COLDWATER — The scenario was simple for the Quincy All Stars heading into Wednesday night at the Branch County Fair Youth Baseball Tournament. Win against a very good Union City Charger team, the trophy is yours. Now, if Union City were to in fact win, well then all sorts of scenarios were plausible, especially with Coldwater winning earlier in the night. With a Charger win there would be a three way tie atop the standings, meaning the championship would head to a tiebreaker. Quincy made sure that did not need to happen however, playing fundamentally sound baseball on their way to a clutch 6-4 win over the scrappy Chargers as Quincy finished the Branch County Fair Baseball Tournament unbeaten at 3-0, winning the championship in the process .
“It’s always nice to win (a championship) but the entire purpose behind us starting this program (The Village/QBSA) was to develop the youth, emphasize the fundamentals of the game, and teach the kids how to handle adversity and become solid young but,” Quincy co-head coach Joey Wright said. “The key to our success is the kids buying into the team philosophy, sticking to basic fundamentals, and doing whatever to help your teammates. We take that family family philosophy seriously, hence the name ‘The Village’, because it takes a village.”
Behind that philosophy the Quincy All Star team, made up of members of the travel team from Quincy called The Village, along with members of the Quincy Baseball and Softball Association (QBSA), put together a dominant summer, chocked full of championships, trophies and memories, all of which were capped off Wednesday with their win at the Branch County Fair.
Union City did not make things easy at all for the eventual champions however, and it all started in the first inning with the long ball.
After the first two Charger batters quickly found their way on to the base paths, big Tucker Zweng strode to the plate looking to make an early impression. On a 2-2 count Zweng did just that, blasting a fly ball deep towards the ferris wheel in centerfield. The shot easily cleared the fence in the deepest part of the ball park, giving Union City what appeared to be a quick 3-0 lead. A keen eye by both the Quincy coaching staff and the umpire however saw that Zweng, in all the excitement of his big home run, did not touch home plate before leaving the field of play, meaning the two base runners counted as scoring but Zweng himself was called out, giving Union City instead a 2-0 lead and one out.
The Charger offense did not appear to be done just yet, quickly loading the bases with only one out. The Quincy defense buckled down however and kept the damage to a minimum, with the Chargers taking that 2-0 lead after their half of the first inning.
Quincy answered right back in their part of the first inning, plating four big runs to take early control of the contest. Joe Gray started off the Quincy attack with a double to right field and was brought home on an RBI single from JJ Wright, closing the score to 2-1. One batter later Quincy took the lead thanks to a home run of their own, however their round tripper came of the “inside the park” variety. Bryson Estlow hit a hard shot to deep centerfield and as Wright coasted in to score Estlow got on his horse and motored around the bases. Thanks to his tremendous hustle Estlow was able to score on the play for an inside the park home run, giving Quincy the 3-2 lead. Quincy wasn’t done just yet, taking advantage of back-to-back fielding errors from the Chargers and a misplay in the outfield, all of which allowed Kale Dirschell to score, giving Quincy the 4-2 lead after one full inning of play .
Union City was quick to get back on the board in the second inning and they again went to the long ball to do it. The Charger leadoff man, Dyson Stadel, packed the big stick for Wednesday’s game, hitting a deep blast to left field for a one out solo home run, closing the lead to just 4-3 in the second inning. The Charger attack wasn’t done just yet as the next batter, Nolan Chard, reached base via an infield single for Union City and proceeded to move around to third thanks to a pair of passed balls, quickly putting another runner in scoring position. Zweng again came through at the plate, hitting a hard ground ball to third base which was mishandled, allowing Chard to score, tying the game up at 4-4. Again the Quincy defense buckled down and began to play fundamental baseball again, getting out of a big jam with two runners in scoring position with an infield fly out, keeping the game tied at 4-4 after the top of the second inning.
Quincy wasted little time retaking the lead, doing so with two outs in the bottom of the second inning. With two down Benny Travelbee doubled on a deep fly ball to right field, quickly putting a man in scoring position. Wright then hit a hard ground ball to second base which in turn led to an error, allowing Travelbee to score, giving Quincy the 5-4 advantage.
Both teams would then settle into a defensive groove, as neither squad could seem to get any offensive flow going.
Union City’s best scoring chance came in the fifth inning when they put runners on second and third with only one out. Quincy’s defense again came through big with a strikeout and a fly ball to first base, keeping the game at a one run affair.
Quincy added one more insurance run in the bottom of the fifth inning, an inning that started with a Carson Craven walk. After a passed ball moved Craven to second base, a Seth VanStelle fielder’s choice moved Craven to third with only one out. Craven eventually came home thanks to a Luke Clancy RBI single to left field, extending the Quincy lead to 6-4 after five full innings.
Union City had one more chance in the top of the sixth inning as they faced new Quincy pitcher Seth VanStelle. One runner would reach via a hit by pitch, however VanStelle fanned three Charger batters in the top of the sixth inning, earning the save and preserving the 6-4 championship victory for Quincy.
Matthew Taylor picked up the win on the mound for Quincy after throwing an inning in relief, allowing no hits or runs with one walk and one strikeout. Seth VanStelle picked up the save for Quincy after throwing two innings in relief, allowing no hits or runs with one walk and five strikeouts.
JJ Wright started for Quincy, throwing three full innings while allowing four hits and four runs with six walks and four strikeouts.
Bryson Estlow brought the big bat for Quincy, going 1 for 2 with an inside the park home run, a walk, two RBIs and a run scored. JJ Wright also had a big game at the plate, finishing 2 for 3 with two singles, an RBI and a run scored.
Also adding to the Quincy effort was Joe Gray with a double, a walk and a run scored; Benny Travelbee with a double, a walk, and a run scored; Kale Dirschell with a run scored; Carson Craven with a single, a walk and a run scored; Seth VanStelle with a single; and Luke Clancy with a single and an RBI.
Tucker Zweng took the tough loss on the mound for Union City after throwing three innings in relief, allowing three hits and one run with four walks and nine strikeouts. Logan Miller made the start on the mound for Union City, throwing one full inning while allowing four hits and four runs, three earned, with one strikeout. Nolan Chard finished the game on the mound for the Chargers, throwing one inning, allowing one hit and one run with two walks and two strikeouts.
Leading the Union City offensive effort was Tucker Zweng who finished 1 for 2 with a home run, two RBIs, one walk and one run scored. Dyson Stadel also had a big game at the plate, going 2 for 4 with a single and a home run, one RBI and a run scored.
Also adding to the Union City effort was Nolan Chard with two singles and two runs scored; Logan Miller with a walk; Drake Laird with two walks; Dalton Stadel with a walk; Jackson Dadow with a walk; and Hudson Connell with two walks.
With the loss Union City finishes the Branch County Fair Tournament in third place with a record of 1-2 overall.
With the win Quincy finishes the tournament unbeaten at 3-0, claiming the championship of the Branch County Fair Youth Baseball Tournament.
“I mentioned at the end of the game the amount of talent in this tournament and it’s great to see baseball alive and well in Branch County,” said Wright. “It’s awesome to see all the support from not only the families but the community as well, coming together to put this on for the youth. There is a lot of tradition in this tournament and the field and facilities look better than I remember it being from way back. It’s always cool to watch your own son (JJ Wright) get to experience something you did as a young boy yourself.”
Memories such as those will continue and even expand in the coming years as plans have been made to make the Branch County Fair tournament even bigger. Already approved for next year will not only be two baseball divisions, a 12U and 10U tournament, but there will also be a newly formed girls softball tournament for 12U and 10U divisions for teams from across Branch County. Organizers are also in the planning stages of expanding the tournament to include any team in Branch County who may want to compete, putting together possible sites for playing in games to make a true Branch County Championship. Stay tuned for updates on those developments as they become available.
Those plans are still in the future however, so as of right now, here in 2022, the Quincy All Stars are the one and only Branch County Fair Youth Baseball Champions. Congratulations to the Quincy 12U All Stars, Branch County Fair Youth Baseball Champions.