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Tournament of Champions 2021 - Recap

Seven Public Safety Teams Compete in the 2021 Tournament of Champions!
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The 2021 Guns & Hoses Softball Best in the West - Tournament of Champions Grand Finale took place this past Saturday November 13th at the Fountain Valley Sports Park. The 2021 season finished up with the usual competition, camaraderie, tight scores, and great times. This year’s Random Draw Double Elimination TOC was held under unusually warm conditions for Orange County this time of year. The sun was out with no cloud cover and the temps hit 90 degrees mid day, but then cooled off perfectly for the late afternoon and evening games. This season ending Championship Tournament would decide which Public Safety Team would battle through the brackets and claim the 2021 title and be forever enshrined on the big Guns & Hoses perpetual Champions TOC Trophy. This years TOC was indeed special as we had 3 separate Champions from our earlier 2021 events and all teams that participated have been past Champions at some point in the past few seasons. So it was truly a “Tournament of Champions” from the start.

Sticking with the Corona-Virus theme all season long, teams battled it out for 24 pack cases of Long Neck “Corona” beer, the custom G & H Covid masks, the custom G & H Grim Reaper TOC Champions Team shirts, a team pizza party courtesy of Lampost Pizza, and of course the bragging rights and the forever enshrinement upon the big perpetual Guns & Hoses TOC Champions Trophy.

 

The annual TOC is also unique in how the playoff brackets are determined. This is the one and only G & H tournament of the season where bracket placement is decided with a completely random blind draw, instead of the usual pool play record. All teams received 2 pool play (warm up) games, then team Captains selected a sealed envelope, which literally meant it all came down to “luck of the draw”. This made things very interesting and very unpredictable, as in years past we have been witness to all the top teams winding up on the same side of the brackets.

The teams finished pool play with the following records:

2-0 Unlawful Assembly
2-0 Riverside S.O. Force
1-1 USMC First 2 Fight
1-1 MCLB Barstow Fire
1-1 NAVY Kirks Posse
0-2 Culver City Chaos
0-2 LASD Slaps

With pool play completed and the first two games for each team having no bearing on the brackets, the team captains one by one made their way to the Tournament Directors table to select the blind draw envelope. There was only 1 spot that afforded a first round bye and this spot was selected by USMC First 2 Fight. The remaining random draw selections ended up on the brackets and the Double-elimination games got down to business! It opened up on Field #1 with LASD Slaps enacting revenge for an earlier pool play loss against Unlawful Assembly. This time Slaps slapped Unlawful Assembly around with a score of 23-6. Field #3 was witness to another pool play match up and this one was much closer than the 25-16 final count, but it was RSO Force moving on and MCLB Fire getting bumped to the losers bracket. The final first round game saw the Navy team battle with Culver City Chaos. Kirks Posse caused chaos and confusion as the Culver City team was still shaking off the rust of a long hiatus from G & H softball. Final count was 19-4 the Navy team out of San Diego moves on in the winners bracket and Chaos was sent to the lower bracket to re-group.

The second round of the winners bracket saw the scores tighten as LASD Slaps faced an old foe from earlier this season in the Fightin Leathernecks hailing from Camp Pendleton. LASD Slaps continued their winning ways with a victory over USMC First 2 Fight, 13-3. Over on Field #4, in an absolute nail-biter to the finish line, Navy Kirk’s Posse squeaked past RSO Force 11-10. This set up the final round of the winners bracket, between LASD Slaps and Kirks Posse. The Posse got hot when it counted most and toppled the LA County Sheriff team 23-8. The Navy team earned a much needed break and received a lawful order to head to Lampost Pizza for rest and refreshments. LASD Slaps would now need to battle their way back in the losers bracket.

The losers bracket meant that all teams had one loss, if they were to lose again, it was a pack your trash and hit the road scenario. Each win meant that team continued forward momentum and was one game closer to earning another shot at the Championship.

The lower bracket opened up on Field #1 with MCLB Barstow Fire edging out Unlawful Assembly with an 8-5 win. Barstow Fire moves on, while Unlawful Assembly lives to fight another day. Over on field #3 the P.D. team of Culver City Chaos was duking it out, in an all out bar fight with USMC First 2 Fight. This was a solid back and forth boat race, with the Jarheads from Camp Pendleton getting in a few last inning punches, with a final score of 20-17. First 2 Fight moved on and continued to fight against LASD Slaps, whom they had lost to earlier in the upper bracket. The LASD team lost some players due to injuries and others were limping onto the field. They were running purely on fumes when they threw in the towel, giving the 7-6 victors to the Fightin Marines from Oceanside. The other semi-final game of the lower bracket had RSO Force squaring up with MCLB Barstow Fire for the third time of the day. These two teams were very evenly matched and the game could truly go either way whenever these teams face each other. In yet another photo finish ending, RSO Force slipped by Barstow Fire 10-9. No need for Barstow Fire to hang their heads as they slugged it out all day long with everyone they faced.

RSO was now in the final lower bracket game with USMC First 2 Fight to see which team earned another shot at the title. RSO got hot when it counted most and the bats of the young Marines went cold at times of opportunity, leaving runners on base, and ending the inning with fewer runs than they could have had. When the umpire yelled “Ballgame” it was RSO Force that forced their will upon the Leathernecks 19-9, RSO moves into the finals.

The Championship game was set as there were only 2 teams left standing. These two teams were Navy Kirk’s Posse and Riverside County Sheriff team RSO Force. The Posse edged the Force earlier in the day with a 1 run victory. This game would be different as the Force indeed used some Jedi mind tricks and jumped out early and big! The Navy team was playing from behind the 8 ball all game long and never did catch up. RSO sought revenge for that earlier loss and the Force successfully “forced” the “if” game with a 28-20 final count.

With each of these two teams having a beaten the other, they faced off for the third and final time to see who would be crowned the 2021 Best in the West Guns & Hoses Tournament of Champions Kings!

Lets get ready to rumble! This game was witness to some absolutely spectacular defense on both sides coupled with explosive offense. This was truly an epic back and forth battle from start to finish as these two teams matched up very, very evenly. When dust settled in this epic all out back and forth slugfest Heavyweight Title fight, the umpire on Field #4 screamed “Ballgame!” and it was Navy Kirk’s Posse that had again threaded the needle with a 24-23 victory over RSO Force!

Congratulations to Navy Kirk’s Posse out of San Diego for battling it out all day long and claiming the 2021 Guns & Hoses Softball Tournament of Champions Title!

As always, Guns & Hoses would like to extend our most sincere gratitude and appreciation to all the teams, players, families, and fans whom attended this year’s Tournament of Champions as well as the entire 2021 season. The shutdowns hit everyone hard and thus we are re-building our Tournament series. We are continually striving to improve the G & H experience with new and unique ideas that make Guns & Hoses the best Public Safety Softball Tournament organization series anywhere. Guns & Hoses Softball was the first comprehensive Public Safety organization in the nation to bring all agencies under one umbrella to battle it out. We began this journey back in 2005 and we will continue on into 2022. We look forward to seeing all the usual suspects, and all the new teams that are forming and re-organizing for the March Madness season opener in March of 2022! Thank you

- Team G & H

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