Fuelmen Deliver in Softball Playoffs

Bubbly filled the air following the Fuelmen’s rout of Stephen Hand’s Equipment last Thursday to win the final series three games to one. Jack Graves

    “Twelve damn years!” Vinnie Alversa, Schenck Fuels’ player-manager, was heard to say before kissing the East Hampton Town men’s slow-pitch softball league’s 2011 playoff trophy after he and his teammates, a number of whom had won regional amateur baseball championships under the East End Tigers banner, had overpowered Stephen Hand’s Equipment 31-6 at the Terry King ball field in Amagansett last Thursday.
    While that night marked the first playoff trophy celebration by the modern-day Fuelmen, who in their time have often been playoff contenders but never champions, earlier that evening Bostwick’s hailed its sixth straight playoff championship in the women’s league, routing Men at Work 24-2 in a game contested by pared-down lineups of eight.
    Understandably, Bostwick’s players, in whose number were five (Susie Warner, Jeannie Bunce, Jeanie Berkoski, Lori Schultz, and Barbara Schultz) who have won 16 slow-pitch championships under four sponsors in the past 26 years, were somewhat less giddy than the champagne-spraying men after their game; it was nevertheless evident that for them the joy of victory remains undiminished.
    Moreover, the sixth straight championship was a record for the above-mentioned five, who heretofore had thrice won five straight titles. Peter Carman has managed them through this latest skein — the first two years as Cangiolosi’s and the past four as Bostwick’s.
    Men at Work, which, when the season began, looked to have a lineup of young athletes — among them Kathryn Mirras, Kaylie Titus, Marta Johann, Willa Johann, Jenn Reich, and Maysie Makrianes — capable of giving Bostwick’s a good go, was rarely availed of the services of all of them at the same time. Nevertheless, Ed Johann, who coaches the team, said he was pleased that Men at Work, the playoffs’ third seed, had wound up as the runner-up.
    Back to the men, the first two games of the best-of-five final were nip and tuck, with Schenck’s prevailing 23-22 in the first and Stephen Hand’s edging the Fuelmen 14-13 in the second.
    Then Schenck’s players got pumped up, to put it mildly.
    “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like what they did last night,” Ray Wojtusiak, Stephen Hand’s player-manager, said before last Thursday’s game began.
    He was referring to the Fuelmen’s 15-home run onslaught of the night before, which had earned them a 31-16 victory and a 2-1 series lead.
    “It wasn’t that we did poorly — we scored 16 runs, and we were even winning 14-10 in the fourth, but. . . .”
    Asked for the home run list, Rich Tuthill, Schenck’s manager, who played on the last Schenck team to win a playoff championship, in 1989, said his son, Andy, had hit five of them in five at-bats (presumably a career high), that Ethan King, Brendan Fennell, and Mike Rodriguez had each hit two, and that Frank Quevedo, Adam Gledhill, Alversa, and Jerry Uribe had each hit one. Moreover, Alversa’s tater and one of King’s were grand slams.
    Paul Thorsen, who had been unloaded upon by the Fuelmen in game three, was replaced on the mound by Paul (Pee Wee) Davis in game four, but Davis, and Rick White, who followed him in the top of the fourth inning, fared no better as the Fuelmen took up where they’d left off, scoring six runs in the top of the first, five in the second, seven in the third, and 13 in the fourth.
    The home run derby, which came to an end after four innings because the mercy rule was invoked, included three by Alversa, two each by Uribe, Quevedo, and Rodriguez, and one each by Gledhill and Ethan King.
    The Fuelmen upped their already outsize 18-5 lead to 30-5 before an out was recorded in the top of the fourth. Garret King led off with a single, and Alex Dalene and Ethan King followed suit, Ethan King’s hit driving in his brother. Quevedo reached on a throwing error by Stephen Hand’s shortstop, Rocky Notel, loading the bases for Gledhill, who was walked, upping the lead to 20-5.
    That brought up Tuthill, who drew an intentional pass, as did Alversa. With the bases still loaded and the score 22-5, Fennell drove a two-run double to the fence in right, and Uribe, whose homer in the second was said to have gone into orbit, walked, loading the bases for Rodriguez, who quickly cleared them with his aforementioned grand salami.
    Will Collins reached on an infield error, and Garret King, making his second appearance at the plate that inning, singled again. Doug Dickson, the pitcher, drove a fly to the fence, which Joe Sullivan, the center fielder, dropped, after which Ethan King drove in the Fuelmen’s 29th run with a single.
    Chris O’Connor, batting for Quevedo, singled in another, and Gledhill made the inning’s first out when his fly, accounting for Schenck’s 31st, and last, run of the game, was caught. Tuthill’s subsequent bid for a three-run homer was caught at the fence, after which Alversa’s fielder’s choice grounder to second brought the mammoth inning to an end.
    Chris Pfund touched Dickson for a home run in leading off Stephen Hand’s half of the inning, but three short-to-first groundouts completed the rout, and in short order Dickson disappeared under a pile of joyous teammates.