The Arizona Fire 12U from Tempe ripped through the competition this past weekend at the USSSA Fall State Championships. They went 5-0 and outscored teams 46-17 overall throughout the two-day event to win its second tournament title this fall ball season. Manager John Grier’s team now has a 13-2-1 record, including a strong 10-2-1 mark In Class.
Despite there being a lean field of seven teams in this 12-Major division, there were 117 total squads that competed in this level two state event. Each team played two pool games then was seeded one through seven based on overall record and average runs allowed. Every team advanced to the Majors bracket which was single-elimination and yielded a champion come Sunday evening.
The Arizona Fire started its schedule by thumping the Desert Bandits 10-1. Karter Samprone started on the mound for the winning team and pitched three solid innings before handing the ball to Dallas Hairston for the final frame. The next game was more of the same versus the Warriors BBA from Glendale. The Fire smothered them in their first game of the weekend, 13-2. Grier utilized three pitchers to navigate this comfortable victory, Tanner Hermesch and Carson Grier for 2 innings each and JJ Palmer for one.
The Fire went home for the day resting comfortably knowing they would be given a high seed. In fact, they would claim the No.2 spot, only behind the lone AAA team in the field, Ahwatukee Beast who carried a slightly better average runs allowed metric (1 vs. 1.5). Recognition should also go to the Scottsdale Dirtbags 12U Gray for going 2-0 during pool play.
Unfortunately for the Fire’s sake, they had to play in the first round of elimination competition as only the Beast (top seed) earned a bye. They would however take on the same opponent as the last game, the Warriors BBA and this time it was a closer game. The final was 8-4 and while Grier again pitched two innings, his father used two new arms to keep the Warrior bats at bay – Dallas Hairston (3 IP) and Karter Samprone (2 IP).
In the semis, the Fire took on the Desert Bandits again whom they played in the first pool game. The Bandits were fresh off a victory over the aforementioned Dirtbags, 11-9. This matchup would go much like the first, with the Fire winning by multiple runs, 7-3. Tanner Hermesch started and went four innings before teammates Samprone, Grier and Hairston all toed the rubber.
In the championship game the Fire took on an unexpected opponent, the Cave Creek Coyotes who lost one of their pool games and was given the fourth seed. In bracket play they took down the AZ Venom and top-seeded Beast for a chance at the crown. They would fall just short however, losing a tough 8-7 decision to the Fire who now has the No.1 ranking in the state in both USSSA points and power ranking.
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