WEST CHESTER >> Despite the 2014 Softball Charity Challenge attracting its second largest— and arguably toughest — field in its history, TMS Combat, from the Kennett Men’s Slow Pitch league, ran through the 32-team bracket without a loss Sunday at the West Chester Area Sports Association Complex.
With a come-from-behind, 14-13 victory over Dolan’s Bar from Ridley Park in the championship finals, TMS won the Greenday Trophy, named for the late Daily Local News Sports Editor Greg Greenday, finishing the tournament with a 4-0 mark.
“We just wanted to come here and have a good time,” said TMS coach Rob Jackson. “We’ve played in this tournament for years. It’s well run, and for a great cause in raising awareness for prostate cancer. And the competition is fantastic. But we played well all weekend, and it’s great to finally win it this year.”
One team, West Chester’s The Tribe, while they fell short of a championship, did more than their share with the “charity” part of the challenge. With several players affected by cancer on a personal level, The Tribe decided that they would add to the kitty with a donation from every player who made an out, more if the player hit into a double play.
“We had a little fun with our team,” said Tribe coach Ronnie Kummerer. “We donated a dollar for every out, and five dollars for a double play. This is our first time back in this tournament in a couple of years, so we just wanted to help out the cause even more. I’ve recently lost a grandfather.”
The Tribe reached the semifinals before dropping two straight games on Sunday morning. They finished with a 3-2 record, including a win over recent Amateur Softball Association Class D state titleist, Chickie and Pete’s.
“We played a good tournament, but we just didn’t have it today,” said Kummerer.
TMS reached the finals after topping last year’s champs, Jack Cassidy’s Irish Pub, 5-3, in the winner’s bracket final. A three-run third inning fueled the victory, sparked by key hits from Mike LeFever and Dylan Green. The loss dropped Jack Cassidy’s into the loser’s bracket final to square off in a rematch of the championship semifinals against Dolan’s Bar.
Jack Cassidy won the first game against Dolan’s by mercy rule, but Dolan’s turned the tables in the rematch, notching nine runs in the top of the first and cruised to a 13-3 victory in five innings.
In the final, TMS trailed in the third inning, but erupted for nine runs, highlighted by a grand slam for tournament MVP Cory Cordell, who also had a double in the inning. All 11 hitters in the TMS batting order recorded a hit, a run or an RBI in the inning, including triples from Green and AJ Doria and a double from Albie Soto.
“I knew we needed to put some runs on the board,” said Cordell. “I just needed to be more patient at the plate. Once we got those runs, I knew the team would be right behind me. We win or lose as a team.”
But Dolan’s answered back with six runs of itsr own in the top of the fourth, highlighted by a home run from Bobby Pace, who went yard twice in the game. Dolan’s kept chipping away before grabbing a 13-11 lead with three runs in the top of the seventh, keyed by a double from Matt Ross and a two-RBI single from Rob Sladek.
Undaunted, TMS pushed across three in its half to capture the championship. Consecutive singles from Shawn Ray, Renard Childs and Cordell broght in a run to make it 13-12. Green then doubled in the gap in left-center to bring in Childs with the tying run, but Cordell was thrown out at home to keep the game going.
The respite for Dolan’s was tempoary as Sam Baker singled up the middle to bring in Green with the title-clinching run.
“This was one of the best, most competitive tournaments we’ve had,” said ASA of Pennsylvania district commissioner and tournament organizer Joe Organek. “The field was really strong, and we raised over $6,200 for prostate cancer. We had great weather all weekend, and everyone seemed to have a good time.”