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New York Gremlins repeat as ISC World Tournament Champions

September 8, 2019

Denmark, WI - - New York Gremlins repeat as ISC World Tournament Champions



 
New York Gremlins repeat as ISC World Tournament Champions
 
By BOB OTTO
Aug. 17, 2019
 
DENMARK, Wis. - In the 73 years of the International Softball Congress World Tournament, just a handful of teams have been able to join the exclusive fraternity of back-to-back champions. 
 
Welcome aboard New York Gremlins.
 
Late Saturday night the Gremlins became just the 13th team to repeat by defeating the Kitchener, Ontario, Hallman Cubs, 8-1, in the title game, matching their same score in the 2018 final.
 
“Winning back-to-back is unbelievable,” said Gremlins pitcher ANDREW KIRKPATRICK, who pitched a four-hitter and struck out ten for his sixth win of the tournament. “To get two in a row is something you dream of and the reason we play the game.” 
 
When tournament awards were handed out, the 38-year-old Kirkpatrick was selected the Most Outstanding Pitcher, his second consecutive honor and third in his 19 years of world tournament play.
 
BRONX BOMBERS OF THE ISC  
 
The Gremlins were on a mission from the moment the first pitch was thrown in the eight day event. No doubt, Kirkpatrick was a force in the circle, but he credits his teammates for swinging the bat with overwhelming authority.  
 
When the final stats were tabulated, the Clifton Park, New York squad of international stars from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the U.S. had out-slugged and out-scored its opponents by an incredible 51-6 margin. And the Gremlins topped nearly every offensive category: Team batting average, .360. RBI, 45. Runs, 51. Home runs, 15. OBP, .472, and SLG, .755. And the list could go on.    
 
“The offense gives me so much support,” said the Australian, Kirkpatrick. “It makes my job pretty easy.”
 
PALAZZO’S BLAST SPARKS THE OFFENSE
 
In the title game, the Gremlins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning on MATT PALAZZO’S two-run blast deep over the right-field fence, and BRYAN ABERY lifted a sacrifice fly deep enough to send LADISLAO MALARCZUK home from third.
 
The Iowa native Palazzo, drove in eight runs in the tournament, tying him with teammate BEN ENOKA. Both were selected All-World players. In the winners bracket final Friday night, Palazzo stung the Cubs with a three-run homer and he was looking to do the same when he came to bat in the championship.
 
“I got a pitch I was looking for and was able to turn on it and just barreled it up,” said Palazzo, who captains the USA National Team. “Winning back-to-back, it’s great. We are a group of brothers that stuck together and we showed why we’re the number one (ISC ranked) team in the world.”
 
ENOKA SEALS THE WIN
 
The Gremlins added another three runs in the fourth on a bases loaded walk that brought home MALARCZUK, followed by Enoka’s double down the left field line that chased home two more runs and essentially sealed the win.
 
The right-side hitting Enoka swung a sizzling bat and finished with a .563 batting average (9-for-16), fourth best in the tournament.
 
“I’m proud of this team,” said Enoka of Aukland, New Zealand. “All season we’ve been a tight unit and we’ve stuck together. We’ve got a lot of leaders from national teams that came together and played their hearts out for this team.”
 
Enoka also tipped his hat to the Hallman Cubs for reaching the title game after the Gremlins had defeated them in the winners’ bracket final, 11-4. The Cubs climbed back out of the losers bracket for the rematch by beating The Hallman Twins, also of Kitchener, 6-5.
 
CUBS AND MATA OUTSTANDING
 
For the Cubs, this was their first time playing on “championship day.” When the tournament kicked off, the No. 7 ranked Cubs probably weren’t an overwhelming favorite to make the title game, but they proved any doubters wrong by playing seven games and finishing with a 5-2 mark.
 
“Congratulations to the Cubs in reaching the finals,” Enoka said, “they had a great tournament.”
 
Though the going was rough against the Gremlins, one of the Cubs highlights was knocking off the Hill United Chiefs, the No. 2 ranked team in the ISC, and a four-time ISC world champion, 2-1, on HUEMUL MATA’s 4-hitter and seven strikeouts.
 
Mata, who led his Argentina national team to Gold medals in the World Baseball Softball championship and the Pan American Games, had a remarkable tournament, hurling 37.1 innings, tops among all pitchers. And he pitched all but six of the Cubs innings. For his workhorse performance and 5-2 record, Mata was selected a First Team, All-World pitcher. 
 
But in the title game, his tank ran empty in the fourth. RYAN FRENCH relieved the right-hander and as Mata walked toward his bench, he was greeted with hearty applause from appreciative fastball fans.
 
KIRKPATRICK EARNS SKIPPER’S PRAISE
 
Through four innings, the left-handed Kirkpatrick’s sharp-breaking rise ball and drop held the Cubs to just a single by ROWAN LAM in the third and a lead off triple by ALAN PEKER in the fourth. But the left-hander struck out QUINTEN BRUCE and Mata on rise balls, and retired JUAN ZARA on a ground ball to third baseman JEROME RAEMAKI, putting an end to the Cubs threat.
 
The Cubs avoided the shutout in the fifth when ROWAN LAM slammed a Kirkpatrick rise ball deep over the left-field fence. But the unfazed Kirkpatrick ended any thoughts of a Cubs’ comeback by getting two ground balls to end the inning.
 
Gremlins manager, GREGG LEATHER, has come to know the physical and mental strengths of his star pitcher since he began wearing the Gremlins uniform in 2007.
 
“He always amazes me,” Leather said of Kirkpatrick. “over the last two years he’s really stepped up as a pitcher and a hitter. There’s not enough accolades to describe him. He has incredible heart.”
 
BLAKE UNDERWOOD got the final hit off Kirkpatrick in the sixth with a leadoff single, but three consecutive strikeouts later, the Cubs were retired, and as they’ve done all tournament long, the Gremlins bats finished off the game.
 
GREMLINS BATS SEAL THE REPEAT
 
NICK MULLINS started the bottom half of the sixth with single, MATHIEU ROY walked and Enoka drove a hit into right-field to load the bases. That brought Kirkpatrick to the plate, and he drilled a line drive into the glove of centerfielder BLAKE UNDERWOOD deep enough to send CAMPBELL ANOKA racing home with the seventh run.
 
Then ZENON WINTERS hit a high bounder to shortstop ROWAN LAM who fired the ball to second baseman MITCH STACK, but the speedy Enoka beat the throw as Roy crossed the plate with the final run to end the game on the mercy rule. 
 
And as soon as Roy’s foot touched home, the celebration began for this Gremlins squad that for eight years always finished in the top four of the world tournament, but couldn’t reach the top rung. Until 2018, and now again.
 
How good does back-to-back feel?
 
“For ten years in a row, we’ve always played on the final day and we finally won the last two (championships),” Leather said, and when asked about winning consecutive titles, he added, “It sounds pretty good, it really does. It was a matter of getting the right mix of players and them buying into the team concept. And they did.”
 
OFFENSIVE LEADERS
 
For the Gremlins, Enoka was 2-2, 2 RBI; Palazzo, 2-2, 2 RBI, and Raemaki, Malarczuk and Nick Mullins had one hit each. The Cubs were led by Lam, 2-2, RBI, HR; and Underwood and Peker had a hit each.
 
PITCHING  
 
Gremlins, Kirkpatrick, 6 innings, 4 hits, 1 earned run, 10 strikeouts. 
Cubs, Mata, 3.1 innings, 4 hits, 4 earned runs, 3 BB, 2 strikeouts; French, 2.1 innings, 3 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 BB, 2 strikeouts. 
 
 
New York Gremlins repeat as ISC World Tournament Champions
 
 
 
Gremlins pitcher ANDREW KIRKPATRICK
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