The Arizona Avengers 14U (pictured above) completed an impressive showing yesterday at the USSSA Thanksgiving Shootout Global NIT by defeating 14-AAA DeMarini Sandlot 11-3 in the championship game. This was the Avengers’ first USSSA tournament title of the fall ball season in three tries. Manager and ex-Major Leaguer Corey Hart’s team is now 7-2 overall, including 2-1 In Class.
The Global World Series Qualifier attracted 71 total teams from the Metro Phoenix area across 12 different divisions. The 14-Open field consisted of eight teams, all from Arizona. Three of which entered the weekend with Major classifications – the Avengers, Dirtbags Black and All9 Baseball, the rest grouped in ‘AAA.’
The format of this tournament was a little different than the norm at USSSA-sanctioned events. Instead of a guaranteed two-game pool play schedule then single elimination bracket, each squad played three pool games. The next step was a 3-team Major playoff to determine a champion.
The Avengers began its schedule versus the DevilBacks- Black. They easily routed the AAA team 13-2 behind four innings from starting pitcher Matthew Hart and one frame from Thomas Chiappetti. The next contest was a nail biter against All9 Baseball from Chandler, Arizona. The Avengers were able to scratch out a close 8-7 victory over the previously 1-0 All9. Hart had to use three pitchers to get through this game with a victory and remain unbeaten: Jacob Heppner for three innings, Bryce Stanton for 2 IP and Connor Mattison for 1 IP.
The final “pool” game for the Avengers came against Wrecking Crew Baseball Club (AAA). The Wrecking Crew was 1-1 at the time of this game, but wouldn’t have enough firepower to challenge the boys from Litchfield Park. The Avengers won 9-2 thanks to two innings apiece from Isaiah Dorantes, Mason Watson and Chiappetti.
The Avengers earned the top overall seed in the single elimination Majors bracket because the other two Major teams were 2-1 as All9 lost to the Avengers and the Dirtbags dropped a game to DeMarini Sandlot. As a result, the Avengers were pushed through to the title game and the Dirtbags Black as well as the AAA DeMarini Sandlot earned spots in the bracket based on their 2-1 records and low average runs allowed total.
In the de facto semi-final game, 14AAA DeMarini Sandlot upset the Dirtbags 6-5 to face the Avengers in the title game yesterday. This didn’t turn out to be a close game as the underdogs lost 11-3, but still had a solid tournament showing.
After two third-place finishes last month in USSSA tournaments, the Avengers finally broke through at a Global World Series Qualifier. They outscored opponents this past weekend 41-14 overall and averaged over 10 runs scored per game.
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