The CfAR men’s slow-pitch softball team “mercied” the defending town league’s champion, Schenck Fuels, 21-6 on Aug. 1 at the Terry King ball field in Amagansett.
Eight-run outbursts by the insurgents in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings did the Fuelmen in, making a seventh inning unnecessary.
The surprising three-game sweep marked the first playoff championship for Ray Wojtusiak’s team under the CfAR banner, though the player-manager and his teammate Dick White won championships with Bistrian Gravel in 2004, ’05, and ’07, and were runners-up in ’08. Moreover, under the Indian Wells Tavern aegis they were runners-up in ’09, and, under the sponsorship of Stephen Hand’s Equipment (and with pretty much the same lineup), lost in four to Schenck’s in last year’s best-of-five final.
In what proved to be the deciding game of this series, the Fuelmen, with Adam Gledhill and Vinnie Alversa getting the r.b.i., scored two runs in the top of the first inning, after which CfAR began to assert its rights in the bottom half. Singles by Diego Palomo, Tommy Thorsen, Joe Sullivan, and Bill Collins, the latter two driving in runs, and a sacrifice fly accounted for the scoring.
The score was knotted at 5 after four innings, and in the top of the fifth the defending champs made it 6-5 before the floodgates opened.
Wojtusiak singled to lead off CfAR’s fifth, and, after Palomo flied out, Thorsen doubled home Wojtusiak and Sullivan doubled in Thorsen. Bill Collins’s subsequent single scored Sullivan from second. Then Alex Tekulsky, one of three players Wojtusiak had picked up from the late lamented Independent’s team, launched a two-run home run into the parking lot. That made it 10-6, but CfAR wasn’t through: Andrew Foglia, the cleanup hitter, singled and moments later trotted around the bases when Chris Pfund homered. A solo shot by Nick Jarboe upped CfAR’s lead to 13-6.
CfAR’s 56-year-old pitcher, Rob Nicoletti, who’s been in the league for 38 years — and who ended a brief retirement at Wojtusiak’s behest after the Independent announced its withdrawal from the league in April — shut Schenck’s formidable hitters down without a run in the top of the sixth, which furthered CfAR’s cause.
Thorsen flied out in leading off CfAR’s sixth, but no matter, for the team was to bat around, bringing him up again.
Following the flyout, Sullivan singled and Collins hit a two-run homer. Tekulsky singled, Foglia singled, and Pfund hit a three-run homer. Jarboe lined out to third, but Nicoletti singled and Wojtusiak tripled, driving in Nicoletti. A single by Palomo drove in Wojtusiak with the team’s 20th run. CfAR’s leadoff hitter advanced to second on a throwing error and then came all the way around on a single by Thorsen, sliding in under Vinnie Alversa’s tag with the run that ended the game and the series.
Afterward, Wojtusiak said he wanted to “thank CfAR for letting us use their logo — we were happy to promote their cause. And we want to congratulate Schenck’s on their great season as well.”
As for why the league, which Wojtusiak recalled as having once boasted 14 teams in two divisions, had shrunk to five — to four, given the Briar Patch Boys’ forfeits in the final two weeks — he said he found it hard to believe, despite various theories advanced as to the reasons why, that there wasn’t adequate support here for slow-pitch softball, “a common blue-collar American sport. I’ll be 40 soon, I’ve been playing in this league 21 years, and I’m having just as much fun as I did when I was 19. . . . I play in the Montauk league too. There are 9 or 10 teams there, though it’s more casual, not as competitive as the one in Amagansett. There are 15 teams in the Travis Field tournament . . . there’s got to be a way [to attract more teams]. Winning’s great, but more important, we want to keep this league going.”