Tournament Review Articles

TOC 2023 - Tourney Recap

Public Safety Teams Battled It Out For Guns & Hoses Glory at the 2023 Season Grand Finale “Best-In-The-West Tournament of Champions!”

On October 1st, the 2023 Guns & Hoses Softball season finished up with the usual competitive camaraderie, close battles, and tight scores. This year’s Blind Draw-Double Elimination TOC was held at Mile Square Park, in Fountain Valley, CA, under “almost” perfect softball weather. The day started off with overcast and cool temps, but then a rain cloud suddenly dumped on the fields for about 15 minutes, and all teams cleared the diamonds for a 45 minute rain delay. When the clouds cleared, the sun popped out, the fields dried quickly, and the temps remained in the mid-70’s for the remainder of this season ending event. This season Grand Finale “Clash of the Titans” would decide which team would be crowned the 2023 TOC Champions and forever enshrined upon the big custom perpetual G & H TOC Trophy!

Despite the rain delay, the G & H atmosphere was its usual self, with the eclectic mix of absolutely bad-ass music of all genres, including, Classic Rock, Hip-Hop, Country, 80’s, 90’s, and Blues tunes being bumped over the Big speakers by “DJ Easy J”. In addition to the great music mix, the Official G&H Massage girls were on site, representing a local OC massage therapy school. They stayed for the entire duration to work on the players old softball war wounds, and to help stretch the tight muscles, to ensure the First Responders were able to return to work on Monday morning. The vibe was enhanced all the more by the folks at the snack bar, rollin delicious made to order breakfast burritos, and grilling up burgers & dogs all day long while the Public Safety Ballers battled it out on the ball fields. A special shout out to Lampost Pizza for being the during, and after tournament party spot. Lampost provided great discounts on food and beverages to G&H players all day long and had all the NFL games going on the big screens throughout the restaurant.

The TOC tournament teams engaged in battle in this unique “Blind Draw’ event. This is the one and only G & H tournament of each season where bracket placement is decided with blind draw envelopes instead of the usual pool play record. No matter what your pool play record was, all teams qualified for the Double-Elimination brackets. After the two “warm up” games of pool play concluded, each Team Captain made their way to the Tournament Directors table and selected a sealed envelope, for their team’s placement upon the Double-Elimination brackets. This style of bracket placement literally meant it all came down to “luck of the draw”. This made things very interesting and very unpredictable once bracket play started.

The pool play games appeared as though this would be a very, very evenly matched event and any team could go all the way. After pool play concluded, almost all teams were 1-1, except for team “Pickles”, whom played their first two games with only 8 players, and thus started off 0-2. LASD MCJ Red appeared the favorite after being the only team to go 2-0 during pool play. But pool play doesn’t determine the Champions at the end of the day, so there was a lot of tournament still to be played, and once the brackets begin, it’s a get down to business or pack your trash and hit the road Jack scenario!

POOL PLAY RECORDS were as follows:

2-0 LASD MCJ Red
1-1 Torrance Fire
1-1 Local 47 Storm
1-1 Unlawful Assembly
1-1 CDCR Cali Bombers
1-1 CBP Portrunners
1-1 USMC Double Tap
0-2 Pickles

Once pool play concluded, all teams selected a blind draw envelope for placement on the Double Elimination brackets. The opening round of the winner’s bracket was witness to all teams facing each other for the first time this day, (except for) CDCR Cali Bombers and USMC Double Tap had randomly selected to face off in the first game of bracket play against each other. This was a re-match of an earlier pool game, in which these very familiar foes locked horns. In pool play, Double Tap topped the Bombers. But that was ancient history, and this game was significantly more important, as a loss here meant being bumped to the “losers” portion of the bracket, and a long day of softball battles to earn a shot at the TOC Title. Over on Field #2, CBP Portrunners faced off against the Cop-combo & and prior military contingency of team Pickles. The Border Guards edged out Pickles in a close one, 21-16, Portrunners advance to the next round. The only undefeated team of pool play LASD MCJ Red squared off against the always tough, but unpredictable Local 47 Storm. The LA County Sheriff team continued their winning ways and remained undefeated on the day by quieting the Storm and securing a 17-9 victory. LASD MCJ Red advances in the winner’s bracket, while the Storm was bumped down to the losers half of the tournament. The final game of the opening round was the most exciting by far, as the lone Firefighter team, Torrance Fire, went toe to toe with the police team of Unlawful Assembly, hailing mostly from Garden Grove PD. This was a back and forth boat race to the finish line, that ended all locked up 16-16 at the end of regulation. This meant that “Official G & H Sudden Death Overtime Rules” would come into effect. Visiting team Unlawful Assembly loaded the bases (with 2 outs). This is truly a “Do or Die” scenario in that the next batter up will either get a hit and score some runs, or make that third out. The police team came through and scored some runs with two outs, highlighted by team Captain Nick Jensen hitting a bases loaded triple to the fence, into the right center field gap. Unlawful Assembly scored 6 runs before making that third out. Now it was the Firemen of Torrance City Fire to light an uncontrollable blaze and burn this Motha down! They loaded the bases with two outs, and their very first batter came to the plate and promptly popped up with a foul ball near the backstop. The catcher for Unlawful Assembly trotted back and caught the can of corn to extinguish the winners bracket hopes of the Torrance Firefighters. Final count 22-16 Unlawful Assembly moves on in the winner’s bracket.

The semi-final match ups of the winner’s bracket had two epic battles take place. Field #2 had the Border Patrol Team Portrunners go nose to nose with the LA County Sheriff jailers of MCJ Red. The Sheriff team was the only team still undefeated on this day, but this did not intimidate the CBP team. As the teams duked it out over the innings, the Portrunners were able to hand LASD MCJ Red their first loss of the day and bump them into the loser’s bracket 21-11, Portrunners advance to the winner’s bracket finals. Over on Field #4 the other semi-final showdown pitted the Cop-combo of Unlawful Assembly against the Prison Guards from Calipatria, known as the Bombers. This was anyone’s game to win as these two teams appeared very evenly matched talent-wise. The advantage had to go to the Bombers though, as they have been out to almost all G & H events this season, while Unlawful Assembly was making their first appearance and came out a little rusty to open the tournament. Well, the game proved that Unlawful Assembly has some more dust to shake off as they were outscored 25-16, as the Bombers moved into the winners bracket championship, and Unlawful Assembly were sent to battle it out on the bottom portion of the double-elimination brackets.

As the two remaining teams in the winners portion of the brackets received some much needed break time, the rest of the teams battled down below for a final chance at the title. With all the rest of the teams now having one loss, the next loss meant, pack you gear, drive safely home, and we’ll see you at the season opener in 2024!

First round of the losers/lower portion of the brackets was witness to a couple of familiar opponents in G & H events, whom were set to punch it out. The most streaky team one will find at G&H is that of Local 47 Storm. If they have all their usual suspects, they are hard to beat, but today they were trying out some hired guns. The Police & Military Combo squad of the mean, green Pickles were also playing without a couple of their regular gunslingers, so this one was a coin toss! They threw jabs at each other and friendly barbs, but when the dust settled, it was Pickles that weathered the Storm 21-10. Pickles moves on, and Local 47 Storm will re-group for 2024! The second game of the lower bracket was a heart-breaker for the G&H Tournament Director as it had the only Firefighter team facing off against the only Military team. This meant that the loser of this game packs their bags and lives to fight another day. The Fire team had showed they are capable of scoring a lot of runs when they are “on fire”, but this game showed that the young Leathernecks of Camp Pendleton had their players positioned correctly on defense and were thus able to extinguish the heat of Torrance Fire, by holding them to only 7 runs. The Firefighters ran out of fuel during this game as the final score was 17-7, USMC team Double Tap moves on.

The next round of the loser’s bracket saw four teams get at it, and again, two teams would unfortunately be exiting, stage left. First up, were two Orange County Police combo teams, about to square off, when the team Captain of Unlawful Assembly unfortunately had to approach the Tournament Director and announce that he had lost two players to swing shift staffing, and would have to forfeit the game, this meant that the veterans from team Pickles would again advance another round. The other game of this round had LASD MCJ Red standing toe to toe with USMC Double Tap. Again, a loss meant you were done for the day. This was each team’s fifth game of the day, so it came down to who had the stamina to keep it rolling. The answer to that question was quickly discovered as it became apparent MCJ Red ran out of steam early on and only plated 4 runs, which was no match for the Marines crossing the dish 19 times.

USMC Double Tap moved on to play their 6th game of the day against the cagey old veterans representing team Pickles. The Pickles appeared to be crisp to start the game, but quickly softened and eventually the Pickles were snapped by the young guns from Oceanside, CA, as the Marines secured the victory 28-11

The winners bracket finals was a match-up that would be decided by a razors edge, as the border guards of CBP Portrunners tussled with the Prison Guards of CDCR Cali Bombers. This was the first game of the day that the Portrunners came up shy of a double-digit run count. Cali Bombers bested the Portrunners 16-9 to be the one and only team to make it through the winner’s brackets.

This loss sent the Portrunners to the loser’s bracket final to see if they could win, and get a second shot at the Bombers. The Portrunners would play a team that had battled all the way through the loser’s bracket, with hopes of also getting another shot at the team that sent them into the lower half, that’s right , the Cali Bombers. The Marines were playing their 7th game of the day. Both of these teams wanted another shot at the Bombers, but would have to go through each other first. Portrunners looked poised to answer the call quickly and confidently by taking a 13 run lead early. But the “Never say die” Marines continued to battle into the late innings and found a way to slip past the Border guards on their way to a final inning victory of 20-16!

Only two teams now remained in the tournament, and the Bombers were the winner’s bracket champs, which meant they would need to be double dipped. Did the Fightin Leathernecks hailing from Camp Pendleton have enough ammo left to win two more games? The Cali Bombers had no intention of playing two more games and wanted to crush the hopes of the young Marines in one and final decisive game. Double Tap, now playing their 8th game of the day got off to an early lead, but the Bombers also have a never quit attitude, and made a run towards the end of regulation, but fell just short in the end as the Marines crossed the plate 20 times compared to the Bombers 17 times. This victory forced the “if” game. The Bombers lost that last game by only 4 runs, and were not about to let that happen again. This time the Bombers jumped out to a 10-0 lead after the first inning. They plated some additional runs throughout the game, but it was not enough in total as the mad-dog Marines broke off their chain and plated “19 runs” in one inning midway through the game! These 19 runs showed insurmountable as the umpire yelled “Ballgame”, it was USMC Double Tap victorious in their 9th game of the day 30-17 over their rival CDCR Bombers, to earn the “W” on this day!

USMC Double Tap certainly got their money’s worth, as they played 9 games on the day, and in the end they battled hard, never gave up, and eventually were crowned the Kings of the 2023 Guns & Hoses Softball Best-In-The-West Tournament of Champions at Mile Square Park in Orange County, CA. We also thank USMC Double Tap for being respectful and gracious during their run to earning the Championship.

USMC Double Tap 10 23 smFor the victory, Double Tap earned the coveted G&H “Grim Reaper TOC Champions” shirts, XXL bottles of a variety of liquor to include, Whiskey, Rum, Vodka, and Tequila’s, custom sublimated team jerseys, and most importantly, their team name will be forever enshrined on the big perpetual G&H TOC Champions Trophy, along with bragging rights for an entire year, leading up to the 2024 TOC!

As always, we at 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 2023 season. 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 Series anywhere. We look forward to seeing all the usual suspects and all the new teams that are forming and re-organizing for the 2024 season opener “March Madness Saint Paddy’s Party”. Full 2024 season schedule coming soon!

– Team G & H

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