The Recreation Division of the 2019 Men’s Masters 35 National Tournament in Mandan was full of surprises. Some of the event’s heavyweights were bounced early, leaving the championship wide open. That allowed one contestant to survive and advance through four potential elimination games and set up a winner-take-all rematch that would take well over two hours to complete due to a weather delay. Ultimately, Valley City Elliott Farms/Mikkelsen Farms’ lengthy run through the losers bracket would end with a national championship.
Elliott Farms’ weekend started quietly enough with a win over Precision Plumbing, Heating & Cooling/Valley Reconditioning by the slimmest of margins, 15-14. They would then send one of the favorites, Bowers Excavating, to the loser’s bracket with a 26-17 victory. Bowers would join another favorite, Krahler’s Softball, and the two-time defending champion, Miller Lite, with early losses.
Elliott Farms would soon join them, however, after dropping their next contest to Circle Sanitation by a 14-3 decision. The long road back began, ironically, with Miller Lite. Elliott stunned them early to take a 9-0 leadthrough 4 and held on for the 11-6 win. Their reward? A chance for Bowers to turn the table from their earlier matchup. Elliott would prevail once again, though, in another fairly low scoring game (10-6) to get them just one more game away from that rematch in the championship game. They would reach that game with ease, moving on with a 17-7 victory over the Ransom County Buzzards.
Circle Sanitation was up to the challenge with the title on the line, but Elliott Farms found the offensive spark that was missing in their first matchup a day earlier. The Valley City squad would win a thriller 19-18 to force the “if” game. In the rubber match, Elliott Farms edged closer and closer to the championship, eventually taking a 16-9 lead in the 6th when dark clouds moved in and sirens went off throughout the complex. Nearby lightning strikes and the threat of rain would for a series of 30 minute delays. Any momentum that Elliott had had before the break did not shift to their opponents. Circle Sanitation would manage just one more run after play resumed and Elliott Farms/Mikkelsen Drywall would earn their national title.
Mark Ouellette was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.