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Teams Battle Heat Wave at 2019 Bert Bennett Memorial
July 1, 2019
By Tim McElroy
WESTMINSTER, MD - The Bert Bennett Memorial tournament was established a year ago to honor a local player that exuded all that was good with the sport. While cancer ultimately took Bert’s life, many players in the area knew him and speak fondly of him today.
His family was on hand again this year and asked that I share their sincere thanks to all who supported the tournament.
Twenty-eight teams from eight states arrived here July 19 - 21. Mother Nature was waiting for them with temperatures above 100 degrees each day. With plenty of water and trained staff on site, the tournament directors and parks department were up to the challenge of keeping everyone safe.
Friday play began in the 60 Major and 60 / 65 Gold division with teams playing mixed-pool games before advancing to separate best of three series. In the 60 Major championship game, Sweet Construction plated 11 runs in the bottom of the 7th inning to force an if necessary game. Olympian Athletic was able to hold Sweet off in the finale by securing a 24-21 win.
In the 60 / 65 Gold division, Pill & Pill (WV) rallied in the late innings to tie the game vs Chesapeake before knocking them off (15-14) in extra innings. On the verge of being swept, Chesapeake scored 8 runs in the open inning en route to a 21-18 victory. Chesapeake kept the sticks alive in the if necessary game, walking away with a 25-20 victory.
The Nationals (VA) got off to a slow start in pool play, but ramped it up in the bracket with wins over Gaithersburg Rental and High Street Bucs (twice) to bring home the 55 Major title.
In the three team 50 Major bracket, Team WV, RV Carey / Walk-off and Noble’s Paint / Dudley played a series of one-run games. Three of the final four games came down to the final at bat. The championship game was no different as Noble’s Painting scored 5 runs in their final at-bat to eliminate RV Carey / Walk-off. Final score 26-25.
The Men’s 50 AAA division featured five teams with Saturday play taking place at Salt Box park. The High Street Bucs began their weekend with an 11-10 loss. From that point forward they rattled off four consecutive wins behind solid pitching by Jason Faulkner to bring home the title. On the other side of the draw, Old Skool knocked out the PA Senior Hitmen in their final at bat before Live! Casino did the same to them. In the championship game, High Street Bucs outscored Live! Casino 17-12.
Martino’s Roofing (NJ) is playing their first season of 40s ball but showed this weekend that they are figuring it out. They entered the bracket as the No. 3 seed and reeled off three straight including a 16-14 win over top seeded Lost Boys / Spirit’s West to reach the championship game. Always tough, Lost Boys fought back to the championship game and avenged the earlier loss to Martino’s forcing the if game. Playing their fourth straight game in 100 degree temps was just too much for Lost Boys as Martino’s Roofing held on for the 25-18 win.
In the 40 AAA division, Mission: Possible was in control all weekend long. The team went unbeaten in pool play, then went undefeated in the bracket to take home their first title of the season. Live Casino finished second and Y’All Next finished third. Special thanks go out to the Mission: Possible team for donating their tournament awards to the Bennett family.
The Women’s division was a regional championship of sorts with teams from MA, MI, NJ and VA. The tournament was even as each team notched a win at some point during the tournament. In the end, Magic Stuff (MA) held off Bustagut (NJ) and won the Bert Bennett Memorial for the second consecutive season.
Magic Stuff (MA) - Women's Champion
In the above photo, you’ll notice a pair of cleats in the front row. Those cleats belong to their friend and teammate Kelly Wolner. Just three days after the tournament, Kelly lost her battle with cancer. We send our prayers and support to her family, her friends and her teammates.
At times like this, I remind people why we say that senior softball is “more than just a game…”