Erie Bud wins 42nd Dunkirk Men’s Fastpitch tourney
By GIB SNYDER III
A year after falling in the finals, Erie Budweiser took home its fifth title, as it topped Lil MaGill’s Bar, 4-2, in the championship game of the 42nd annual Dunkirk Men’s Fastpitch Tournament.
“It’s a little bit different of a group of guys,” Erie manager Bill Hillhouse noted. “But we had a self-imposed mandate to make sure we finished it this year. Getting to the finals and losing is tough, but our sponsor has the resources to help us put together a good team. And this tournament means a lot to him and it means a lot to the players, so that’s why we keep coming back.”
Down 1-0 heading into the top of the fourth, Eduardo Leonardo, who reached on a single off Lil MaGill’s Tyson Duncan, was able to score to tie the game.
The game remained tied into the top of the sixth when Mike Quionnes reached on an error and scored Leonardo’s triple to deep centerfield. Leonardo later scored on a wild pitch to increase Erie’s lead to 3-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning.
“Tying the game obviously allowed us to breath a sigh of relief because (Duncan) was really good,” Hillhouse said. “But getting that two-run cushion was instrumental. That helped everybody relax. The defense relaxed a little bit, and (Garrity) didn’t have to worry if he gave up a hit.”
In the home half of the sixth, Yusef Davis led off with a triple of his own to deep center field, before scoring on a Greg Garrity passed ball to get Lil MaGill’s to within one, 3-2.
However, that one-run deficit quickly went back up to two in the top of the seventh, as Austin Davies scored on a wild pitch to put Erie up, 4-2, where the score stayed, as Garrity shut the door on Lil MaGill’s.
“In the seventh inning, (Duncan) really struggled,” Hillhouse said. “At one point he threw nine balls in a row, so we had some runners, so that extra run in the seventh helped.”
Garrity, who noted the title was his fourth or fifth of his career, tossed a complete game, allowing two runs on two hits while striking out nine, walking four and hitting a batter.
“Like anything, the ball has to bounce your way a few times, and luck plays a part of it” Hillhouse said. “But we had a really good core group of guys and we had a deep pitching staff, and we added a couple more hitters this year that made the difference.
“Greg was a horse,” Hillhouse said. “He threw well against (Lil MaGill’s) on Saturday night when we had that tie game, so I knew he was champing at the bit to get back at them again.”
Duncan suffered the loss after he allowed all four runs on four hits while striking out nine and walking four over seven innings of work.
“I think it helped,” Hillhouse said, when asked if facing Duncan Saturday night helped Erie on Sunday. “And I think what helped was he ran out of gas toward the end of the game (Sunday).”
For Erie Budweiser sponsor Ed McCormack, the win was a nice way to help get the poor taste of losing in last year’s final out of his mouth.
“I think these guys were a little more rooted in getting it done,” McCormack said. “Some of the guys were different, but we had enough pitching that we should have won the tournament. We had a little bit more power (on offense), too.”
Whether or not Erie Budweiser will be back to defend its title again next year, however, is up in the air.
“We go year to year now,” McCormack said. “We had about four guys from Erie play, so we have to really recruit players every year now. But this one worked out pretty good.”
Hillhouse reiterated McCormack’s sentiments.
“Well, we go year to year,” he said. “If we have our league, as it is, in Erie, I’m sure we’ll be back. But Ed does it all. He sponsors two teams in Erie so we can keep playing. He’s just the greatest sponsor in Pennsylvania… Probably the eastern United States. He loves the game more than anyone I know.”
At Promenschenkel Stadium
East Coast Renegades 13, LA Grove 5
Lil MaGill’s Bar 12, Seadogs 1
MaGill’s 11, East Coast Renegades 1
School No. 7
Dunkirk Fastpitch II 10, Dunkirk Fastpitch I 2
Erie Budweiser 8, Iroquois Hitmen 0
Erie Budweiser 3, Dunkirk Fastpitch II 2
Erie Budweiser 4, Lil MaGill’s Bar 2