Baseball & Softball are American staples, and many people of all ages find joy in joining teams and playing against neighbors in friendly matchups. SAE is no stranger to these types of events, as just about every chapter has an intramural team or a college athlete as a member. Yet, one group of SAE alumni and actives have taken this concept to a grander scale, and in doing so has found a fine tradition not just for alumni associations but also for collegiate chapters. They call it the SAE World Series!
Each June in New Orleans, a group of brothers of all ages gather together to play America’s game underneath the hot Louisiana sun. The World Series has taken place annually since 1986, and from its humble beginnings, it has grown into an event that draws SAE actives and alumni from across the United States. Organized by the New Orleans SAE Alumni Association, this event is a two-day tournament featuring teams made up of current actives, recent alumni, and much older alumni decades removed from their time in the chapter. Teams are free to organize themselves as they see fit, with some teams mixing alumni of different chapters and others mixing actives and recent alumni. Yet, many chapters take pride in designating teams from within their membership and going out there trying to win it all. Regardless, all players are SAE’s, either currently or previously, and it becomes a brotherhood event on the largest scale. People network, build friendships, share ideas, and maybe share a laugh with a beer in hand. It has become quite a competitive and lively event and continues to grow and expand following weaker attendance during COVID-19.
This past June, The 37th Annual SAE World Series was successfully held in New Orleans on Friday and Saturday, June 10th and 11th. Twelve teams participated in the double-elimination softball tournament, with each game lasting 7 innings. As the sun rose on Friday the 10th, threatening rain clouds and distant thunderclaps loomed overhead all morning. Around 10 am, these clouds unleashed a deluge that left roughly five inches of water on the softball fields. Rumors began swirling about a possible rain out of the SAE World Series, a surely disappointing turn of events. These rumors however turned out to be false, as the goddess Minerva ended the rain midday and delivered the sun to dry out the fields. The games would be wet and muddy, but the games would go on!
The Series began with a dedication to the memory of Dr. Val Earhart and Joe Burciaga. Dr. Earhart was a previous president of the New Orleans SAE Alumni Association and a longtime supporter of the event. Joe Burciaga was a member of the University of South Florida SAE Alumni team that has consistently attended the event for decades. Both brothers passed away over the last year and will be greatly missed by the SAE World Series and everyone that knew them. The local Tulane chapter had the honors of leading everyone in singing the national anthem and Dr. Earhart’s daughters had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch after a moment of silence for both Dr. Earhart and Joe Burciaga.
Softball play began at 6 pm with a pesky Millsaps active team shutting out the Tulane actives 13-0 in game number one. In Joe’s honor, the South Florida team opened play by defeating the New Orleans local alumni team, “Rejects” 16-8. The top four seeded teams received a first-round bye and started playing at 7 pm. The three-time defending champion, “LSU Alums”, opened play by cruising to a 19-2 victory over Millsaps. Across the softball complex, the second-seeded Christian Brothers Alumni team bombed the hometown “Rejects 2” team 17-1 without mercy. The newly formed Louisiana Epsilon Alumni Association team delivered the same 17-1 bombing score to the LSU active chapter. Louisiana Epsilon’s Nick Harris hit five home runs over the 300-foot fence in the victory. The perenially tough Nicholls State active team produced a home run bombing campaign that defeated South Florida 28-9. In the consolation bracket’s elimination games, the LSU actives edged the Rejects 3-0 and then eliminated the Tulane active team 14-0 to stay alive. Tulane’s two losses with a combined score of 27-0 would easily earn them the event’s friendly Last Place Award. Meanwhile, a much improved Millsaps team eliminated South Florida 10-3 late Friday night.
In the winner’s bracket games late Friday night, the defending champs, LSU Alums, found themselves down 8-0 to the Nicholls State team after only three innings. Team captain Matthew Collett was able to rally the defending champs to score seven runs in the fourth and seven more in the fifth innings to lead 14-10 after five innings. Chandler Wynne added a two-run homer in the sixth inning to defeat the Nicholls State team 16-10 in a great come-from-behind victory. In other late-game action, both Eathen Taylor and Bryce Cagle homered multiple times for Christian Brothers as they cruised to a 21-5 victory over the enthusiastic Louisiana Epsilon Alumni Association. With that, games concluded for the night, and the brothers were encouraged to go out together and experience New Orleans together. Many active chapters used this time as a brotherhood event, exploring the city together and further burnishing already established bonds. For some, the destination was as much of the draw as the games themselves!
The games began again at 10 am Saturday in much drier conditions. To open the day, Louisiana Epsilon Alumni Association “Skipper” Brett Sanchez led the team to a 14-4 victory, eliminating the scrappy Millsaps team. Then, in a repeat of the 2021 finals, the defending champs LSU Alums faced the second-seeded Christian Brothers team. Eathen Taylor’s two-run RBI in the top of the first gave Christian Brothers a 2-0 early lead. The LSU Alums scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1 after the first inning. Pitcher Rob Parsons was able to keep the defending champs off balance as Christian Brothers added runs along the way, leading to a 7-1 score after six innings. Christian Brothers would hold onto this lead through the final inning, winning the game 8-2. They would have to then wait for the next challenger in the championship game.
Now on the other side of the bracket, the LSU Alums would now face the Nicholls State team in an elimination game for a chance at redemption, with the winner of this game going on to face Christian Brothers again. The LSU Alums jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first inning and Nicholls State answered with four runs in the second inning to lead 4-3. The LSU Alums fired back with key hits by Chandler Wynne and Matt Collett and led 7-4 after five innings. In the top of the seventh and final inning, Team captain Blake Ougel and the Nicholls State team added three runs to tie the game 7-7. In the bottom of the final inning, Austin North provided the key hit to score the one run needed to give the LSU Alums an 8-7 victory, as well as a rematch with Christian Brothers in the championship game.
A worn-out LSU Alums team would now have to play their third game in a row, as well as need to defeat Christian Brothers twice to repeat as champions. The title game started with Christian Brothers jumping out to a 2-0 lead on a two-run double in the first inning by John Shaw. The next few innings were very defensive as both pitchers kept the bats cold. Christian Brothers added a run in the fourth and the LSU Alums scored a run to make it 3-1 Christian Brothers after five innings. Both teams added a run in the sixth to keep Christian Brothers ahead, 4-2. Christian Brothers pitcher Rob Parsons and shortstop Mason Cagle held the LSU Alums scoreless the rest of the way to preserve a 4-2 Christian Brothers victory and win the 37th SAE World Series, their third SAE World Series title.
The Christian Brothers team was elated, as they had been waiting for this day. Following their consistent participation over the past decade, as well as winning the event in both 2016 and 2018, they were hungry for another and finally brought the trophy back home. Eathen Taylor’s consistent hitting and numerous home runs throughout the tournament earned him the MVP honors for Christian Brothers.
Following the tournament, all participants and teams convened again in downtown New Orleans for the awards banquet, featuring a Cajun home cooking buffet by host committee member Todd Brady. This event was a wonderful opportunity for brothers to share experiences, younger actives to learn from more experienced alumni, as well enjoy a cold drink and a hot meal for all their hard work. The committee gave out a variety of awards, ranging from worst overall team to best, as well as some more comical ones, like the “Spirit” award or “Best Dressed Team” award. All and all, it was a wonderful experience for those that participated and everyone left the event with a galvanized spirit. The only question left unanswered after all the fun: Who will be next year’s champion?
The New Orleans SAE Alumni Association celebrates such a successful event by looking to the future. We welcome all alumni associations, chapters, and friends & family of SAE to find out more about this wonderful event. We hope to see you all there next year for two of America’s greatest pastimes: Brotherhood and Baseball.
Full details can be found at www.saeworldseries.net and on social media (Facebook under SAE World Series”; Twitter @saeworldseries; Instagram @sae_world_series)
Check out some other highlights from this year’s series below!