Full velocity at First Ward tourney
Fastpitch softball gets rolling in the city of Dunkirk
The 42nd annual First Ward Falcon Club Men’s Fastpitch Tournament started with a bang Friday night at Promenschenkel Stadium, as Dunkirk Fastpitch I held off the Lakeside Club, 8-7.
“Obviously with two local teams you kind of know each other, what (the other team’s) tendencies are, the pitchers and things like that,” Dunkirk Fastpitch I first baseman Scott Herdzik said. “And we’re obviously happy to come out on top with the win and to get on the right side of the scoreboard, especially in a seeded tournament for the playoff on Sunday.”
In a see-saw battle that witnessed five lead changes, it was the hitters who were on display for much of the night. That was, however, until Dunkirk Fastpitch I hurler Tim Wdowiasz buckled down to get the final out.
“After what happened to me on April 30, I’m very shocked that I’m out here pitching seven innings in a game,” Wdowiasz, who underwent an emergency surgery, said. “But it’s wonderful to be out here and I can only thank God.”
After the Lakeside Club pulled within, 8-7, and had the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at first, Wdowiasz red-hot Matt Martinez swinging to end the game.
“That was a huge strikeout for me to end the game,” Wdowiasz said. “(Matt) Martinez had me pretty much all game, he’s a tough hitter, it was a battle and I think it was about the 10th pitch of the at-bat, but it ended it.”
Prior to his final at-bat, Martinez was 2 for 3, including a triple, while driving in two runs and scoring two more.
“It’s just nice to see him out there,” Herdzik said of Wdowiasz. “Obviously a few months ago you might not have been able to say that he was going to be able to throw this year. It was a little rough right off the bat, he kind of gave up some hard-hit balls to the (bottom of the order), which you don’t like to see, but we regrouped as a team and he came back when we needed him the most and he did what he needed to do in the circle.”
Dunkirk Fastpitch I trailed 6-5 heading into the bottom half of the sixth inning, but a trio of the team’s younger players stepped up. After Nick Thompson flew out to center to start the frame, Tyler Kubasik walked and Brandon Perry reached on a fielder’s choice. Then, after a double steal put runners on second and third, Randy Cooper singled home Kubasik to tie the game.
Mark Zinni followed with the eventual game-winning hit, a two-run single that plated Perry and Cooper.
“We kind of thought maybe we needed to bunt him there,” Herdzik said of Cooper’s at-bat in the bottom of the sixth. “But he did what he was supposed to do and stepped up batting in the lower part of the order, like the rest of the younger kids did. And that’s always nice to see, especially in a tournament like this, where they can get off the snide a little bit and hopefully they can keep that going for the rest of the tournament.”
On the night, Perry, Cooper and Kubasik combined for three hits, four RBIs and four runs scored.
“It’s awesome to know that we have some hitters on the team that have some experience and we have some young kids that came through for us, too, in a big way,” Wdowiasz said. “(The young players) stepped up and that’s what they’re their for. Hopefully they get a nice taste in their mouth and they stick with us.”
Lakeside Club struck first with a run in the first on an RBI single off the bat of Robert Calph, before Dunkirk Fastpitch I scored a pair of runs on RBI singles by Jake Porpiglia and Daniel Snyder in the home half of the opening frame for a 2-1 lead.
An RBI single by Pete Kalfas and an RBI double off the bat of Martinez put the Lakeside Club up 3-2 in the top of the second; Kalfas pushed the lead to 4-2 in the top of the fourth with a sacrifice fly. The lead was short-lived however, as Dunkirk Fastpitch I struck for three runs in its half of the fourth, as Kubasik drove in two runs with a triple while Perry added a run on a fielder’s choice for a 5-4 lead.
“Especially with the local teams,” Herdzik said when asked if he expected other games in the tournament to be high scoring. “Everyone knows each other, so it’s the same stuff over and over and the games are the same. You bunt, you hit-and-run and steal bases when you can. It’s all about execution and things like that, so hopefully it remains the same for us and hopefully from the fans point of view the games stay close as well. You never like to see a blowout in a tournament like this.”
The Lakeside Club regained the lead for its final time in the top of the sixth on an RBI triple by Martinez, who later scored on a wild pitch for a 6-5 lead.
“It’s always tough coming out here and playing the first game,” Wdowiasz said. “Especially after putting everything together with Scotty (Herdzik). The nerves are going, but we got settled in. It was a fun, entertaining game.”
Wdowiasz finished the game allowing seven runs — five earned — on 10 hits while striking out four, walking one and hitting a batter.
“The off-speed rise ball,” Wdowiasz said of what pitch was really working for him. “I was getting them to pop it up and I had a few strikeouts in there. But it’s tough facing those guys, because they’re good hitters and they have all faced me enough times to know what I’ve got.”
Scott Kawski suffered the loss for the Lakeside Club, as he allowed eight runs on 13 hits while walking one in a complete-game effort.
“This was definitely a team win and hopefully it carries over into (today) with the two games that we have to play against a couple of out-of-town teams,” Herdzik said. “If we can keep this ball rolling, that’s what we want to do.”
At the plate for Dunkirk Fastpitch I, Porpiglia finished 3 for 3 with an RBI, Snyder had a pair of singles and an RBI while Zinni went 2 for 4, including a triple, and two RBIs. For the Lakeside Club, Calph finished 2 for 4 with a triple and an RBI, Kevin Salisbury had a pair of singles and Weston Ley (triple, RBI) went 2 for 4.
“We’re happy with the result,” Herdzik added. “We can certainly clean it up a little bit, it was the first game of the tournament, so we were getting the jitters and things like that out, but again, it’s a step in the right direction.”
In the night’s second game, Dunkirk Fastpitch II cruised to an 8-0 win in five innings over Rookies on the Lake. Bob Honaker was the winning pitcher, as he allowed just two hits while striking out eight, walking three and hitting a batter.
At the plate for Dunkirk Fastpitch II, which scored two runs in the bottom of the second, four more in the third and two in the fourth, Bryant Watts had two hits and an RBI, Mike Tarnowski chipped in a home run, a single and three RBIs, while Nick Ahlstrom added an RBI triple and Ryan Thompson a run-scoring single.
For Rookies on the Lake, Alex Nusom and Nick Luther, who suffered the loss in the circle, picked up their team’s only hits. Luther surrendered all eight runs on eight hits while striking out one, walking two and hitting a batter.
Dunkirk Fastpitch I 8, Lakeside Club 7
Dunkirk Fastpitch II 8, Rookies on the Lake 0
Iroquois Hitmen 8,. Dunkirk Lakeside 6
LA Grove vs. East Coast Renegade, 9 a.m.
Dunkirk Fastpitch II vs. East Coast Renegades, 10:45 a.m.
Rookies on the Lake vs. LA Grove, 12:30 p.m.
LA Grove vs. Dunkirk Fastpitch II, 2:15 p.m.
Dunkirk Fastpitch I vs. Seadogs, 4 p.m.
Erie Budweiser vs. MaGill’s Bar, 5:45 p.m.
School No. 7
Dunkirk Lakeside vs. MaGill’s Bar, 9 a.m.
Erie Budweiser vs. Seadogs, 10:45 a.m.
Dunkirk Fastpitch I vs. MaGill’s Bar, 12:30 p.m.
Erie Budweiser vs. Iroquois Hitmen, 2:15 p.m.
Rookies on the Lake vs. East Coast Renegades, 4 p.m.
Iroquois Hitmen vs. Seadogs, 5:45 p.m.
Top eight teams make the single elimination playoff, with games beginning at 9 a.m. at Promeschenkel Stadium and School No. 7. An updated schedule, as well as results from today, will be printed in Sunday’s edition of the OBSERVER.