TELLURIDE – Keeping pace with the rapid advance of summer, men’s softball action is heating up on the Town Park diamonds.
This week highlighted some upsets in the B league, as seven teams continue to fight for supremacy in the league rankings. League leaders the Barley Sippers chalked up their first loss of the season Monday, their six-game winning streak broken by some unlikely contenders. The sixth-ranked Lizard Loungers surprised the Sippers with a Monday night 10-run rally. It was the Loungers second win of the 2008 season.
Fifth-ranked Tommy’s Plum also improved their record, beating fourth-ranked Telluride Mafia in a 26-6 blowout Wednesday night. Tommy’s started the match with a noteworthy first-inning performance, stacking up seven runs. But the Mafia quickly countered, staying tough on defense and allowing only four more runs in the next four innings. But Tommy’s wasn’t ready to let the Mafia steal their glory. In a final inning showdown, Tommy’s Plum blasted their rivals and raked in a total of 10 runs to give them a whopping 20-run lead.
Leading Tommy’s seventh inning crusade were John Michael Tealdi, who got the better of Mafia outfielders with his big guns at bat, and Aaron Neu, whose in-the-park homerun helped the team put a few more points on the scoreboard.
Catcher Justin Weihs was one of the evening’s standouts on defense, said Tommy’s Manager Carey Niebruegge. The Mafia were brewing up a big-scoring inning mid-match, but Weihs’s key catch of a pop-up stopped the men in black dead in their tracks. The catch was Weihs’s first of the season, ending his defensive “slump.”
Also coming up strong for Tommy’s defense was pitcher Mark Niebruegge, whose on-the-mark lobs kept a normally noisy Mafia batting lineup quiet throughout the evening.
The victory was the third of the season for the Tommy’s squad.
Also improving their record on Wednesday were the third-ranked Hosers, who beat the Lizard Loungers 10-2. MVP R.J. Haggerty was a defensive powerhouse at third base, prompting Loungers players to criticize: “Enough of the big leagues!” His sprightly snatch of lead-off Loungers batter Mike “G” Gianola’s hard-hit line drive in the fourth inning kept the Loungers player on third from scoring the team’s first run of the evening.
Pitcher Sal Birrittella led Loungers batters into slippery first-pitch traps time and again, further assisting in the Hosers’ early-game efforts to keep the Loungers from scoring at all.
The Loungers showed some life in the sixth inning when batter Jason “Monkey” Franck fought back from an 0-2 count, sending a line drive up the center. Runner Greg Deame, coming from first, thought it prudent to stop at second base, but Franck rounded first and made a beeline for second, getting caught in a pickle in the process. A Hoser overthrow to the first baseman ultimately advanced both runners, and set the stage for the next Loungers batter, Mike “J” Johnson, to bring them both home.
The two sixth-inning runs were the first, and ultimately only, Lounger runs for the evening. Hoser right fielder Andrew Brown made two back-to-back catches that resolutely slammed the door on the Loungers’ attempted comeback.
The Hosers seemed ripe for widening their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Larry Scanlon slammed a hard hit line drive that put ducks on the Hoser pond with no outs. Yet a double play initiated by Loungers shortstop Deame – his second of the evening – followed by a left field fly catch by Erik Aura ended what could have been a big Hoser inning.
The Loungers emerged lackluster in their last at-bats, allowing the Hosers to maintain their healthy lead and take the 10-2 victory.
“Another one got Hosed,” Hoser left center fielder Mike Cabell commented following his team’s Wednesday win.
Men’s softball will soon take its Bluegrass hiatus, freeing the diamonds for a nine-day break starting Tuesday, June 17. The A and B leagues will have two more evenings of softball in the park before Bluegrass consumes the fields, Friday and Monday nights. Games resume Wednesday, June 25.