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2011 Toys 4 Tots Tournament Report

2011 United States Marine Corps Reserve

"Toys 4 Tots"

Palm Springs, California

December 10-11 

2000+ Toys were donated?

Fence Broker's/GameTimeSupply.com won the tournament

Back Row:  RF Jason Kendrick, Catcher Chris Walker, Manager Howie Krause, EH Vince Bisbee, P Jason Bridges, Corporal Jonathan O'Donnell, MI Andy Purcell, 2B Greg Connell, 1B BJ Fulk

Front Row: CF Tim Howard, 3B Jimmy Salas, Tournament Director Dennis Rulli, SS Don Dedonatis Jr, LF Scott Striebel

 

The Toys 4 Tots tournament lived up to its reputation as the best off season tournament in the nation in my eyes.  The quality of the teams and rosters rivaled that of a regular season Conference tournament and had some great story lines.

On Saturday 23 teams played the open division of the Toys tournament in 4 separate flights with the top 3 from each flight moving on to a Sunday single elimination tournament to decide the champion.  In flight play the tournament got off to a slow start as many of the favorites played some of the local 'C' teams that were "playing up".  These games resulted in some blowouts although the local 'C' teams did usually score some high run totals in the cool temperatures with the .44 core 400 compression bring your own ball event.  Over at the two fields at Demuth the ball was flying on the short fences and the weather was near perfect for softball during the day.

As the Saturday flight tournament went on there was only really one upset bid.  That was Anytime Garage who used some timely defense to keep themselves in the game until late against TYJA/Reebok but TYJA held on and won to advance to Sunday.

Most of the games were high scoring and pushed start times back almost 4 hours.  The top 3 match ups of the night were scheduled over at the Fenway Park Big League Dreams field and the 7 PM game didn't start until after 9 PM or so.

In the first big match up Demarini with a few of the GTL players like Victor Cordova, Kevin Filby, Chris Larsen, and Donovan Pokraka knocked off TYJA/Reebok who had a mix of Suncoast players with Billy Messina pitching and tournament director Dennis Rulli.

In the second game to decide flight winner's the Pitbulls put together by Chente Granados and his collection of southern Californias best knocked off "4 The Fallen".  Both teams were 2-0 at that point.

In the nightcap which ended after 2 AM in the morning, Nordkap upset Fence Broker's in a high scoring affair to earn a number one seed for the single elimination on Sunday.  Nordkap is the new Major team for 2012 with a mix of GTL, EWS, and Combat/Pharmapar players.  I apologize to Nordkap for Miss-reporting that they had lost to FBI.  I had put in the chat room that they were down 10 runs when I left at 2 AM and they were actually up by 10.  A major mistake on my part as I was in the bar trying to keep warm and wasn't paying enough attention to the game (STRO).  My fault at any rate and a huge win for the upstart Nordkap team to beat an FBI team that was full of Resmondo players.

Note: there are no scores on line like I thought there would be or even team names so I'm just winging it here.

 

"4 The Fallen" was an impressive runner up

Back Row: 2B Greg Zayas, RF Robert Blackburn, P Brian Martin, EH Darwin Vinson, Corporal Jonathan O'Donnell, Manager Chris Chaney, RF Miles Bush, MI Jake Mays, P Daxton Mamuyac

Front Row: C Jermaine Flythe, SS Mike Quarles, Tournament Director Dennis Rulli, 1B Rusty Bumgardner, CF Mike Rasso, 3B Cliff Williamson, LF Matt Suder

On Sunday morning bright and early at 8 AM the 12 team single elimination bracket started on the Fenway, Wrigley, and Yankee stadium fields.  All the fields were your typical BLD fields with short fence distances down the lines and bending out to 300 or 310 in center field and were made to look like mini replicas of their Major League counter parts.  These fields did have dirt infields which played hard and fast.

In the 4 "play in" games to decide who would play against the 4 flight winners, TYJA/Reebok won by forfeit against Avon.  "4 The Fallen" exploded to 40 runs in a win over a good Anaheim Swats team.  Victory knocked off Elite 42-23 on the Wrigley field and FBI cruised past Galindo 34-4.

In the second round TYJA came from a 22-18 deficit in the top of the 7th against Pitbulls to hold on and win.  Fence Broker's piled on a big first inning and held off Rack's/Sonny's fairly easily.  Victory stuck around against Nordkap and with two outs in the bottom of the 7th came up with two clutch singles to upset Nordkap who had their sites set on a rematch with FBI.  And finally "4 The Fallen" battled with Demarini.  Fallen had a 28-2 lead I believe at one point and Demarini, knowing Chris Larsen and Kevin Filby had to leave for the airport starting smashing the ball around the park to the tune of a 29-29 tie before The Fallen pulled a great win to advance to the final 4.

In the final 4 Fence Broker's got a bye when Victory players had to leave to catch flights home.  In the other semi-final "4 The Fallen" knocked off a short handed but very good TYJA/Reebok team in a shootout.

In the championship Fence Broker's came out of the gate with yet another double figure inning and beat a "4 The Fallen" team that just never gave up and pushed the game to 7 innings.

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An interview with Rusty Bumgardner and some video from the championship game

 

 


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Random video clips from Toys tournament


Crowds were big, the bar was packed eventhough it did get chilly when the sun went down


Demuth fields where more than half of the pool play games were played on Saturday

SBS and pitcher Brian Higginbotham take on "4 The Fallen"


  

Fenway Park at the Cathedral City "Big League Dreams" complex


A scenic view at the Yankee Stadium

The BLD had stadium seating behind homeplate and a packed bar most of the weekend


Wrigley Field with TYJA/Reebok in the field taking on Pit Bulls in the black in a close game

 


"Toys 4 Tots" Final Standings:

Sunday Single Elimination Bracket

     
 

Pitbulls

     

 

 

TYJA

   

Avon  0

TYJA

 

   

TYJA  7

 

 

4 The Fallen

 
 

Team Demarini

 

 

 

 

 

4 The Fallen

 

 

4 The Fallen  40

4 The Fallen

 

 

 

Anaheim Swats  5

   

 

FBI

 

Nordcap

 

 

 

 

 

Victory

 

 

Elite  23

Victory

 

 

 

Victory  42

 

 

FBI

 
 

Racks

 

   

 

 

FBI

   

FBI  34

FBI

     

Galindo  4

       

 

 


 Team by team notes brought to you by:


1st Place Fence Broker's/GameTimeSupply.com  GTGG 

5-1 Record

FBI which had 8 Resmondo players, plus Jason Kendrick, and two players from FBI in Chris Walker and Jason Bridges basically batted around their lineup in the first inning of every game they played.  Bridges did most of the pitching with Andy Purcell playing middle infield and the FBI/Resmondo mix came through in the end when they won 3 straight to win the Toys tournament.

Connell was hitting bombs and in general they basically played the game the right way the whole tournament and controlled all of the Sunday games for sure.


 


   

Pitcher Jason Bridges and Player/Sponsor Chris Walker were the FBI representatives and played VERY well

I believe Jimmy Salas hit the longest homerun of the tournament over at the Demuth fields.   Although Greg Connell hit some creatures as well.

  


2nd Place "4 The Fallen"  GTGG 

5-2 Record

"4 The Fallen" is a new Conference USSSA team that added two "guests" in Rusty Bumgardner and Robert Blackburn.  Rusty and Robo led the way and the rest of the team followed suit with huge weekend performances from the whole lineup.  In particular the two hitter Matt Suder who was hitting between Robo and Rusty was a key player and 4 hitter Cliff Williamson who backed Rusty up.  Both had MVP performances.  

The Fallen is an exciting military based team.  They have a roster full of military veterans and players that are direct descendants of military veterans and they are playing for the charity "4 The Fallen" which raises money for a multitude of causes.  You will be hearing more about this team, their players, and their causes in the near future here at SoftballCenter.com.  Anyone interested in sponsoring this team can contact me at dw@softballcenter.com and I will put you in touch with those in charge.


 
  

Rusty gives an interview with one of the Fallen founders Greg Zayas

Robert "Robo" Blackburn and Rusty were offensive machines that sparked an impressive top to bottom offensive performance

4 The Fallen had an impressive military style team effort

 Fallen third baseman Cliff Williamson backed up Rusty by hitting in the 4 hole and came through big
 

Last time I saw Brian Martin pitch he was winning back to back 'B' Worlds in 2002 and 2003.   He made some key defensive stabs up the middle to help Fallen make it to the championship game.

 


 

3rd Place TYJA/Reebok  GTGG 

3-2 Record


 Back Row: OF Francois Henry, RF Sean Boldt, 3B Rob Taylor, 1B Lee Trotter, Manager?

Front Row: MI Terry Rosenbalm, SS Luis Reyna, IF Mike Cervantes, IF/P Dennis Rulli, OF Dustin Roberts, CF Neil Haglund

Not Pictured: Sponsor/Manager Mark Weber and pitcher Billy Messina

TYJA/Reebok is a team with some of last years Suncoast and Darkside players plus Dennis Rulli, Billy Messina, and a couple of California players to fill in the gaps.  TYJA only stumbled once against Demarini and pulled off a nice come from behind win against Pitbulls on Sunday morning.  This team probably finished one game short as they lost to a "4 The Fallen" team that seemed destined to make it to the championship.


 
  

The left side of the TYJA infield – 3B Rob Taylor, SS Luis Reyna, MI Terry Rosenbalm

Luis Reyna added some switch hitting to his skill set

 


 

4th Place Victory  GTGG 

3-2 Record

Victory had a nice blend of players from The Scene and some locals from the Victory team and slugger Ed Vega who was under the weather all weekend.  Their come from behind upset of Nordkap had to be a big high lite of their softball careers and this team showed a lot of heart but had to forfeit against FBI to catch flights.

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Trevor Young ties the game and Jake Valdez wins it for Victory over Nordkap


Some of the Victory players

2B Mike Westfall
OF Matt Arlett
C  Mark Dennis
3B Charlie Case
SS Chris Arredondo
Trevor Young
1B Jake Valdez
Erin Smith
Ed "Kid" Vega
Ira Brown
Johnthan Lenz
P  Greg Barrios 

Pitcher Greg Barrios
 

Victory's Jonathan Lenz

Victory 3B Charlie Case


Tied 5th Place Nordkap  GTGG  

 3-1 Record

Nordkap had a signature win against FBI late on Saturday night/Sunday morning and showed they are a force to be reckoned with in 2012.  They also proved me right by stumbling on Sunday morning against a good Victory team to lose by 1 run.  This was unfortunate because Victory had to forfeit against FBI and Nordkap vs FBI would have been a great game.  Nordkap learns an early season lesson, but hey its only December and they played Sunday without pitcher Chad Munger who was hit in the elbow Saturday night.
 

 MI Chris Hansen
CF Brian Zirkle
SS Anthony Dress
3B JD Genter
RF Mike Bowlin
2B Sam Lopez
P  Travis Clark
1B Joey Formosa
EH Tyson Steele
LF Sal Formosa
P  Chad Munger
1B Josh Olson
C  Bob Olson

Managers
Mark Meersman
Rick Olson
 
  

Mike Bowlin brings his easy but powerful swing to Nordkap for 2012

Nordkap's Sal Formosa

Bob Olson (left) and Josh Olson (Right) and their dad Rick Olson (below) are the new Nordkap sponsorship on the Major scene for 2012.

Welcome, and thanks for supporting SoftballCenter.com


Tied 5th Place Demarini  GTGG 

3-1 Record

Demarini was a mix of GTL and Northern California C/B players.  They seemed to have fun but fell apart against "4 The Fallen" when their big righty/lefty combo of Larsen and Filby had to leave.  Even then, they only lost by a couple.  It was fun to see some knew talent at SS with Jack Chapman and Pitcher PJ Garcia among others.

Victor Cordova turns two for Demarini

 

T

Demarini outfielder Donovan Pokraka grew his hair out for strength

Demarini's Chris Larsen mashes one into the golf course…"FOUR!"


Tied 5th Place Racks Gentlemans Club  GTGG 

 3-1 Record

Racks had a few players from Sonny's, Brian Wegman and Bryson Baker were their major pickups and they filled out the roster with some of southern Cal's finest but ended up playing FBI in their first game Sunday and never recovered from a big deficit in the first inning.

 LF Brian Wegman
MI Bryson Baker
C  Denny Crine
1B Chris Greinart
3B Jason Stephenson
CF Nick Robertson
RF Dan Bean
EH Jason Krieder
P  Robert Sena
SS Jr Robledo
Jay Hill
2B Frankie Deaver

Manager Tony Verdugo

Bryson Baker was holding down the middle for Racks Gentlemans Club


I'm guessing with that grin that Greiner's going middle

The biggest (Denny Crine) and smallest player in the Toys tourny

Rack's 2B Frankie Deaver

Rack's 3B Jason Stephenson

 


Tied 5th Place Pitbulls  GTGG 

 3-1 Record


Pitbulls were my pick to win it and they had the talent and chemistry to do it with Danny Lopez on the mount, some speedy youths, and some veteran sticks.  But in the end they had a bad 7th inning against TYJA in a game they led most of the way and in the single elimination part of the tournament that was all it took to send them home…

Players for the Pitbulls

Stuey Lopez
Eliseo Aguilar
Chente Granados
Johnny Bailey
Cal Ford
Mario Granados
Johnny Gallegos
Aaron Martinez
Rego Nieto
Jusin Mangini
Joey Sandoval
Danny Lopez

 

Chente Granados put the Pitbulls together and were my pick to win

Pitbulls outfielder Mario Granados

Pit Bulls 3B Rego Nieto will flash the leather in the Conference this year with West Coast Doerflinger

Middle Infielder Aaron Martinez entertains the large crowd with a nice play

The Pitbulls scored so many runs that the bat boy had a blister


 

 More pictures of the tournament down below (keep scrolling)


 

alt

 

Link to all the pictures for the Toys 4 Tots

  


A big thanks to my sponsor's – USSSA, Down2EarthSports.com, GameTimeSupply.com, MojoSportsGear.com, TPS, Easton, DSSBats.com, SoftballToday Magazine, BatReviews.com, BPAthletics, TripleSSSinc.com, QWExpress.com, and DirtySportswear.com

A special thanks to Josh Olson, Mario Granados Sr, and Dennis Rulli for making my trip to cover the Toys 4 Tots tournament possible.

Also don't forget to click the "like" or "share" on facebook buttons for any articles you particularly enjoyed.  Thanks.

Here are some other pics from the Toys 4 Tots Tournament:


Nitro Demarini and Blaze started the tournament off with a back and forth 26-23 game with Nitro winning. 

The left side of the Avon infield

Classic Glass


The shortstop for Anytime kept them in the game til the end against TYJA/Reebok


Anaheim Swats has a nice team


 

Pitbulls second baseman blocks the bag with his foot to record the out!

 Dave I'll hit you up soon for that video

Tony V brought in a DJ to add to the show
 

Doc and Tony provided some great consistency and a Conference feel to the open bracket and did 15+ games each!


Stiffler!

 

Its all good with DW when there is Palm Trees in view


Tournament director Dennis Rulli did it all including some pitching for TYJA/Reebok (above) and the tournament brackets at 2 AM in the morning Saturday night (below)

 

 

Jager Bombs won the 22 team Mixed 'C' Division

DTeam GBS finished 2nd in the Mixed 'C' Division

Sweet shoes

Someone is trying to unload those Resmondo charity jerseys

No interviews from these two…

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Whoever sat in this chair went to sleep

As always send question, corrections, comments, and criticism's to

DW@softballcenter.com

Have a HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Some of the Pool Play scores from Saturday


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