Berea Blue Sox

RECAP

by Jack Butler  jbutle58@lakers.mercyhurst.edu

Battle Creek, Michigan – After 30 games were played between 16 teams from eight different states across the Midwest and Eastern United States, only two remained; Berea Blue Sox from Ohio and Buffalo Diesel from New York.

The Blue Sox and Diesel both went 2-1 in Pool A play earning the right to play in the Quarterfinals on Saturday.   Berea narrowly edged past the Beecher Muskies 6-5 while Buffalo blew out the South Bend Royals 13-1.

In the Semifinals, Buffalo’s high scoring offense continued as 22 runners touched home plate in their 22-2 victory over North Jersey Sox.  Berea out matched the Lombard Orioles 9-4 in the other Semifinal.  Two days prior, Diesel faced the Blue Sox in pool play where spectators saw Berea prevail 8-4. Buffalo sought revenge in the rematch in the Championship but fell short by eight runs during their 16-8 loss to Berea despite jumping to a 6-0 lead.

Buffalo Diesel started the scoring when they scored three in the first inning. Jacob Victor led off the frame with a single and Dawson Bailey followed it up by hitting a double. With runners on second and third and nobody out, Matt Wiettispach laced a two run double to right center. Neal Demartin hit into an RBI ground out sending Wiettispach to cross the plate making it a 3-0 lead. Buffalo starting pitcher Zach Jordan allowed a single with two outs in the second but managed to escape without Berea getting back into the game.

In the bottom half, Diesel added three more tallies doubling their advantage to six. Two of them were on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Matt Wiettispach and Nick Jasinki. Buffalo would not score another run until the eighth inning as the Blue Sox scored 14 unanswered runs.

The Blue Sox rally started in the third when Bryan Miller ripped a single and Zac Johnson smoked a ball to dead center for a two-run shot. Berea’s bullpen kept them in the game as Manager Brendan Krowka’s relievers tossed scoreless innings from the third to fourth frames.

In the fifth, Berea third baseman Steve Ross hit a two-out RBI double cutting the deficit in half to 6-3. The Blue Sox bullpen continued throwing zeros in fifth and sixth and took the lead with four runs in the seventh.  It all started with back-to-back hits by Miller and Zac Johnson and then a walk to Jake Plata.  Alex Johnson cleared the bases with a double that hit off the wall making it a tie game. Johnson scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch and from that point on the Blue Sox never looked back.

After throwing another scoreless frame in bottom of the seventh, Berea made this close 7-6 game into a 14-6 blowout in the blink of an eye with 7 more Blue Sox runs. Berea just needed three more outs to close out the Championship due to the run rule, but Buffalo Diesel had other ideas.  With two outs, Victor singled to keep them alive, and Bailey drilled a two-run homer making sure they play another inning.

Berea got those two runs right back on consecutive sacrifice flies by Alex Johnson and Steve Ross making it a 16-8 in the ninth. The Blue Sox were set to face the 5, 6, 7 hitters of the Diesel lineup in the bottom of the ninth. They made quick work of Mike Wagner and Demartin, but Mark DiLeo singled to keep the inning going. Berea regrouped to get Diesel catcher Tom Lacongo to ground out to pitcher making the Berea Blue Sox the 2021 NABF Charles Blackburn Major Division World Series Champions.
The Blue Sox began to celebrate right around the mound, jumping into a dog pile as they completed the 6-0 comeback against Buffalo Diesel by scoring 14 unanswered runs. Berea has now won back to-back NABF Championships dating back to 2019 since no tournament was played in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They hope to defend their title in 2022 in next year’s NABF World Series.

MAJOR DIVISION ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

Position Player Name Team Name
All-Tournament Team Manager
Catcher Marty Coyle Beecher Muskies
Catcher Justin Ramos New Jersey Sox
1B Zac Johnson Berea Blue Sox
1B Owen Jackson Beecher Muskies
2B Mark DeLeo Buffalo Battistoni Diesel
2B Ian Sanders Beecher Muskies
3B Steve Ross Berea Blue Sox
3B Neal DeMartin Buffalo Battistoni Diesel
SS Jose Garcia New Jersey Sox
SS Mike Wagnes Buffalo Battistoni Diesel
OF Andy Gayton Lombard Orioles
OF Alex Johnson Berea Blue Sox
OF Andrew Oleszewski Beecher Muskies
OF Jacob Victor Buffalo Battistoni Diesel
OF Dawson Bailey Buffalo Battistoni Diesel
OF Jake Plata Berea Blue Sox
OF Matt Wietlspasch Buffalo Battistoni Diesel
Utility Roddy McNeal Manistee Saints
Utility Ty Morgan Garden State Surge
DH Lucas Weimert Manistee Saints
Pitcher Andrew Bergman Lombard Orioles
Pitcher Michael Herringshaw Berea Blue Sox
Pitcher Amilcar Cruz New Jersey Sox
Pitcher Bryce Shafer Beecher Muskies
Pitcher Jason Castillo Garden State Surge
Pitcher Domanick Michael Mahoning Valley
Pitcher Stephan Styck Beecher Muskies