The last time the Independent, the defending champion in the East Hampton Town men’s slow-pitch softball league, met Schenck Fuels, the Fuelmen prevailed 23-22, but in Monday night’s rematch, the pendulum swung the other way as Indy, with malice aforethought, wrote a 23-13 finis to Schenck’s hitherto-undefeated season.
In the teams’ first meeting, Schenck’s first four batters — Ethan King, Frank Quevedo, Andy Tuthill, and Vinnie Alversa — hit home runs, prompting Len Bernard to replace Rob Nicoletti with Tim Brenneman on the mound. The Fuelmen were to finish with 11 taters in all, three by Alversa, two each by Quevedo, Tuthill, and Brendan Fennell, and one each by King and Mike Rodriguez, a most welcome new recruit.
Still, it wasn’t over until it was over: A long fly ball by Indy’s strong leadoff hitter, Alex Tekulsky, sent in the direction of the right field fence had everyone’s attention with one runner on base in the bottom of the seventh inning. Had it cleared the barrier, it would have been the game winner, but Will Collins, who was patrolling right field at the time and who was less concerned than the onlookers, gathered it in, saying before Monday’s game began that “it turned out to be a normal fly ball.”
On Monday, however, it was Indy’s turn, as the defending champions scored four runs in the top of the first inning, eight runs in the top of the second, six in the top of the third, two in the top of the fourth, and three in the top of the fifth. Doug Dickson, Schenck Fuels’ pitcher, held the Independent scoreless in the sixth and seventh, but it was over by then.
The Fuelmen didn’t have much in the tank that night. They were trailing 12-0 by the time Jerry Uribe poled a home run to lead off the bottom of the second. Later in that inning another run scored on an error by Barry Mackin at first base. A three-run home run by Uribe and a subsequent solo shot by Rodriguez in the bottom of the third made it 18-6, but the Independent, whose lineup banged out 29 hits, including home runs by Zach and Tim Brenneman, Tekulsky, and Nicoletti, kept piling it on. Nicoletti went all the way this time to pick up the win.
Ken Weldon, the league’s senior player, who coached first base for the winners, said during the course of the rout that despite the lopsided score, “things can turn around quickly when we play them.”
They didn’t that night. Nicoletti made sure of that. In the bottom of the fifth, with the Independent leading 23-10, Schenck’s loaded the bases with two outs, but Nicoletti induced Ethan King, the leadoff hitter, to fly out to John Amicucci in center field. Likewise, when in the bottom of the sixth Schenck’s had runners at the corners and none out, Mackin, on fielding a ball hit his way by Alversa, forced Tuthill at second as Quevedo, who had led off with a single, scored. The next hitter, Fennell, homered to make it 23-13, but the Fuelmen couldn’t come up with any more runs as Alex Dalene, with runners at first and second and two out, lined out softly to Tekulsky at short.
Garret King led off the bottom of the seventh for Schenck’s with a single, but was erased on a subsequent 1-4-3 double play. Ethan King then singled off the left field fence, but Nicoletti retired Quevedo on a pop to Bill Collins at third to end the game.
The win improved the Independent, which has successfully mixed long-lasting veterans with 20-somethings, to 8-2 and dropped Schenck Fuels, a team whose lineup includes a number of former baseball players, to 8-1.