Morning Call News story on the Walsh/Hadl Tournament

July 25, 2007

Allentown, PA

Grand slam helps Patsy's hook the River Sharks

(Reprinted with permission of the Morning Call)

Brad Rona's homer lifts Patsy's to 4-3 win and Walsh/Madl title.

By Keith Groller
Of The Morning Call

July 23, 2007

The Patsy's men's fastpitch team is officially considered to be from
New York City.

But when you talk to many of the team's stars, you won't hear a
Brooklyn, Bronx or Queens accent, nor will you hear anything close to
resembling the Pennsylvania Dutch lingo commonly heard at Patriots

That's because Patsy's, like most men's softball juggernauts, are an
international team and on Sunday it was a New Zealander and an Aussie
who shined the brightest to help the team win the eighth annual Bob
Walsh/Tom Madl Memorial Classic.

Against the Orillia River Sharks in the title game, Brad Rona, the New
Zealander, hit a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning to break
open a scoreless tie.

Then Adam Folkard, the tall, hard-throwing Aussie, gave up three runs
in the top of the seventh, but escaped further damage for the 4-3 win,
nailing down the first tournament title of the year for Patsy's.

''It's an old cliche, but in games like this, it's never over until
it's over,'' Patsy's manager Phil Rogers said. ''We go up four on the
grand slam and relaxed just a little bit and you have to give [the
River Sharks]credit. They fought back. They didn't quit and had the
right guys up.''

The exciting battle between the world's two top-ranked teams capped an
entertaining weekend of softball in south Allentown, a three-day
extravaganza that will be remembered for high-scoring offense and
postcard-perfect weather.

But while things heated up temperature-wise on Sunday, the starting
pitchers in the finals — Folkard and Orillia's Frank Cox — cooled down
the bats with 51/2 scoreless innings.

Cox left the game to start the bottom of the sixth.

''Frank has a shoulder tendon that swells up and he probably would
have been able to go deeper, but we have the ASA nationals and the ISC
worlds coming up and we didn't want to push it,'' Orillia president
Bob Nydick said.

Robbie O'Brien replaced Cox in the sixth and was greeted by Derek
Pukash's single to left. Tom Makea followed with a bunt single and
Omar Moraga's sacrifice bunt was mishandled to load the bases.

That set the stage for Rona, who jumped on a 0-1 pitch and sent it
well over the fence in left-center.

''It was my second home run of the tournament and it came at a perfect
time,'' Rona said. ''I was seeing the ball really well. I wasn't
thinking about a home run. I just try to go up there and hit strikes
and drive the ball. I got it on the good part of the bat and it went a
long way.''

Rona's blast sent some in the crowd to the exits, but those who left
early missed some late suspense.

Folkard cruised through six innings with a one-hitter, but Ryan Wolfe
doubled to start the seventh and he scored on Steve Mullaley's single.
O'Brien followed with a double and Blair Ezekiel smacked a two-run
single to make it 4-3 and wound up on second.

Ezekiel went to third on Tim Macumber's sac bunt, but would advance no
further as Folkard fanned Sean O'Brien and got Steffen Walma on a
grounder to third to end it.

''The game got a little too interesting in that last inning,'' Folkard
said. ''I don't know what happened in the seventh. I tried to slow
down the ball a little bit, hit spots and tried to get groundballs.
That didn't work. It wasn't until the last couple of batters until we
got back in the groove. The strikeout was the big key to getting out
of the jam.''

The same two teams met in the finals of the World Series of Fastball
Tournament in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, last weekend and it would not
be a shock to see them go head-to-head in the ASA National
Championships Aug. 2-5 in South Bend, Ind., or the ISC World event
Aug. 10-18 in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

''Winning this is definitely a big booster for the ASA and ISC
tournaments,'' Folkard said. ''It's our first tournament win of the
year. We haven't played well at the end of tournaments to this point,
but this time, we stuck in there.''

And while men's fastpitch has seen better days in the Lehigh Valley,
the Walsh tournament continues to carve out its own niche. The tourney
drew decent crowds throughout the weekend and director Jon Adams is
already making plans for next year.

''You couldn't ask for a better tournament than what we had here with
the best teams and players in the world competing right down to the
wire,'' Adams said. ''I'm telling people to mark their calendars for
next July 18-20 because we'll be back, bigger and better than ever.''

Thanks to Keith Groller/Morning Call for granting permission to
reprint this story.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Morning Call

Best regards,
Jim Flanagan
Email: jim (at) fastpitchwest.com

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