Tenth Clark Memorial a success

July 21, 2010 —

By Bill Mullaly

The tenth annual David Clark Memorial Youth Baseball Tournament ended with a bang and it wasn’t from bats and balls. For the first time in the ten-year history of the annual July baseball showcase event the tournament ended not with a third out but with a bolt of lightning and a crack of thunder. Last Sunday the tournament came to a screeching halt just after 5:00 more than two hours into the championship game between two teams from Ohio. A summer thunderstorm blew in and did its work and left just enough rain to force the final game to be halted early but not before it was called a completed game.

The Maxton Motors Bulldogs from the Northwest Ohio area got the championship win by a 14-9 score over their intra-state rivals the Indians from Wauseon, Ohio. The championship game was slated as a seven-inning contest after all the pool play and earlier playoff games were six-inning affairs. The Bulldogs led by five runs and were batting in the top of the seventh when the weather gods decided enough fun had been had by all and lightning forced the game to be stopped. Wauseon head coach Mark Shadbolt felt it best to call it a game instead of possibly waiting out the storm to finish the last inning. The championship tilt was a first for having two teams from Ohio playing one another up here on Michigan soil. The two friendly rivals brought their neighborhood feud north with them and the Bulldogs prevailed in what was the highest scoring championship game ever. For Bulldog veteran head coach Eddie Robison it was his second crown after leading the Pioneer Legion team to the title in 2006 back four years ago. “This was my first trip back here with a team since the last title year and it was fun to be back at this tournament,” said Robison, who is considering retiring from coaching for few years after this current season ends. He picked up career win 1000 during the weekend tournament.

Here is a complete look at the 2010 David Clark Memorial Baseball Tournament that was played last week here in Hudson.

Tournament Review

The 2010 DCM featured 10 teams and was an event more like the first tournament back in 2001 when tournament organizer Bruce Morse put together 10 teams. This year 25 games were played over five days thus the slogan for the tournament is “Five Days in July.” In ten years of running this tournament not one game has ever been lost due to the weather. “We have had games postponed, rescheduled, pushed back or resumed later but never has a game been lost to the elements in the ten-year existence of the Clark Memorial,” said tournament co-director Morse. And this year was no different as a highly anticipated storm on Thursday evening never materialized and the final game was almost in the books and far enough along to call it a completed game. Thus, the ten-year streak of never missing a game lives on for the David Clark Memorial here in Hudson.

The tournament featured two pools of five teams and Hudson competed in the Orange pool and the Tigers were hit with some tough luck. In a scenario eerily similar to last year the Tigers almost ended 2-2 in pool play and had they won its last game they would have won a tiebreaker to get into the playoffs. Hudson held a 2-1 lead on Homer and needed three outs to go 2-2 and a win by giving up less than ten runs would have put them in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, Homer didn’t cooperate as they rallied with two outs in the bottom of the final inning to score two runs to take a thrilling 3-2 win. Hudson with the win would have been tied with Jackson Western and Homer as both would have been 2-2. Homer won and moved to 3-1 in pool play leaving Hudson out of the playoffs. A win by the Tigers would have given them an edge over Western as the Panthers, who were 2-2, gave up 39 runs. Hudson would have given up just 29 runs but the Tigers couldn’t hold on and had to head for home finished for the tournament.

In its four games the home team had one win. They began play on Thursday evening and fell to the eventual champion Maxton Motors Bulldogs 5-0. On Friday late in the afternoon it was Hudson falling to Jackson Western 12-7. Back came the Tigers to win a thrilling 12-11 contest over Columbia Central on Saturday morning in a game played at the high school. In the big win over the Golden Eagles Hudson was up 12-8 and the Tigers were living on the edge as Columbia started to rally but a huge unassisted double play by Tiger second base Austin Scoby preserved the win. He snagged a hard hit line drive with one out and then stepped on second to end the game as he doubled off the runner. Cody Nelson got the big save on the mound in that game. This set up the must win game against Homer but the Tigers let a precarious 2-1 lead slip away in the Trojan final at bat. Hudson had two outs with a runner on second and one strike on the batter as they were that close to a win but it didn’t happen.

Last year Hudson finished 2-2 and won the tiebreaker over two teams by allowing fewer runs and this year the same scenario almost took place.

Hudson ended its four games at 1-3 but made a solid showing as head coach Eric Nelson and assistant Leo Scoby had the team ready to play. It is always good to have the hometown team playing as a time or two in the past ten years Hudson didn’t have a team. This was coach Nelson’s second year in a row coaching in this local tournament. “We played pretty well and I was happy with the effort of the boys,” said Nelson, who saw his team’s record slip to 11-5 on the season as Hudson came into the tournament at 10-2.

Tournament Tidbits

*The only downside to the inclement weather at the end was that Watson and JoAnn Clark, David’s parents, were unable to hand out the awards to the two teams after the post-game handshake. The teams usually lineup on the foul lines and the awards are handed out. Then Watson and JoAnn have their picture taken with the winning team. This was not possibly with all the rain; thunder and lightning taking place.

*Watson and JoAnn again were at most all of the games and got to talk to and meet with people from the various teams, which is one of their highlights to the annual tournament.

*Making an unexpected but much appreciated appearance for the championship game were the Neibauers from Grass Lake. Keith coached the two-time defending champion Michigan Crush team and his wife, Carrie, and son, K.J., made the trip down for the final game. K.J. will be a junior for the Warriors this year and he is still the only two-time tournament Most Valuable Player in the history of the David Clark event. The Crush and Neibauers won team and individual titles in 2008-09.

*The tournament’s Most Valuable Player this year went to Jacob Scott of the Maxton Bulldogs. He played well all weekend and then hit a grand slam homerun in the top of the first inning to give his team a quick 4-0 lead in the championship game and it was one they would not relinquish.

*Again, the umpiring was as good as you would find at this level. Helping call balls and strikes and punching people out were veterans Pat McCabe of Pittsford, Dale McFaul of Pittsford, Dan Laws of Pittsford and Rick Lee also of Pittsford. Pat Morse of Hudson also did a fine job of umpiring.

*The grounds crew was top notch and got plenty of compliments from players, coaches and fans. Bruce Morse headed up the field maintenance. He got plenty of help from step-son Johnny Everhart of Virginia and from Watson. Everhart is an interesting story as the junior-to-be at Riverbend High School back home in Spottsy, Virginia, comes up each summer to help with the tournament in any way he can. He has been with us each summer since 2004. He has chased foul balls, fixed up the field, played in some games one year, and now is the official home run derby coordinator. Everhart is a big part of the success of the DCM. *Winning the home run derby contest was Jon Van Meter of Homer. He hit five home runs over the fence on the small field at Will Carleton Park. His team, the Homer Trojans, won the team event smacking 10 home runs to just nine for Jackson Western.

*A big thanks to the official tournament sponsors as Tim Zacharias at C R Motor Sales, Bruce Isenhower of Hardy-Reed Tool & Die Company, Ron Haber of County National Bank and Morse’s company United Grinding Technologies of Fredricksburg, VA all contributed to the event. Lonnie Tompkins of The Shirt Wizard provided the official yellow tournament T-shirt and Shirley Knapp of Countryside Trophies handled the team and individual awards.

*It should be noted that last week it was mentioned the previous tournament winners and in the inaugural event in 2001 a Hudson-based team the Michigan A’s won. Local long-time youth coach Greg Bailey led that team and he had four Hudson players not three. R.J. Aguirre was inadvertently let out of last week’s story. He played for coach Bailey along with Anthony Carr, Harry Bailey and Landon Shaffer. That team with those four Hudson players is the only connection Hudson has to having a championship team being associated with the DCM.

*A big thanks for the local girls softball league for running the concession stand at Will Carleton Park. Connie “Hazel” Varney and her crew did a nice job and made some money for the softball program.

*The 2010 DCM is in the books and it was another success. Games were played, fans behaved, coaches and players showed good sportsmanship and the memory of David Clark lived on again. It should be noted that Bruce and Pat Morse along with Everhart had the field nicely painted up again with the DCM and roman numeral X for this year’s event painted on both bench area sidelines. Painted in right field was David’s number 20 that he wore as a player for coach Morse back in 1999 and 2000 as Barry Sanders was his favorite athlete. Thanks to Jason Sallows of Do it Best for helping with donating a large portion of the paint.

*We will all return again next summer for those “Five Days in July.” The 2011 tournament will be held on July 13-17 here in Hudson. The David Clark Memorial continues to be a mid-summer classic here in town.