That’s a wrap for the 2015 AAU International Men’s Fastpitch Championship! Twenty-five teams traveled from seven different countries to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, FL for this annual international tournament. One of the Venezuelan teams were forced to drop out at the last minute, leaving 24 teams to split into five different pools. Because of the late drop-out, they were forced to forfeit all of their games, giving each team in their pool one 3-0 victory.
In Pool A, Venezolanos, the defending AAU Fastpitch Champions, earned the top seed with a 4-0 undefeated record in their pool. Maccabi USA finished in second with a record of 3-1 and the other three teams all had a 1-3 pool play record.
In Pool B, the New York Gremlins, Equipo Sopotociento and Kanata Storm all finished with a 3-1 pool play record, with Gremlins grabbing the higher seed. Universidad de Nacional de la Mantaza and Lake Simcoe Lightning both ended pool play with 1-3 records.
In Pool C, the A1 Bombers went undefeated and secured the #1 seed going into bracket play. Universidad de Zulia went .500 in pool play with two wins and two losses. The Toronto Batmen and CPI Classics tied in one of their games, so their records were slightly different. Batmen ended with 1.5-2.5 and CPI had a 2.5-1.5 record. Puerto Rico Maviceros rounded out their pool with a 0-4 record.
In Pool D, Nacionale de Venezuela had dropped out the competition before the tournament started, so each team began pool play with one win. The Hill United Chiefs grabbed three more wins in pool play, earning them the #3 in bracket play. Team Marquez only lost one game in bracket play, which was against the Hill United Chiefs, earning the second place in their pool and the #5 seed going into bracket play. The Bar’s NAFA Selects broke even in pool play with a 2-2 record and Big Eagle Express lost all their games they played, finished with a 1-3 record.
In the final pool, Pool E, Maracaibo dominated the pool, winning all four games and earning the #2 seed in bracket play. NY/PA Buffalo Big John’s followed closely with a 3-1 record, Ottawa for tickets split with two wins and two losses and the Relics of Sudsbury won a game and lost three. Finishing at the bottom of the pool, Bryan’s Blackhawks lost all of their games.
On Saturday morning, we had a slight rain delay in the morning, but the Florida sunshine managed to break through and we had yet another gorgeous day to play ball. The top seven teams all received byes and were able to sleep in and relax a bit until their first game of the day. In the first round of eliminations, we lost eight teams: The Relics of Sudsbury, who forfeited after not showing up on time for the game, Universidad de la Mantaza, Lake Simcoe Lightning, Big Eagle Express, AuSable Spirits, who almost pulled off a win against the Toronto Batmen but ultimately fell to them, 2-1, Puerto Rico Maviceros and Bryan’s Blackhawks. The only big upset in the first round was between Universidad de Zulia (#14) and Toronto Blue Ribbon (#19). Toronto managed to put up 6 points against the higher seed, and the Venezuelan team could only manage to score 3.
On Saturday afternoon, the second round of eliminations kicked off, with the A1 Bombers vs the Triple A Razorbacks and Equipo Sopotociento vs Maccabi USA. The A1 Bombers easily took the win over Triple A Reazorbacks, 8-1, while on the field next to them, the #9 team, Equipo Sopotociento got a surprising victory over a strong Maccabi USA team, 5-0. A1 Bombers and Equipo Sopotociento were both done for the day and advanced to the quarterfinals the next morning. However, we still had more ball to play at the complex. Immediately after those two games, three more games started. Team Marquez glided to a 7-1 victory of the #12 Ottawa Broker4Tickets. The #2 seeded Maracaibo team had a difficult time with the #15 Toronto Batmen, but ultimately squeezed out a 2-1 win to advance to the quarterfinals on Sunday morning. The #10 ranked Kanata Storm, fresh off their 7-1 victory over Puerto Rico Maviceros, grabbed another 7-1 win, this time over the #7 team, NY/PA Buffalo Big John’s. To finish off the games on Saturday, we had the Hill United Chiefs easily put away the Toronto Blue Ribbon, 7-0. The New York Gremlins also took home an easy win over the CPI Classics, 7-0. And in the biggest upset of the day, and maybe even the tournament, The Bar’s NAFA Selects (#13) defeated the defending champions and #4 seeded team, Venezolanos, in a close game, 4-3.
On the final day, eight teams played bright and early in the quarterfinals. The Bar’s NAFA Selects seemed to lose their good fortune, dropping to Team Marquez 14-1 in the fourth, when the mercy rule came into effect. Maracaibo and Kanata Storm battled it out on the next field, with the score at 7-5 in Maracaibo’s favor when the game ended. The last two morning games were nail-biters for everyone watching, both decided by one run. The #1 seeded A1 Bombers were shut out by Equipo Sopociento 1-0 and the Hill United Chiefs faced the New York Gremlins, the toughest competition of the tournament, where the Chiefs scraped by with a 2-1 win. The semifinals were two totally different ballgames. The Hill United Chiefs dominated the game over Maracaibo, getting the 14-0 win after the mercy rule came into effect in the fourth inning. The Hill United Chiefs were able to relax for a bit until the championship game. Most of the Chiefs’ players wandered over to the next field to see who would be playing, where they found yet another nail-biter happening. Team Marquez and Equipo Sopotociento were battling it out, with both teams scoring all of their runs in the first inning. The other six were a complete pitchers’ duel. At the end of the game, Team Marquez earned the spot in the championship after earning the hard-fought 2-1 win.
At 1PM, the complex was full of teams that had competed earlier in the tournament and fans to watch the championship game between the undefeated Hill United Chiefs and Team Marquez. Both teams had faced each other before, in the first day of pool play, with Hill United grabbing 4-1 victory. Hill United put their best pitcher on the mound, Fulkard and Team Marquez gave the ball to Mancha. Both teams put up one run in the first, leaving the score knotted up going into the second. Hill United broke the game open in the top of the second, putting three more runs on the board. After the top of the sixth, the Chiefs had tacked on four more runs, giving them the 8-1 lead. Team Marquez tried to rally in the bottom of the sixth by loading the bases, but Hill United got a strikeout to end the inning and the game.
In a ceremony after the game, both teams were given their trophies and medals. Hill United’s pitcher, Adam Fulkard was awarded the Most Outstanding Pitcher Award and the MVP was Jeff Ellsworth.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this tournament! We hope to see you again next year!
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