Fireworks at the Santee Sportsplex
Tournament director Brandon St. Aubin calculating playoff seeding.
The 2nd Annual SoCal Lockdown tournament was once again held at the beautiful Santee Sportsplex in San Diego County, California. 2011 West Conference Manager of the Year Brandon St. Aubin and his SoCal Lockdown team played host to the event and there couldn’t have been better softball conditions in Southern California. Although the tournament did not draw a high number of teams, there was no shortage of quality teams as 9 of the West Conference’s top 25 ranked teams participated. Among those were the top 3 ranked teams: 1. SoCal Alliance, 2. Sin City Combo, & 3. DEA Combo so there was plenty of firepower and with a whopping 10 (TEN) home run limit, there were fireworks to go along with that firepower. Other teams in the mix were the host SoCal Lockdown, Team Vargas, Border Patrol Arsenal, SoCal Dawgs, SoCal War Pigs, and Nitro2Go Hitmen
The tournament followed what has become a fairly standardized format for police softball, 2 round robin games followed by the double elimination playoffs. There were no shockers in the round robin as SoCal Alliance, Sin City and SoCal Lockdown won their divisions. There were however some shockers in the playoffs, but we will get to that later. Border Patrol Arsenal pitcher, Gabe Lara, won the home run derby during the lunch intermission.
Since it was a small tournament, division winners had to match up early in the playoffs. Sin City always matches up well against the SoCal Alliance and their offense was relentless as they sent SoCal into the loser bracket early. Sin City then suffered a scare at the hands of one many consider one of the most underrated teams in the West Conference, Border Patrol Arsenal. Arsenal’s pitcher Gabe Lara has extensive high level civilian ball experience and he is one of the more deceptive pitchers in police softball. He managed to keep Sin City at bay and give his team a shot at a major upset. But, good teams find ways to win and in the bottom of the 7th, Sin City worked their magic with a walk off base hit to win it.
In the other half of the bracket one of the Gold Division powerhouses SoCal War Pigs posted a huge upset victory over the DEA Combo and followed that with another upset win against SoCal Lockdown to advance to the undefeated game. The War Pigs had momentum on their side and had far and away the largest and most vocal fan base. The War Pigs went toe to toe with Sin City but left the tying run at the plate in the last inning. With the win Sin City advanced to the championship game and would need to be double dipped by any team coming out of the loser’s bracket. Sin City was able to catch a well deserved break for a few hours while the remaining teams were left behind eliminating one another.
The War Pigs patiently waited to see who would emerge from the loser’s bracket to face them. Keep in mind, the War Pigs are accustomed to winning tournaments but up until this point, they were winning them in the Gold Division. This was an open format which meant the War Pigs were now doing what they do best, but they were doing it against the Majors teams. They watched on as the SoCal Alliance systematically eliminated their opponents game after game. SoCal was going into their 7th game with only one short break in between but their resiliency has been proven time and time again though the years. Although the War Pigs had the momentum they couldn’t overcome the big bats and lock down defense of the Alliance.
The championship game pitted friendly rivals Sin City Combo against the SoCal Alliance once again. There are no two teams on the circuit that face off every year as often as these two teams do. It was interesting seeing all the defensive shifts, pitching sequences and other strategies that go hand in hand with knowing the tendencies of an opponent so thoroughly. In game one the Alliance hit like a team possessed to even up the tournament at 1 and 1 against Sin City. The “IF” game, which was essentially SoCal's 9th game in a 10 hour period, looked like it was going to be a 180 from the previous game as Sin City dropped 9 runs on the Alliance in the first inning and it took SoCal 3 innings before they finally showed signs of life. SoCal managed to keep Sin City from posting any big innings and that kept the game close enough to allow the SoCal bats to heat up. SoCal posted a couple really big innings back to back and that allowed them to separate from Sin City and claim the victory. It was a bench mark win for the Alliance as it was their 40th tournament title since the advent of the policesoftball.com website in 2005. This tournament was also a bench mark for the SoCal War Pigs as they proved they could hang with (and beat) any team in the circuit. Sin City played great softball all day and making it to yet another championship game further bolstered their reputation as being one of the top teams in the entire nation.
Many players commended tournament director Brandon St. Aubin on hosting a well run, seamless tournament and several commented about their desire to return to the venue again next year.
So Cal War Pigs
1. Rob Ramos, provided veteran leadership and was clutch throughout the tournament.
2. Andrew Yanez, played great defense in the outfield and got key hits in critical situations.
Sin City Combo
1. George DeSantiago, did ot make an out in the first 4 games and registered the walk off hit to defeat Arsenal
2. Eric Leavitt, hit lasers all over the field and seemed to always be on base
3. Ron Connor, batted leadoff and surgically picked apart defenses by hitting holes, gaps and home runs. Also played gold glove defense in the outfield.
*Tournament MVP Mike Snyder, posted a .846 OBP, ran the bases like a deer and played locked down defense in right field.
1. Eric Harryman, .795 OBP, played stellar defense at shortstop like always.
2. Mitch Brouillette, .686 OPB, timely monster home runs and made highlight catches in center field.
3. Jeff Blair, posted .742 OBP, did his job to roll the line-up back to the top every chance he could.