Banana Sluggers strike again

Three years, three titles.

The White Lightning Wiffleball Tournament at Stodick Park last weekend produced the same champion that it has in each of its first two runs, but the rest of the field continued to get more competitive.

"It was a lot of fun," said tournament organizer J.P. Albert. "There were a couple of really close games."

The Banana Sluggers, which included brothers Brady, Jordan, Morgan and Austin Ovard along with Albert, clinched the title with a 5-1 win over the Bloodthirsty Vikings, a team that included recent Douglas High graduates Pat Lahlum, Michael Barnes and Brian Bernard.

"It seemed like everyone had a good time," Albert said. "Everyone said they were looking forward to coming back next year.

"The weather all weekend was perfect and the ball was really flying out of the yard."

Three fields were marked out with fences 80 feet away down each line and 100 feet to center.

The pitcher's circle was placed approximately 40 feet away from home plate and pitchers aimed for a rectangular strike plate behind home instead of a catcher's mitt.

Teams fielded four players at a time and players were not allowed to wear gloves or cleats.

The two-day event started Saturday with each of the eight teams getting three "interpool" games which did not count toward seeding on day two.

After getting the three opening games, teams played three more, this time against opponents within their own four-team pool.

All eight advanced to Sunday's double-elimination bracket, where seeding was based on performance during pool play.

"Everyone got to play at least eight games, so that was good," Albert said.

The Banana Sluggers were 6-0 on the first day, the Bloodthirsty Vikings were 5-1, the Cobras and the Twinkle Twinks each went 4-2, That One Team and the Plastic Trojans went 2-4, Tri Valley went 1-5 and the Hot Shots went 0-6.

In the first round of the bracket, the Banana Sluggers, the Bloodthirsty Vikings, Tri Valley and the Cobras each won.

The Vikings sent Tri Valley, a team led by Trevor Crawford, to the loser's bracket in the second round and the Banana Sluggers and the Cobras matched up in what was perhaps the best game of the tournament.

The Cobras included Phil Mannelly, Buddy Lowe, Nate Whalin, Sean Molina, Jeff White and Kevin Rogers, all of Douglas High last year.

White pitched against the Sluggers, as was nearly unhittable.

"Jeff threw really well," Albert said. "We couldn't touch him. It really turned into a pitcher's duel."

Brady Ovard took the circle for the Sluggers and was equally effective as the teams completed the allotted six innings tied at zero.

From there, each team started the seventh with a runner on second, but neither was able to score.

Both teams started the eighth with a runner on third and the Cobras were able to bring a run across to take a 1-0 lead.

The Banana Sluggers came back around in the bottom half of the inning to tie it up a one, sending the game to the ninth.

The Cobras again took a one-run lead, but they intentionally loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half to bring Brady Ovard to the plate.

Ovard hit the ball and the Cobras fielded it and threw the ball at the runner advancing to home. The ball bounced off the ground and then hit the runner, causing confusion.

"That was something that probably had to be clarified," Albert said. "You're allowed to throw the ball at a runner to tag him out, but it doesn't count if it hits the ground first. We hadn't really clarified that, so we just played the at-bat over."

On the replay, Ovard struck out, but the next batter drew a walk to score the game-winning run.

In the semifinals, the Banana Sluggers and the Vikings played another tight game, this time with Brady Ovard hitting a solo home run to tie the game at one and the go-ahead coming later on for a 2-1 win.

The Twinkle Twinks, a team that included Nick and Anthony Lonnegren, Tisha Luken, Stacy Hoogestraat and Paul Tersteege, worked its way back through the loser's bracket, but lost to the Vikings 3-0 in the bracket final.

Luken hit two home runs during the tournament.

For the Banana Sluggers, Austin Ovard was the big performer on the weekend, hitting nine home runs in eight games.

"Austin just had a great tournament," Albert said. "He was clutch, just had some big time hits."

Albert said he will probably institute a home run derby next year between the interpool and pool play games.

"There are definitely some great hitters out there, so we'll let their own team pitch to them and maybe take a total of 10 guys and see who comes out on top," Albert said. "This tournament, though, is all about pitching. If you have the pitching, you'll get pretty far."

-- Joey Crandall can be reached at or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.


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