24 Aug 9th Annual Vermont Summer Classic Sets New Marks!
Well folks, the 9th Annual Vermont Summer Classic WIFFLE Ball Tournament is in the books! 208 players on eighteen teams played 47 games as hundreds of fans and supporters were entertained to one of the most competitive Vermont Summer Classics yet! Players and fans came from various parts of the Northeast and as far south as Florida. The Banting Bombers, led by their team captain Mitch Lumley, drove from London, Ontario (outside of Toronto) to be the first Canadian team to play at Little Fenway, and the first time the Canadian national Anthem was sung there. Mitch, next year we’ll fly the flag for Opening Ceremonies! Everyone came to help broaden awareness about T1D (Type 1 diabetes), support T1Ders attending the tournament and to help SLAMT1D advocate, educate and support camps for kids with T1D, including the Vermont Overnight Camp. Teams together with sponsors raised $130,000, smashing the previous mark by nearly $30,000!
Three new teams made immediate impacts as all of them qualified for the playoffs: the AWAA Kamikazees from Albany, NY (Champions of the NWLA US Wiffle Ball Tournament in Morenci, Michigan) drew the final Wild Card and #12 seed having slugged their way through the qualifying round with an onslaught of home runs, while the #7 seed Dugout Dawgs of Williamstown, VT and #6 seed Red, White & Brew of Ossipee, NH captured first-round playoff bids with gritty play and a bit of luck. In fact, they played each other in the first round, with Corey Knowles’ Dawgs grinding out an emotional victory for their first playoff win. The Kamikazees went 3-1 going into the playoffs with their only loss to former champ Grady’s Gang in a 12-7 slugfest. Later in the semifinals, their bats were neutralized by a stiff wind from center field and the pitching of Jared Antoniak as defending champ The Garage squeezed out a 2-0 victory.
The Broadview Bombers, who were once again led by veteran Mikey Pascento, sidekick Dillon Ash, and the team’s top fundraiser Johanna Kolok, grabbed the fifth seed in the playoffs by combining high fundraising points and key wins, including a walk-off W versus playoff contender One Hit Wonders. Despite 4-0 and 3-1 records in tournament play, two repeat champs missed the playoffs. Grady’s Gang, winners in 2014 and 2017, went 3-1 but were hamstrung by their late entry and fundraising total which lowered their PowerRanking. Same for the Green Monsters: Captained by previous MVP Dan French, the Green Monsters were one of the most potent teams in the tournament but didn’t accumulate enough fundraising bonus points to nab a playoff entry.
Steve Adams’ Da Bulls drew the first Wild Card and the #11 seed, but that meant facing the Breaking Ballers, who looked like they weren’t going to be denied this year after tough playoff losses in the previous two tournaments. Da Bulls plated three in the third after the Ballers posted eight runs in the first two innings. There would be no comeback by Da Bulls as the Ballers piled on another five runs in a 13-3 victory. Steve Adams’ post-game comments reflected the spirit exhibited amongst all the teams: “Hey, we played hard, had a blast and helped make a difference. We’ll be back!”
Team O’Day proved tough to score against throughout the tournament either because Hayden O’Day is the pitcher his sister Carly says he is or there was little space for balls to drop safely as five UVM and Saint Michael’s basketball players used their wingspans and athleticism to stifle opposing offenses. Citizen Cider bested the Banting Bombers in an early game in which the Bombers attributed their sluggish offense to the eleven hour car ride from Toronto. We’ll go with that. Citizen Cider was apple-mashed the rest of the weekend and the aforementioned car-drive malaise gripped the Bombers offense throughout the tournament.
Mike Abair’s Hallam-ICS returned after their inaugural season last year. A wild card team in their first year, the team struggled to plate runs throughout the tournament and missed the playoffs, but once again showed wonderful team energy and grit.
Then there was IBEW #300, the number #2 seed after tournament play due to the amazing fundraising support of the Millstone Foundation through Ed Charbonneau. While their on-field prowess…hold on: there wasn’t any “prowess” on the field, but there was a heap of spirited play, great humor (witness the roster names such as Q-Ball, Weiner Schnitzel and Dough Boy) and true sportsmanship. IBEW #300 surely brought a joy and fun to their games that made them a fan favorite throughout the weekend!
The Bat Attitudes made the playoffs after two nail-biters in the qualifying round. The Attitudes took a 5-2 lead into the 6th against the OT SLAMmers, only to see the SLAMmers rally to tie with three runs in the bottom half. Tied after an extra eighth inning, the teams went to a Home Run Derby, with the SLAMmers notching the win with two homers. Earlier in the day versus the One Hit Wonders, the Attitudes held a 2-1 lead as the Wonders came to the plate in the top of the 7th inning. Wonders’ Peter Miller jacked a two-out, 2-run homer off pitcher Tim Rahaim and the Attitudes stranded a base runner in the home half of the inning to seal their fate in a tough 3-2 loss.
Jeff Seward celebrated his return to Little Fenway with an OT SLAMmers team that included his son Bryan and several OpenTempo associates as they secured a first-round playoff game versus the 4th seeded Breaking Ballers. That’s as far as the SLAMmers would go. The Ballers plated three runs in the first on a Cody Benoit home run and then left it to ace pitcher Mark Burnett as he shut out the SLAMmers in a 4-0 first-round win.
The Middlebury Lions Striders expected their pride to roar, pounce and feast on the competition toward a second appearance in the championship game. Co-captains Paulie D and Jesse G told us they felt great about the lineup and were expecting big things again this year. Their optimism appeared justified after pummeling the Bat Attitudes, but a shutout loss to Grady’s Gang and another 8-4 crusher to The Garage in a repeat of last year’s championship game doomed them to the Wild Card draw, where Lady Luck looked away this year.
The Weekend Wifflers once again did their best to blind the opposition with their fluorescent, multi-colored uniforms. The 2013 champs claimed the 3rd seed in the playoffs after going 3-1 and raising $9,475. In the semifinals as nasty storm clouds rolled in, the Ballers sent the Wifflers packing with a solo homer by Jesse Haven in the top half of the final inning.
Defending champs and #1 seed The Garage won all four of their tournament games with expectations of a two-peat, while the Breaking Ballers also cruised 4-0 through the tournament round behind the play of Eli Ashley and Mark Burnett. The two teams met in the Championship Game at Little Fenway in what promised to be a great pitching duel between The Garage’s Jared Antoniak and Breaking Ballers’ Mark Burnett. The game got underway as black storm clouds amassed. After the Ballers 1-2-3 top half of the 1st, The Garage came to the plate just as the clouds around the fields unleashed a bolt of lightning and torrent of rain that caused Head Umpire Larry Riegert to immediately halt the game. Once in the garage that served as tournament HQ, and with no end to the storm in sight, the Breaking Ballers and The Garage were announced as co-champions for the 9th Annual Vermont Summer Classic!
Our deepest appreciation and many thanks go out to all the amazing volunteers who made the tournament go so smoothly, especially Dan Pion; to Lee Roy, Tim and Quinn Rose, Ron Rose and Travis for all their support and great logistics teamwork; to all of our sponsors whose financial generosity helps SLAMT1D carry out its mission to build community around those battling Type 1 diabetes; and to all of the fans, supporters and families who helped or put up with our players tireless fundraising efforts. To all the players: Amazing job! Congratulations! Thank you for your energy, diligence and selfless spirit as together we strive to make life better for those battling T1D! And of course, to all of the T1Ders whose lives we’ve touched or whom we’ve yet to meet…we do this all for you! Let’s have some fun and kick T1D’s ass!