M & M Cleaners/Blasdell Pizza scored early and often against Dunkirk Fastpitch en route to an 8-4 win in the opening game of the 37th First Ward Falcon Club Fastpitch Tournament Friday night, at Promenschenkel Stadium.
Up 1-0, M & M Cleaners/Blasdell Pizza used five hits to score five runs and build a 6-0 lead with one out in the top of the third, before Dunkirk Fastpitch hurler Tim Wdowiasz was pulled from the circle.
"We played (Tim Wdowiasz) on Wednesday," M & M Cleaners/Blasdell Pizza player Robert Calph said. "So we got together and said, 'Early and often.' We were going to swing the bat early. (Wdowiasz) was going to try and get ahead of us early and throw his riser, so we made sure we got up early. We were swinging hot bats, we knew we could hit him. We just had to make sure we had that confidence going."
OBSERVER?Photos by Gib Snyder III
Below,?Dunkirk Fastpitch’s Terry Frazier swings at a pitch during Friday’s opening game of the 37th First Ward Falcon Club Fastpitch Tournament Friday night, at Promenschenkel Stadium.?Above, Bob?Honaker of M&M/Blasdell Pizza throws a strike. Play continues today, with 15 games on the schedule.
Billy Larson led off the inning with a single, stole second and scored on a Dustin Malkowski RBI base hit. Adam Kubasik went down looking for the first out, before Mike Tarnowski singled Malkowski to third. Vinny Bomasuto followed with a pop-fly double that right fielder Jeremy McAfee could not corral, allowing Malikowski to come home for a 3-0 lead. With Bryant Watts at the plate, Tarnowski raced home on a passed ball for a 4-0 lead, before Bomasuto came home on a Ryan Thompson single to center.
"We lost a little bit of a step," Wdowiasz said. "I missed on a few pitches and it hurt us big at the beginning of the game."
Watts later walked, and scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Dan Nickle for a commanding 6-0 lead.
"We played hard," Watts said of his team's performance. "Everyone was focused every pitch, we were in the dugout talking and the defense played great. We hit the ball not as well as we wanted to, but we hit enough to make things happen."
Dunkirk Fastpitch didn't go quietly however, making a game of it in the bottom of the fourth, scoring four runs on three hits, finally getting to M & M/Blasdell's Bobby Honaker.
Jake Porpiglia led off the inning with a single - Dunkirk Fastpitch's first of the game - and moved to second after McAfee worked a walk. A ground ball off the bat of Rick Zappie pushed Porpiglia and McAfee up a base to third and second, respectively. Bobby Kozlowski went down swinging, before Casey Snyder drove in a pair of runs with a single off the body of Honaker. A walk to Scott Herdzik followed, putting a pair of runners on for Mike Cole, who came through with a two-run single to cut the M & M Cleaners/Blasdell Pizza lead to 6-4. Honaker worked out of further trouble however, getting Sean Raynor to ground out to third to end the inning.
Anyone in attendance Friday night may have thought that they were watching a Dunkirk varsity baseball alumni softball game, as both teams were littered with former Marauders. The young guys of M & M Cleaners/Blasdell Pizza showed they could play with their much older counterparts, scoring a run in the top of the fifth and one more in the sixth for the 8-4 win.
"It's always great to play with former players that you always played with," Watts said. "We've all been coached under Frank Jagoda. So it was just great getting back with all the guys and playing good, competitive ball."
Dunkirk Fastpitch had one last chance for a comeback in the bottom of the sixth, as Snyder, Herdzik and Cole worked consecutive two-out walks, but Honaker was able to work himself out of trouble by getting Raynor to ground out harmlessly to second.
"Casey (Snyder) and (Mike) Cole always hit me well, so I wasn't trying to give them anything good," Honaker said. "And it put me in a jam."
Honaker tossed a complete game, allowing four runs on four hits while striking out six and walking seven, getting solid defensive support from his middle infielders.
"They were hitting the ball hard," Honaker said. "We had a couple of great plays in the field. Other than that, it could have been a lot closer game."
For a lot of the players on M & M Cleaners/Blasdell Pizza, the Falcon Club Tournament represents one of the very few instances that they have played without a coach and Watts noted that it has its ups and downs.
"At times, we're all looking at each other like what are we going to do," Watts said. "But other times during the game, because we've all been coached so well, we pretty much have a feel for what we're going to do out there, so I think it goes both ways, good and bad."
In other games Friday night, Niagara Fury topped Rookies, 4-0, while Big John's beat Woodstock, Ontario, 3-1.
Play will really heat up today in the 37th rendition of this classic summertime event, with games beginning at 9 a.m., at Promenschenkel Stadium, School No. 7 and at 10:45 at Veteran's Field.
Fifteen games are on the schedule with the top teams, the Erie Budweiser Gremlins - made up chiefly of members of the NY Gremlins, the International Softball Congress' No. 1 team - and the Pennsylvania Power (ISC No. 5) bringing their talents to the local diamonds.
Back in the circle this year will be Andrew Kirkpatrick, the big, lefty Australian who pitched Chicago/New York to the title last year. Kirkpatrick will pitch for Erie Budweiser. Also in town will be Tom Berube, the Toronto-area native who pitched Dunkirk to its only tournament title in 2005. Berube will be throwing for the Niagara Fury, which also features local product, and Dunkirk varsity baseball assistant coach, Brian Crawford. Yet another name to look our for is Greg Garrity, who is rumored to be coming in to pitch for Lackawanna's Big John's, a team he pitched to the title in 2010.
Saturday's pool-play schedule is as follows. Promenschenkel Stadium: Wyevale, ON vs. M & M Cleaners/Blasdell Pizza, 9 a.m.; PA Power vs. Lakeside/Rookies 10:45; Big John's vs. Niagara Fury, 12:30 p.m.; Erie Budweiser Gremlins vs. Dunkirk Fastpitch, 2:15; New York Bombers vs. Erie Budweiser Gremlins, 4:30; PA Power vs. Niagara Fury, 5:45.
School No. 7: Dunkirk Fastpitch vs. Erie Lost Dogs, 9 a.m., Erie Budweiser vs. Erie Lost Dogs, 10:45; NY Bombers vs. M & M Cleaners/Blasdell Pizza, 12:30 p.m.; NY Bombers vs. Wyevale, ON, 2:15; PA Power vs. Woodstock, ON, 4:30.
Veteran's Field: Big John's vs. Rookies, 10:45 a.m.; Woodstock, ON vs. Lakeside/Rookies, 12:30 p.m.; Lakeside/Rookies vs. Rookies, 2:15; Wyevale, ON vs. Erie Lost Dogs, 4:30.