Eight teams, nearly 110 softball players and two days of thrilling games provided for a successful inaugural Don Young Memorial Softball Tournament.
Hosted at Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley, eight of the 10 teams from the Gold Country Senior Softball Association battled it out Monday and Tuesday in a single elimination tournament in honor of Don Young who passed away in 2010.
Young moved to Penn Valley in 1978 and was instrumental in the growth of not only the GCSSA but Penn Valley in general, said Don’s widow, Jackie Young, who was in attendance for the event.
“I know Don would be so honored for all this to be done in his name,” Jackie said. “He would be thrilled to see this happening.”
The tourney featured a barbecue, a raffle and drama-filled games.
The championship game was a back-and-forth affair between the Tax Dodgers and Meyers Investment Group that came down to the very end.
In the bottom of the seventh and final inning, Meyers Investment Group came to the plate trailing by one run, 11-10.
Leadoff hitter Mike McCormack reached on an infield hit, putting the tying run on first. Outfielder Scott Murray then dug into the batter’s box and ripped a rocket shot into the gap in right field. McCormack, one of the faster players on the field, raced around the bases, narrowly beating out the throw home.
On the throw home, the ball skipped away from the Tax Dodgers’ catcher and Murray, now on third base, made a dash for home, scoring the game-winning run and notching the first Don Young Memorial Tournament championship in the name of Meyers Investment Group, 12-11.
“I don’t usually get walkoffs, but I do get home runs from time to time,” Murray said after the game. “It was a lot of fun. I like to be in that position, and I’m supposed to come through in that situation, and today, I did.”
Murray finished the game 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored.
Murray also had a walkoff hit in Meyers Investment Group’s semifinal win over B&C True Value.
Meyers Investment Group had grabbed a sizable lead at 6-1 through the first three innings, getting RBI hits from Al Bolen, James McCammon, Tom Paone, Dave Billings and Bob Scaletti.
In the fourth inning, the Tax Dodgers roared back into the game with four runs, coming off RBI hits from Mike Henning and Tom Myers.
In the bottom of the fourth, Meyers Investment Group got those runs back with a fantastic two-out rally, scoring four runs coming off a two-RBI hit by Mark Estrada and an RBI hit by McCormack.
Undaunted by the five-run deficit, the Tax Dodgers again charged back, scoring three in the top of he fifth with RBI hits coming off the bats of Henning and Myers. Henning finished the game with two RBIs, and Myers accounted for three.
After a three-up, three-down inning for Meyers Investment Group in the fifth, the Tax Dodgers went back to work with three runs in the sixth to take the lead at 11-10 with all runs coming with two-outs. Steve Monical, the tourney’s MVP, knocked in a run and was 3-for-3 on the day. Jim Ford added an RBI single in the inning and so did Bob Guilbault.
The game remained at that score until Murray’s tournament- winning hit in the seventh.
Overall, the tournament was a success, said tourney organizer Mike Mastrodonato, who has plans to expand upon the event in the future.
“We’re hoping to grow it,” he said. “Maybe move it to a weekend and invite some out-of-town teams, do a double elimination and generate more revenue.”
With the Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce serving up hot dogs and hamburgers, raffle prizes donated by local businesses and team entry fees, the tourney raised around $800, which will feed into the GCSSA for new equipment said Mastrodonato.
As the tourney concluded, it was all smiles from players, fans and volunteers at the Western Gateway Park’s softball fields. Mastrodonato addressed the crowd and awarded the trophies to the winning team and tourney MVP.
“I just hope we did a good enough job that Don noticed,” he said.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.