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Team USA holds off CR Bartels Farms in Vancouver Challenge

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

VANCOUVER, BC, Canada – The USA Men’s National Softball Team hasn’t been challenged much during pre-world softball tournament play, but that changed in the second round of the Vancouver Challenge, Saturday afternoon.

In a tight contest, Team USA broke a 1-1 deadlock in the bottom of the fifth inning by scoring twice to escape upset-minded CR Bartel Farms of Eugene, Oregon, 3-1.

Pinch runner Gil Saenz scored on an infield error, and Erick Ochoa’s deep sacrifice fly brought home Jon Lynch with the final tally in a game shortened to five innings (apparently under a time limit rule).

Bryce Kay blasted a solo home run in the third to give Team USA the early lead, but CR Bartels evened the score in the fifth when Jenner Christensen singled, stole second base and eventually scored on a passed ball.

Rich Haldane was tough on the Americans, spinning a three-hitter with four strikeouts and allowing two earned runs.

In his first appearance for Team USA, Jeremy Manley picked up the win with 4 1/3 innings work, while allowing three hits, no earned runs, and striking out two. Tony Mancha came on to get the final two outs to pick up the save.

The win improves Team USA to 2-0 in the tournament and boosts their overall record to 15-0 in preparation for the WBSC Men’s World Softball Championship, July 7-16. But the Americans will be tested later Saturday night in the featured game-of-the-day when they take on powerful Canada.

Team USA’s three hits came from Kay, Marcus Tan and Chris Heinline. CR Bartels countered with hits from Kevin Rasmussen, Christensen and Tyson Barkman.

Kronk and Haldane hook up in pitchers duel

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Winterset A’s 2, Seattle Cal-State Builders 1

winterset.kronk.marshall.69 Marshall Kronk, a 19-year-old Australian led the Winterset A’s to a 2-1 victory over the Cal-State Builders to advance to the winners bracket final in the NAFA AA-Major championship, Friday. Kronk struck out 12 with his No. 1 pitch: “The rise ball is my out pitch,” he said.

The Builders’ Rich Haldane and the A’s Marshall Krong hooked up in a pitchers duel in the NAFA AA-Major playoffs, but Kronk, a 19-year-old Australian from Brisbane, Queensland, came out the winner in this NAFA AA-Major matchup.

Winterset pulled out a 2-1 win by scoring twice in the third inning on back-to-back singles by shortstop Bryce Kay (2 for 4) and Jason Darling (1 for 4), whose short fly ball fell safely in left field and sent Kay racing home. A throwing error on the play then allowed Kay to cross the plate safely for the second run.

builders.moore.HR.147webA Ricky Moore is congratulated by Builders manager Dave Carlton after hitting a home run in the seventh. Photo By BOB OTTO

Catcher Ricky Moore (2 or 3) gave the Builders hope in the bottom of the seventh by launching a line drive home run deep over the left field fence. But Kronk toughened by getting a ground ball and a strikeout to end the game.

Kronk had his rise ball spinning sharply over the bats of the Builders, but he left one a little too sweet for Moore, and the right-side hitter crushed it.

“They were chasing my rise ball high,” said Kronk, who improved to 3-0 in the tournament and went 2 for 4 off Haldane. “But I left the rise ball down the middle and inside and fat (to Moore).”

winterset.kay.brice.169webWinterset shortstop Kay Bryce made the play of the game when he raced into left field to catch a short fly ball; he collided with centerfielder Jason Darling but hung on to the ball. Photo By BOB OTTO

Other than that, both hurlers matched each other almost pitch for pitch. Both notched 12 strikeouts. Haldane allowed six hits, Kronk gave up five. And both pitchers gave up just one earned run a piece in this classic pitchers’ duel.

The win moves Winterset into the winners bracket final where they will take on the Fargo Kegel Black Knights who beat the West Fargo Knights 8-2.

The championship game is scheduled for 7:40 p.m. tonight at the Greater Des Moines Softball Complex.

Wrapping up the 2013 California Classic Men’s Fastpitch Tournament

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

SANTEE, CA – If you’re a men’s fastpitch fan living in southern California, there’s not much in the way of top-flight tournaments to watch. Except the California Classic. It’s the only big-time tourney being offered south of Santa Barbara where Clyde Bennett hosts the Best of The West.

Now concluding its fourth consecutive year, the Classic offers good competition. This year the Sooke Loggers of British Columbia, CA stopped the California A’s from claiming its fourth consecutive title with a 9-6 victory on Sunday.

Some thought California was heavily favored. That the A’s – loaded with international stars – were a superior team. Especially with Argentine and ISC All-World pitcher Lucas Mata toeing the rubber.

Schellenberg.Kevin.CalifA's.430web Shortstop Kevin Schellenberg is one of several international stars who play for the California A’s. He’s been a member of Team Canada that finished fifth in the 2013 ISF World Championships.

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Sooke Loggers upend California A’s to claim Classic title

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Sooke’s Scott Lieph, left, and Rich Haldane, middle, combined to pitch the Sooke Loggers of Sooke, British Columbia, Canada to the 2013 California Classic championship, denying world-class pitcher, Lucas Mata, right, of the Bakersfield, California A’s the victory. Photo By BOB OTTO

SANTEE, CALIF – The pitching and the hitting have been solid, and at times spectacular. As a result? Tournament championships – four in fact.

The Sooke Loggers from British Columbia, Canada, clinched their latest title in the Fourth Annual California Classic on Sunday by beating the host Bakersfield, California A’s 9-6 in a contest that featured four home runs and a combined 22 hits.

A hitters’ game?

Certainly, but also one that featured some fine pitching. Especially that of Sooke’s Rich Haldane. The tall right-hander from Great Britain came on in the fifth inning in relief of starter Scott Lieph, and pitched masterfully to pick up the save.

In three innings of relief, Haldane scattered two hits, struck out three, and didn’t allow any runs to an A’s team loaded with great hitters, one through nine.

Sooke manager Len Banner’s decision to make the pitching change was masterful in its timing. California’s Matt Palazzo had just belted a home run, cutting the Loggers’ lead to 8-6 in the fifth. And the A’s seemed to be gauging the 23-year-old Lieph’s hard riser and drop. But Banner, knowing his two pitchers’ skills, didn’t hesitate in making the change.

“They are a good combination and pick each other up,” Banner said. “Scott is a hard thrower and Rich hits his spots, moves the ball around, and changes speeds a bit more than Scott does.”

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Sooke Loggers claim NAFA Open-Holm Classic title

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

FARGO, ND – In fastpitch softball, ball players must have short memories. They must put bad outings and disappointing losses behind them.

Sometimes easier said than done. The Sooke Loggers would know.

In last year’s NAFA Open World Series championship, the Loggers suffered a gut wrenching, 9-8, loss to the Circle Tap Dukes. After leading by four runs in the seventh inning, the Loggers saw that hefty lead vanish as Circle Tap rallied for five runs to seize the title.

But there would be no gut-wrenching loss this year. No going back to British Columbia, Canada disappointed. Loggers’ pitcher Scott Lieph made sure of that.

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Sooke Loggers reaching for top rung in NAFA Open

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

FARGO, ND – last year the Loggers of Sooke, British Columbia, Canada, threw their hat into the NAFA arena for the first time, liked what they saw, and are making a return engagement.

Sooke, which finished runner-up to the Circle Tap Dukes in the 2012 NAFA Open World Series with a 5-1 record, are one of ten teams competing for the championship in the 2013 NAFA Open – Holm Classic Tournament in Fargo, North Dakota, June 14-16.

For field manager Len Banner, the NAFA Open is one of two top men’s fastpitch tournaments his No. 15 ranked Loggers will enter this season.

“I told the boys that this may be the best tournament besides the ISC (World Tournament) that we play in this year and our heads will have to be in it from the first pitch till the last out,” said Banner, adding that the Loggers’ strength relies on speed through out the line up along with four or five guys who can hit with power.

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