As it has been since it was formed in 2010, the Gene Bennett Baseball Classic was once again a huge success. The annual tournament that showcases some of the best amateur baseball talent recently concluded it’s seventh happening. After the final out was recorded, famed travel ball team, the Ohio Warhawks, were crowned as the 2016 Gene Bennett Baseball Classic Champions.
The Ohio Warhawks defeated the Louisville Elite to claim the 2016 title.
“It ended up being 6-1,” Gene Bennett Classic and Shawnee State University baseball coach Chris Moore said. “I believe this was the second time they’ve won the tournament.”
The Warhawks came out on top as 18 amateur baseball teams converged on the southern Ohio area, for the extended weekend tournament, that took place from Thursday, June 9 through Sunday, June 12, 2016, including a newly reformed Portsmouth Post 23 legion-ball team.
Beautiful weather held throughout the weekend, which allowed for a tremendous turnout for spectators.
“We were a little bit better than we’ve been in the past,” Moore said. “The attendance was pretty good over the course of the weekend and the weather was good all weekend, so that was a big help.”
As is the goal with every year the classic is held, Moore said the level of play and the quality of talent that participated in this year’s tournament improved from the previous year.
“We’re getting better and better players that are continuing to come into southern Ohio for at least one weekend a year,” Moore said. “Judging by the players we had in the past, if you were at the Gene Bennett Classic, you saw some future college and future professional players.”
Attracting future college greats and professional baseball players was one of the main founding principles of the tournament. Honoring the legendary Cincinnati Reds scout, Gene Bennett, the tournament carrying his name fills a vision he had for the area, to bring the top amateur talent into the area.
“Gene’s vision to bring top-flight amateur baseball to Scioto County and southern Ohio, I think has continued to be realized,” Moore said. “From that standpoint, I think it was a huge success.”
The classic has no problem attracting the top-flight talent either, as Moore said they always receive positive feedback from the coaches and players. The teams love the fields they play on because they are finely manicured as well as the un-rushed style of the tournament.
As the 2016 classic recently ended, the 2017 classic is already in the planning stages.
“We have a meeting coming up next week to work on what we want to do, what it’s going to look like moving forward and when we’re going to have it,” Moore said. “I hope everyone that came out this year left happy and come back again next year.”
The Ohio Warhawks celebrate their 2016 Gene Bennett Classic win by posing with their tournament trophy, as well as Gene Bennett and Al Oliver, Sunday, June 12, 2016 at Branch Rickey Park in Portsmouth, Ohio.
During the championship game, the Ohio Warhawks catcher gets a tag on a leaping Louisville Elite runner at home plate, Sunday, June 12, 2016 at Branch Rickey Park in Portsmouth, Ohio.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.