Schenck Fuels, by virtue of a 12-9 win over Stephen Hand’s Equipment Monday night, retained sole possession of first place in the East Hampton Town men’s slow-pitch softball league.
The win, abetted by their opponents’ errors and a couple of costly walks, improved the Fuelmen’s record to 9-1; The Independent, which eked out a 10-9 win over Uihlein’s on Friday, remained in second, by a half game, at 9-2.
The 74-year-old Kenny Weldon went all the way on the mound for Indy on Friday. His pitching record stood at 2-0 as of earlier this week. Len Bernard, The Independent’s manager, reckoned that Weldon, the league’s senior player by far, has amassed “somewhere around 500 wins in his career.”
The defending playoff champions had to come from behind to beat Uihlein’s. “We scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie it at 9-9,” said Bernard, adding that “we didn’t hit any home runs that night — it was all base hits.”
“Uihlein’s had two runners on in the top of the seventh, but Kenny pitched out of it. Then, in the bottom of the seventh, Pete [Bistrian] walked, and Alex [Tekulsky, the leadoff hitter] doubled into the gap with Pete taking third on the play. John Amicucci followed with a ground ball to Hayden Ward at third, but his throw was off and Pete came in with the game-winner.”
The score was tied at 3-3 going into the top of the third inning of Monday’s game. But after the Fuelmen’s Chris O’Connor flied out to center field and the pitcher Doug Dickson flied out to right, Nick Jarboe, Stephen Hand’s third baseman, overthrew Tommy Thorsen at first while trying to throw out Ethan King, Schenck’s leadoff hitter, who had hit a ground ball his way. That error was to hurt, for Frank Quevedo and Adam Gledhill followed with back-to-back singles — Gledhill’s scoring King from second. Vinnie Alversa followed with a three-run home run over the right field fence, treating the “visitors” to a 7-3 lead.
Stephen Hand’s had runners at first and second with one out in the bottom of the fourth, but Ray Wojtusiak flied out to left and Chris Pfund, who was hitting 10th in the lineup, struck out, fouling off three successive pitches from Dickson. Schenck’s upped its lead to 10-4 in its fifth, on a two-run home run by Gledhill that scored Quevedo, who had drawn a two-out walk before the Fuelmen’s shortstop came to bat.
Stephen Hand’s, by way of a single, an error, and a walk, loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning, but Andrew Foglia, the cleanup hitter, who had homered in his first time up and had singled in his second, hit into a 5-4 force at second, though a run scored on the play. With runners at the corners and one out, Tommy Thorsen lashed a shot to center, but Will Collins made a nice diving catch for the second out as another run scored. Jarboe grounded into a 6-4 force at second to end the inning.
A two-base error by Joe Sullivan, Stephen Hand’s center fielder, enabled Brendan Fennell to get into scoring position as the sixth inning began. Paul Thorsen, Stephen Hand’s pitcher, then walked Mike Rodriguez, after which Collins popped out to Vaughn Cutillo at short. A subsequent error by Tommy Thorsen, who failed to hold on to a throw from Cutillo, allowed Fennell to score, and O’Connor followed with a sacrifice fly to center for 12-6 before Dickson made the third out on a fly ball to right.
A home run by Paul Thorsen in the bottom half narrowed the margin to five, and Thorsen made sure the gap was not extended in the top of the seventh, retiring Ethan King on a foulout to Foglia off the left field line, Quevedo on a short-to-first groundout, and Gledhill on a foulout to Foglia.
“Let’s go, guys,” Wojtusiak said as his teammates prepared for their last at-bat. “It’s the top of the order. Let’s go.”
Diego Palomo grounded out Gledhill-to-Fennell to start off the bottom of the seventh. But Cutillo followed with a sharp single to left-center and Sullivan came through with a two-run homer for 12-9. Dickson then shut the door as Foglia lunged for a pitch, dipping in front of the plate, and grounded out pitcher-to-first. Then Andy Tuthill, Schenck’s center fielder, made a one-handed catch of Tommy Thorsen’s long fly ball that was heading for the fence.
Afterward, Wojtusiak said his team is playing this season in memory of the late Chris Schiaffino, who died at the age of 35 in early May. Stephen Hand’s Equipment was a power tool rental company founded by their late teammate, who had stepped up as a sponsor after Indian Wells Tavern bowed out, Wojtusiak said. All the players’ shirts bear Schiaffino’s name on the back.
Monday’s second game matched Round Swamp Farm and Uihlein’s, which, after falling behind 18-4, came back to win 21-20.
Brian Anderson, Round Swamp’s player-manager, said afterward that, as is customary, he had played everyone, subbing in players after having gone up by 14 runs in the fourth. “They turned it on in the sixth or the seventh,” he said. “But, on our team everyone got to play — that’s how we do it until the playoffs.”
“The idea,” he added, “is to have fun.”
Travis Field, another athlete who died young, will be remembered when a double-elimination softball tournament organized by Anderson is played here in the second week of August.
Anderson said that last year’s tourney, which attracted 14 teams, had raised $13,000, enabling the Travis Field Fund to give out scholarships to four East Hampton High School seniors — Dylan Carroza, Steven Bahns, Natalie Sequeira, and Myra O’Neal.
A “ bracket bash” party that is to follow a home run derby is to be held Aug. 6. “We’ve got 12 signed up for the home run derby so far,” said Anderson. “We’re thinking of doing it head to head with quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. It costs $50 to enter, with $30 going to the scholarship fund and $20 to the pot for the winner and runner-up.”
The tournament draw will be limited to 16 teams, he said. Anderson’s team, the Pink Panthers, is the two-time defending champion. Managers of prospective entrants can either phone him at 790-5542, or send him a $300 check made out to the Travis Field Fund at 47 Bow Oarsman’s Road, East Hampton 11937.