ASHLAND, Ky. – The Baseball Bunch won the third annual Amy For Africa Whiffleball Tournament in grand fashion.
Team captain Derek Runyon’s walkoff homer in the bottom of the third inning lifted the Bunch to a 7-6 victory over All About that Base in a pulsating championship game on Aug. 1 at the “Fenway Park” field on the corner lot of Unity Baptist Church.
However, the biggest winners of the day were the children from the Moyo region in Uganda. The tournament raised $4,600 for the Amy For Africa mission through entry fees, $5 home run buckets, concessions, business donations, and a silent auction. Kona Ice also provided a refreshing boost to the scorching hot afternoon, selling $1,000 worth of shaved ice with $250 going to AFA.
“People are so generous and we are so thankful we can put this tournament on for the community,” said Amy Compston, the face of the AFA mission. “God continues to bless what we are trying to do in Moyo and doing it through so many wonderful people right here in the Ashland area.
“Four of our five schools (in Moyo) need help to get up to government standards. We know God is going to provide and this is another way He is doing it.”
Thirty-two teams started the day wanting to take the coveted title. The Baseball Bunch became the third different champion in three years.
Scott Ingram, a late substitute for the Bunch, provided some sparkling defense and power hitting in the championship game. The coach of 16th Region softball champion Ashland showed he could put the plastic to the whiffleball with some monumental blasts just when the Bunch needed it most.
His father, Smokey Ingram, was taking full credit following the game. “Well, you know, I taught him everything he knows,” Smokey said. “I asked ‘Why didn’t you hit like that in high school?'”
Too bad the Tomcats didn’t have a wiffleball team.
Aaron Acuff, his son Ben, Steve Thompson and Ben Maynard were other members of the Bunch.
Runyon, the principal at Paul Blazer High School, showed he had the right stuff in the clutch when he busted the game-winner over the “Green Monster” in left field.
All About that Base was coming off an exciting 9-7 victory over 2013 champion L-Train, led by Rob and Ryan Lynch. Rob’s young sons, Noah and River, more than carried their weight. Noah powered a home run and River nearly belted one out in the semifinal game, knocking it off the Monster for a triple. River was the youngest player in the tournament at 5 years old.
“We’ll be back,” pledged team captain Rob Lynch.
Defending champions Kona Krushers were eliminated with a 14-13 loss in one of the day’s most exciting games.
Underdog 2.0 captain Luke Alley hit a walkoff three-run homer to defeat the Sharon Road Gang 13-12 in the quarterfinals. The game featured a father-son battle with Smooth Greene (Sharon Road) taking on Zach Greene (Underdog 2.0). Smooth’s brother, Andrew, may have been one of the biggest home run hitters in the field. He smacked nine in three games, including one that nearly cleared the church office on the “Camden Yard” field.
Caleb Jackson was the Home Run Derby champion after blasting 15 home runs, beating out 39 other competitors for the coveted title. The Mighty Morphin Wiffle Ballers were selected as Best Dressed and it wasn’t even close. They were dressed as Power Rangers and even knew the poses.
Tony Grossl, 67, was again the oldest competitor and he also belted a home run. “I had to show them I still had it,” he said. “One was all that was necessary.”
SuperHero Creamery was the tournament sponsor this season and Sam Beason served as tournament director/field manager for the second year in a row.
“We couldn’t do it without Sam Beason,” Compston said. “He’s as much a part of us bringing in $4,600 as any one individual. Praise the Lord for his willingness to work for the children in Moyo.”