About 30 minutes after the Seattle Studs won the NBC World Series, pitcher David Benson posed for a picture on the mound at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Good memories, ones that will replace the bitter ones from 2010 and 2012. The Studs and Benson waited a year for another shot at the NBC World Series title. It was worth the wait.
Seattle, three times a runner-up, won its first NBC title with a 5-1 victory over the Wellington Heat on Saturday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Benson, knocked out early in last summers loss to Santa Barbara (Calif.) in the title game, held the Heat to four hits.
Ive been here before and I wasnt going to let us lose it, Benson said. Timely hitting. No errors tonight. Its just a spectacular group of guys.
The Studs finished second in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Benson, who took the loss in 2010 as a reliever, started the 2012 game on two days rest and didnt make it out of the second inning. On regular rest, Benson shut down the Heat and earned MVP honors after striking out four and walking one. The Studs marched through the NBC unbeaten in six games and the Heat (5-2) would have needed to win twice on Saturday.
Its a lot of weight off the shoulders to finally get it done, he said. Going into the game, you try to forget about the past losses and just worry about now.
In a tournament dominated by pitching and singles, Seattle busted the trend with extra-base hits. Bobby LeCount homered to left on a 3-2 pitch in the second inning. Yusuki Akitoshi doubled with two outs and scored on Matt Beckers single to left. With Benson baffling the Heat with his location and variety, that lead stood up easily.
Benson, with the Studs since 2008 after pitching at Virginia Commonwealth, moved his fastball around in the strike zone and kept hitters off balance with his changeup and curveball. He rarely allowed the Heat to put the ball in the air and his fielders gobbled up ground balls.
Mixing speeds, up and down, Wellington center fielder Aaron Siple said. You could tell hes been here before, because he really wasnt rattled.
Benson gave up a first-inning single and then retired 11 straight batters. After Nick Billinger singled with one out in the fifth, Benson got a foul ball and a groundball to first baseman LeCount to strand Billinger at second. That started a streak of seven retired batters in a row. After a single by Tony Piazza with two outs in the seventh, Benson sat down the next six batters.
Catcher Garrett Breda, in his sixth NBC trip with the Studs, counted on a solid effort from Benson.
Everything was working for him, and you saw that on the scoreboard tonight, Breda said. I dont think they got comfortable in the box at all. He kept them guessing.
In the ninth, a two-out walk and a double by Robbie Rea ruined the shutout and produced a conference on the mound while relievers sprinted from the dugout to the bullpen.
Benson got his final groundball of the evening and LeCount stretched to pull in a long throw from third baseman Kyle Boe to end the game. The Studs dogpiled on Benson near home to start the celebration. They saluted their fans, tugged on white championship T-shirts and gave manager Barry Aden a sports drink bath. Team owner Elisa Thomases, who keeps stats and cheers in the pressbox, donned a shirt over her Studs jersey and traded hugs and high fives with the players.
We always have good runs and weve come up short a couple times, Breda said. This is an amazing feeling.
Benson enjoyed a lead and the Studs kept him comfortable by adding on.
They pushed their lead to 3-0 in the sixth. Ty Holm singled to start the inning. With two outs, Boe stroked a single to right to score Holm from second.
Heat starter Brady Bowen never recovered from the shaky sixth inning. He opened the seventh by walking Breda. Matt Beckers single produced a trip to the mound, but the Heat stuck with Bowen. Connor Savage bunted toward third and Bowen hustled after the ball. He looked at third and dropped the ball, loading the bases and ending his night.
Reliever Brandon McMillan hit Brian Corliss with his first pitch to force in a run and put Seattle up 4-0. Holm fouled out deep into the foul territory in left, allowing Becker to tag up and score for a 5-0 lead.
Worth noting Catcher Ty Redington of the Kansas Cannons was named the Outstanding Local Player. He also earned the Just Block It Catcher Award. Santa Barbara pitcher Parker French, who struck out 13 in 12 innings and compiled a 2.25 ERA, was named the Leading Prospect Clardina (Iowa) third baseman Dean Long hit .579 to lead the tournament. Liberals Jason Dahl hit one home run with an .824 slugging percentage to win the Home Run Award. No player hit more than one home run El Dorado won eight games in the tournament, one behind the record set by champions Prairie Gravel (Ill.) in 2005 and Chinese Taipei (2003) Seattle earned $19,000 for the championship and Wellington gets $13,000.