Two weeks ago, my son’s baseball team, the Northland Storm, participated in the USSSA 12U AA World Series. This is the final tournament for his age group and ability level. (USSSA defines ability levels as major, AAA, and AA). It included 62 teams from about 10 different states. We were fortunate that the tournament was held in Lenexa, very close to our home.
The tournament coincided with the terribly heat wave that hit our area and most of the country. The first day of the tournament, we played two games; one at noon and one at 9:30PM, and we won them both. The next day, we played at 5:00PM. Since we were playing just one game at a time, the heat wasn’t really an issue.
We played well enough in those first three games to earn a 7 seed in the bracket portion of the tournament. The first day of bracket play required two wins; a loss and you go home. We won the first game in the morning, and won by forfeit that evening. Those wins put the team into the final 8. The final 8 portion of the bracket was double elimination.
It’s a good thing it was, because we lost our first game of the final 8. We came back and won our next two games, earning us a spot in the final four.
It all came down to Championship Sunday. The final four teams played for the World Series Championship. Since we were coming from having lost a game, we had to win four games in a row Sunday. The weather was forecasted to be over 100 degrees and very humid.
We began with an 8:00AM game and won, setting up a rematch with the team that had beaten us earlier in the tournament. We played much better this time, beating them 6-0.
That left two teams. The other team hadn’t lost, so we would have to beat them twice to win the entire tournament. By this time, it was 12:30 and the heat was building. We didn’t have much time between games to let the boys cool down, but they were excited to have done this well and were anxious to win another two games.
We started our third game of the day against the undefeated team. The game was tight, but well played through the first couple of innings. By the fourth inning, our bats started going and we had jumped out to a 6-4 lead. Unfortunately, the heat began to take its toll.
We had two boys who came out of the game for dehydration. They were pulled aside, and eventually loaded into an ambulance and taken to the hospital. We had two or three more boys who were showing signs of trouble. The coaches and parents had a tough decision to make.
We still had nine players and only two innings left in the game. If we could somehow make it through the game and hopefully get some time to rest and cool off, we could maybe play one more. But at what risk?
Everybody decided that the health of the boys was more important. Leading 6-4 in the fourth inning, we forfeited.
We were so proud just to be playing for the championship. To take second place was a fantastic achievement.
All of the boys recovered quickly once they cooled off and got some fluids in them. We accepted our “Runner Up” trophies with dignity and went home to rest.
It was a great tournament and one that we will not soon forget.