISF Men’s World Softball Championship

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

SASKATOON, SK, Canada – Late Tuesday night the United States men’s national softball team was probably frustrated and angry and thinking that they had just lost a game they should have won.

And they had good reason for such feelings.

Team USA saw victory slip away as Venezuela took advantage of walks, passed balls and wild pitches to escape with a 3-2 win in Pool B of the ISF Men’s World Softball Championship at Bob Van Impe Stadium.

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Wisconsin’s Circle Tap loaded with foreign talent

Sunday, February 9th, 2014


Matt Palazzo from Iowa who will be wearing the Circle Tap uniform after spending last season with the California A’s. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2013 California Classic

DENMARK, WISC – Arguably Wisconsin is one of the healthier states when it comes to men’s fastpitch softball. I think I’ll get agreement on that. So when I see that Circle Tap’s 2014 ISC roster has only five Wisconsin players listed, it makes you wonder: Can’t U.S. teams find talented position players any more?

Importing foreign pitchers from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Venezuela, I get that; we don’t have an abundance of Open-caliber pitchers in the states. But POSITION players? Has the sport fallen on such hard times that we can’t find talented infielders, outfielders and catchers?

I counted and Circle Tap has three Australians, three Argentinians, one Venezuelan, and one player each from Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Washington. So, from a 17-player roster just five are from Wisconsin.

Now, I’m not picking on Circle Tap. The way the sport is today, you have to do whatever it takes to win an ISC World Tournament. Over the past three decades, the annual half dozen or so teams that have a legitimate chance of winning the World Tournament have been going the import route – but in the past it was primarily for pitching.

So the bigger question and dilemma: How can men’s fastpitch possibly revive itself in the U.S. if we can’t even entice young talented infielders, outfielders and catchers to our sport?

The 2014 Circle Tap Dukes of Denmark, Wisc.

Justin Colombo Kimberly, WI
Jim Corbett Green Bay, WI
Tom Crouch DeKalb, IL
Chris DeLarwelle Denmark, WI
Joel Goodall Australia
Lucas Goring Apple Valley, MN
Bryan Hansen Denmark, WI
Todd Malnory Menasha, WI
Chris Miljavac St. Joseph, MO
Bruno Motroni Argentina
Matt Palazzo Des Moines, IA
Fernando Petric Argentina
Juan Potolucchio Argentina
Pat Sagdal Richland, WA
Ryan Sinclair Australia
Erick Urbaneja Venezuela
Lewis Weldon Australia

Dean Kane
CT Fastpitch

Someone to know: Argentina fastball pitcher Pablo Masmu

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Pablo Masmu, 20, is one of several talented foreign pitchers pitching for elite men’s fastpitch clubs in the U.S.

MASCOUTAH, ILL – In fastpitch softball, the U.S. is like a magnet pulling talented foreign pitchers to its ball diamonds eager to challenge the world’s elite hitters with their risers and drops, change-ups and curves.

Many foreign pitchers have established great careers in the U.S. such as White and Meredith, Mata and Folkard, Potolicchio and Gervasutti.

And now there’s Pablo Masmu. The 20-year-old from Argentina is pitching for Pete’s Blues of Mascoutah, Ill. And it looks like Pete’s found a gem.

His 2012 resume shines with success. The right-hander helped his country win the International Softball Federation (ISF) Junior Men’s World Championship in Parana, Argentina last November. Where he was chosen the ISF’s Most Valuable Player.

Three months earlier, Masmu helped Argentina (7-0) win the 2012 ISC Under-21 World Championship in Midland, Michigan. He was one of the tournament’s elite pitchers, earning All-World for his 4-0 record, 0.43 ERA, and 28 strikeouts in 16.1 innings.

Certainly he enjoyed a great 2012. But Masmu’s not resting on his laurels. He’s off to a great start this season. Recently he pitched Pete’s Blues to the championships of the Kelso Klassic, going 3-0 and allowing just four hits and no earned runs in 15 2/3 innings.

When the tournament awards were passed out, Masmu was chosen the Most Valuable Pitcher.

“Pablo is very mature and confident in the circle for a 20 year-old kid,” said Pete’s Blues infielder and coach Dave Perkins. “He threw a perfect game against a good Franny’s Ole Irish Pub from Springfield, IL, then held down a Bloomington Stix lineup (3-2) full of current and future Aussie Steelers for two games on Sunday. Every time Pablo steps in the circle, we have a chance to win.”

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Venezuela knocks off defending champion Australia to reach gold medal game

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – The Venezuelan fastball team doesn’t rely on one pitcher to carry the load, choosing instead more of a “pitching-by-committee” approach.

Through pool play and in the playoffs, four pitchers took their turn in the circle.

On Sunday in the Bronze medal game against Australia, it was Erick Urbaneja’s turn, and he responded with five innings of shutout pitching. After he gave up a lead off single in the sixth, “the committee” summoned right-hander Ramon Jones.

It proved a wise change because Jones responded by continuing the shutout the rest of the way as Venezuela knocked off Australia, 2-0, to advance to the Gold medal game against New Zealand.

The victorious Venezuelans celebrated after the final out by rushing the mound, embracing Jones, dancing about and back slapping in glee. And rightfully they should.

For this marked an epic achievement: it’s the first time Venezuela has ever advanced into the ISF World Championship Gold medal game.

No one was happier and more exuberant than catcher Rafael Flores. He was so excited that he embraced an Australian coach. And then sprawled face-first on the ground from sheer emotion.

“We are a family,” said Flores through an interpreter. “I am really proud of our team.”

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Venezuela holds off Canada in ISF World Softball Championship playoffs

Friday, March 8th, 2013

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – The Canadian Men’s National Fastball Team came into the 13th International Softball Federation World Championship with one of the strongest hitting lineups.

In claiming the top spot in Pool B, with a 6-1 mark, Canada outscored its opponents 43-12.

So going into the first playoff game against Venezuela, it stood to reason that the Canadians would score a few runs.

But Erick Urbaneja and Ramon Jones had other ideas.

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