The 2008 First Pitch Invitational men's softball tournament was held April 25-28 at the Oxford Athletic Association Complex in Oxford, PA. The tournament kicked off on Friday night with a high-scoring barn-burner and ended Sunday afternoon with two New York teams squaring off for tournament and state bragging rights. The games in between were filled with quality modified-pitch softball action from all 10 participating teams.Mason-Dixon League teams, Silvestri's Cleaning and Mad-dogs got the tournament off to a flying start in the opening game as Maddogs jumped out to a 14-0 lead after a hitting barrage in the 1st inning. Tournament hosts, Silvestri's Cleaning never folded their tents and began to chip away at the lead. Silvestri's pitcher Drew Herb settled in after the rocky first inning and pitched a very good game as Silvestri's clawed their way back for a very hard fought 21-20 victory. Other Friday night action saw Elanco League teams take care of their Mason-Dixon League counterparts as Marlin's defeated Oxford Athletics 3-1 and Strasburg held off Wyncote Golf Club 10-7.
Saturday's action was fast and furious throughout the day and highlighted by tournament favorite Adco/Henick-Lane, from Staten Island, NY, cruising to a 4-0 record in round-robin play. Staten Island based Sharkey's also fought their way to a 4-0 record through round-robin play as both teams earned No. 1 seeds in Sunday's single-elimination round.
Local teams all took different routes in their attempts to qualify for Sunday. Wyncote Golf Club dropped their first game on Saturday to Adco to fall to 0-2 but rebounded with wins over Marlins and Oxford Athletics to qualify as the No. 2 seed from the National Division. Strasburg's Marlins, a Lancaster County team, also fought to a 2-2 record and earned the No. 3 seed from the National Division. Elanco League powerhouse, Strasburg was left out of Sunday's action despite a 2-2 record based on the tournament's runs allowed tiebreaker.
The American Division played out in similar fashion with Elanco League's Ground Zero and Young Ones and Mason-Dixon League's Silvestri's Cleaning all defeating each other on their way to 2-2 records. A 7-6 victory over rival Ground Zero on Saturday night wasn't enough to help Silvestri's as Friday night's 21-20 game with Mad-dogs came back to haunt them and they became the odd team out based on runs allowed.
Sunday's single-elimination round was just as action-packed as Wyncote Golf Club defeated Young Ones 7-3 behind excellent pitching from Chris Grasty and Ground Zero fell to Elanco League foe Marlins 9-8 in an extra-innings battle. The semifinal round saw both No. 1 seeds hold suite as Sharkeys defeated Marlin's 12-2 and Adco defeated Wyncote Golf Club 10-2 to setup an all New York championship final. These 2 teams were no strangers to one another, having played each other countless times in league play and tournament action but Adco proved to be the better team this time around behind strong pitching from John Jones and timely hitting throughout their very potent line-up.
Sharkeys ace pitcher Rodney Degroat pitched well but Sharkey's bats just couldn't solve the excellent pitching from Jones and Adco/Henick-Lane took the First Pitch Tournament Championship with an 8-0 win.
Silvestri's Softball would like to thank all teams that participated and all fans that came out throughout the weekend to enjoy some great modified-pitch softball action. Next year's First Pitch Invitational hopes to be as big of a success as this year's tournament. "We look forward to seeing everyone next year," said Greg Melrath, tournament organizer.