SEASON OFF TO OFFENSIVE START
Those who had become used to seeing low-scoring pitching duels in the M Street Softball League have had a surprise so far this season. The change in rules - from “open” modified or slingshot, to strict modified - has resulted in an average game with some 21 runs scored (approximately 15 to 6). I don’t currently have figures in front of me for past seasons, but I guarantee that’s a higher average than has been seen at this park in many years.
Despite the offenses being unleashed, defense and sound fundamentals are still game-winners. The same teams that dominated last year are atop the standings this year because they continue to play solid ball no matter what the style of pitching. Shenannigans, the six-time defending champions, remain undefeated as of this writing, as do the Pirates and Jerry Remy’s. All three of these clubs have shown both the desire and the talent to take it all.
In particular, I’ve been impressed early by the sheer power of the Jerry Remy’s line-up. They appear mighty solid top-to-bottom, with new additions Chris “Killer” Kowalski and Gareth Smith, both former Boston College players, impressing early. Kowalski, in particular, hits moonshots. He’s one of those rare talents who can “miss” a pitch (that is, not connect fully) but still put it over the fence. The team hasn’t played the top echelon yet, though, so we’ll see later on how they react to a little pressure.
OK, let’s have some quick recaps of the league action thus far.
Opening night saw Jerry Remy’s utterly dominate an undermanned Dorset Club, 27 - 1, behind the five-hit pitching of Mark Senna (and two of those hits came from Remy’s ballplayers they “loaned” to Dorset in order for Dorset not to forfeit.) The nightcap was a better contest, with the Pirates taking a 10 – 8 decision from the Boston Bombers (a new team headed by last year’s STATS Bar & Grille co-MVP in the “B” championships, Jack Atton.)
The next night saw Harp & Bard drop a 9 – 3 decision to Lincoln Tavern. The Harp & Bard boys left FOURTEEN men on base, leading coach Robby Costello to do some bawling out of his guys for not being a bit more patient in certain situations. Al Porcaro had the win for Lincoln, as well as four RBI. The second game saw a match-up of the two champions from last year, Shenannigans (“A”) and Boston Beer Garden (Formerly STATS, “B”). Beer Garden played creditably, but Shanny’s Luis Colon hit a second-inning grand slam for a 7 – 4 lead they would not relinquish, holding on against a final-inning rally for the 11 – 8 victory.
Playwright beat Dragon Ass, 12 – 7, with Billy McDougal driving in 4 via a triple and a home run. Cranberry Café got their season off to a good start via an 18 – 7 decision against Local 149. Longtime Cranberry manager, John “Chico” Silva, recovered to pitch a nice game, scattering 5 hits over the final six innings after a rough start in the first. Cranberry was paced by three RBI each from Chris Flaherty, Scott Simpson and Jason Allen.
The second week action began when The Warehouse destroyed the Boston Bombers, 17 – 2, in a five-inning affair highlighted by Chris Bartlett’s 4-hit pitching. A home run and 5 RBI from Chris Sabo provided more than enough offense. In the middle game of what would become now-nightly tripleheaders, Shenannigans beat Playwright, 9 – 3, with pitcher Mark Dion keeping the Playwright
batters off-balance with a mix of off-speed junk and the occasional fastball. The 9:00 game saw Dragon Ass rebound to take their first victory of the year, 15 – 6, over Village Pizza. Terrence Tedeschi had a double, triple and four RBI, while Will Tucker drove in three. For the losing side, Michael Bokoff had three runs batted in.
The next night saw Cranberry Café brought back down to earth via a 19 – 2 walloping at the hands of the Pirates. Both Pat Dolbeare and Marc Montesano drove in five for the Pirates, with Montesano clocking two homers. Brian Pacheco threw solidly while also going 3 for 3. Harp & Bard decided not to leave as many men on base as they did last time, handing Local 149 a 15 – 2 defeat. Veteran pitcher Jimmy McNiff made his season debut via a 6-hit, 2 strikeout effort, while Jason Clucas provided the slugging with two home runs and six RBI. The finale saw a very entertaining game between Shenannigans and Lincoln Tavern. Lincoln bolted to a 6 – 0 first inning lead with six consecutive hits, the finish of which was a three-run Ryan Caswell homer. Shanny’s battled back, plating six of their own in the third and finally cruising to a 14 – 9 win. Crafty veteran Mark Dion settled down after the rough first, not giving Lincoln much thereafter and running his record to 2 – 0.
Play of May 20th began with Playwright beating Village Pizza, 14 – 9. Sean Morgan and Scott Tarentino both had four hits and a home run for Playwright. Boston Beer Garden topped Dorset Club 16 – 1 via the 4-hit pitching of Mark Campbell and a 5-RBI night from Pat “Doc” Donovan. Donovan is one of the left-handed power hitters who does NOT benefit from the lack of a fence in right field. He hit a shot in this game that traveled, in the air, to the very edge of the infield skin on the N Street diamond, but was caught on a dead run by the Village Pizza right fielder who had been playing him amazingly deep to begin with. On the play, I saw something I never saw before – TWO runners scored after tagging up, from FIRST and SECOND. That’s how long a shot it was, carrying the running right fielder into the other diamond after the catch. The Pirates then continued their winning ways with a 13 - 5 win against Local 149. Charlie Connors had a triple, home run and four RBI, while Pat Dolbeare crushed his second of the season.
Thursday’s action began with The Warehouse picking up a 21 – 7 win over Dorset Club. Brendan “Freedom” McGinn had a two-home-run night at the plate, while Colin Eastman had two homers and 5-RBI in the losing cause. In the 7:30 game, Jerry Remy’s destroyed Dragon Ass, 23 – 0, behind two Chris “Killer” Kowalski home runs and singletons from Joey Fabiano, Patrick Irvine and Ben Larkins. Finishing off the week, Lincoln Tavern took a 16 – 12 decision from Boston Bombers. A 5-for-5 performance from Sean Gorman, and home runs from Max Vigliotti and Jesse “Big Tuna” Carlton, highlighted the hitting attack for Lincoln, while Dave Hoerburger collected four hits and hustling Dan Haley collected a four-bagger for the Bombers.
That’s the story for now. We’ll catch up with the action 5/26 until present in the next installment.
[Jim Sullivan - "Sully", to most at the ballpark - is a freelance writer who has been published in the Boston Herald, Boston Globe, The Patriot Ledger, Los Angeles Times, Discover magazine, Funny Times magazine, the South Boston Tribune, South Boston Today and other places. This year, he is the full-time official scorer for the league and will be in the stands every night. Bring him a roast beef sandwich and make a friend for life!]