Commentary from Atlanta: Championship Game
Ten HSAA seniors showed up to Atlanta, Georgia, for the 6th Annual HWSA Home School Baseball Championships. They didn't come here for the 3rd place medals. They had already done that twice. They didn't come here for the 2nd place medals. They accomplished that feat last year. They came here for one thing: the Silver Cup. The Silver Cup resides in the hands of the top home school baseball team in the United States (probably the world) for one year. It returns to the HWSA Championships scene the next year. Maybe it will remain with the same team...maybe not. For the 2005-2006 year, it will reside on the mantle in Coach Chuck Hendricks' home. Ten seniors brought that Silver Cup to Coach Hendricks. Thank you, Seniors!
Bryan Neff, co-captain
Reid Lorenz, co-captain
The bottom of the 5th inning:
Score tied 0-0. The home team, the Dallas Angels, is batting. J.D. Price grounds out. David Hendricks pops out. Two outs. Jon Hutt, the designated hitter, hits a single up the middle. Hutt on first base. Peter Ellwood hits a pop fly down the foul line in shallow right field. On the foul line, the Barons right-fielder appears to have it in his glove, but it pops out, bounces off the player's knee and rolls out of play. Hutt is rounding second during the error and easily scores after the ball reaches unplayable territory. Ellwood meanwhile advances to third base. After an umpire conference, Hutt is sent back to third base, and Ellwood is sent back to second. The next batter is Ian Hockett, a pinch hitter. Ian smashes a 2-RBI single, scoring Hutt and Ellwood. That's all the Angels needed for the win.
Starting pitcher J.D. Price goes 6 1/3 innings and gets the win. Reliever Jon Hutt gets the save.
Final score: Dallas Angels 2 Atlanta Barons 0
Commentary from Atlanta: Barons vs. Knights
College scouts were in attendance at this semifinal game of the 6th Annual HWSA Home School Tournament in Atlanta, Georgia. Just minutes before, the Dallas Angels easily handled the Raleigh Warriors, 4-1, in the first semifinal game. Senior John Cavanaugh pitched a solid game and got the win for the Angels.
There was no doubt that the second semifinal game would be a dogfight. The teams were evenly matched.
The Atlanta South Christian Knights had beaten the Atlanta Barons only once in its 6-year existence, and that was this season. It is estimated that the Knights overall record against the Barons is 1-35. The Knights had not only beaten the 4-time HWSA champion Barons one week earlier in conference play, but it had just beaten the Dallas Angels, 6-3, in their last meeting in pool play. The Knights confidence was at an all-time high. Going into the top of the 7th inning, there was no reason to believe that the Knights couldn't do it again. The visitor team Knights were ahead 5-4, with the bases loaded and no outs. There was an electric atmosphere on the Knights side of the bleachers. The Barons fans were almost silent. Their dynasty was soon coming to an end. However, the Barons players had a different idea. Two straight ground balls into the Barons infield resulted in forced outs at home plate. The next batter was retired by flying out to shallow right field. The Barons had survived the scare by not allowing the Knights to extend their lead, and went into the bottom of the 7th inning down by only one run.
With Knights starting pitching Tim Peavy still on the mound, the first Barons batter flied out. The Knights fans rose to their feet. It was time to cheer the underdogs to victory. Only two more outs! The next Barons hitter, catcher Tim Johnson, drew a walk on a full count. With one out, a runner on first, and down by one run, Barons shortstop senior Zach Kunz came to the plate. The count was 2 balls and 1 strike. The next pitch was high and inside. Kunz's composure was remarkable. He waited on it, and then it happened. Kunz turned on the ball like a corkscrew. There was no doubt from this casual observer. The ball sailed over the left-field wall, just a few feet from the foul pole. Kunz had just performed what all baseball players dream about: a two-run walk-off homerun to win the game. A wild celebration erupted at home plate and in the Barons bleachers. The Knights fans fell silent.
The Barons-Knights game may go down as the best homeschool baseball game ever played.
Commentary from Atlanta: Pool Play
Things were looking predictable after the first day of baseball. The two "favorites" in the tournament, the Atlanta Barons and the Dallas Angels were both undefeated after a relatively "easy" first two games in Pool Play. The Angels blew past the Huntsville, AL Falcons, 11-5, though the game was really not as close as the final score indicated. In short, the Angels, behind the pitching of J.D. Price, played good ball offensively, and the Falcons did not have a very good game at all, defensively or offensively. In the night game, the Angels had no trouble with the hapless Augusta Crusaders from Georgia. Jonathan Reeder threw a no-hitter in a game in which the Angels yawningly closed out the game, 10-0, after a slow start offensively. The Crusaders ended the tournament with no wins and very few runs. Meanwhile, the 4-time HWSA champions, the Atlanta Barons, took care of business by taking decisive victories over the Fort Worth Riders and the Nashville Monarchs. Both the Barons and the Angels appeared on their way to sweeps in their respective pools.
Tuesday was full of surprises. The Raleigh Warriors, after a "terrible" first game against the Nashville Monarchs on Monday morning, finally squeaked out a win over the Fort Worth Riders, 5-4. It was the confidence that the Warriors needed for Tuesday's face-off with the Barons. The Warriors were fighting for a playoff spot, and they delivered. In obviously the biggest surprise of the tournament thus far, the Warriors, who came out of the East Region as the champion, had no mercy on the Barons, who were saving their pitching for the semifinals and finals. The Warriors kept their playoff hopes alive with a 15-2 slashing of the Barons. Meanwhile, the Dallas Angels fell victim to the Atlanta South Knights, who were in a must-win situation after losing to a revived Huntsville Falcons team the day before. The Atlanta South Knights threw their top pitcher at the Angels and pulled out the win, 6-3. In the bottom of the 7th inning, the Angels were down 6-2 and scored a critical final run, which became the difference between the Angels being a Number 1 seed or a Number 2 seed in the semifinals.
After pool play ended, there were a total of 6 teams (out of the 8) who had identical 2-1 records. HWSA rules dictate that "runs allowed per inning" is the tie-breaker when 3 teams have identical records. In Pool B, based upon almost identical defensive runs statistics, the Dallas Angels and Atlanta South Knights were allowed to advance, while the Huntsville Falcons were eliminated. In Pool A, it became more complicated. Going into the last game, it looked like the Raleigh Warriors would be the eliminated team, but even though the Riders, who never won a game in pool play, lost to the Nashville Monarchs, 19-10, in the final game of pool play, it was the Riders' 10 runs that sealed the unfortunate fate for the Monarchs. Ironically, the Monarchs could have been a No. 1 seed by holding the Riders to under 5 runs. But they were scratching for survival. If the Monarchs could have held the Riders to 8 runs, then they would have advanced as a No. 2 seed. The Riders scored their 10th run in the last inning before the game ended due to time expiration. After the calculators were brought out and the dust had lifted, Pool A sent the Barons and the Raleigh Warriors to the semifinals. The Monarchs were sent home packing. The Nashville Monarchs, who should have been celebrating a great 19-10 win, was totally dejected by the turn of events.