The following was submitted by Roger Whittlesey
It was David and Goliath all over again.
Mario’s Restaurant (6-13), a team in eighth place, served the reigning champs and currently first-place Nashoba Valley Veterinarian Mustangs (17-1) their first loss of the season in a extra-inning thriller on Sunday. There are no more undefeated teams in the league. Nevertheless, the Mustangs have secured a first-round playoff bye for the sixth year in a row. Second place Floral Arts (15-3) won twice this week and needs either one more win or a Shortcut Landscaping (11-8) loss to gain a playoff bye for its fourth year in a row. The top two teams of the regular season sit out the first round while the third through sixth place teams battle it out. Drew Farms (8-11) is in possession of fourth place, and Willis Tent (7-11) and Healy Oil (7-11) are tied for fifth place. Surging Pro Sports Therapy (7-12) has won two out of its last three games and is in a three-way battle for one of the four first-round playoff spots.
Healy Oil 17, Shortcut Landscaping 14
Last Sunday, Healy Oil singled and doubled their way to a big win over the powerful Shortcut crew. Mike Martin got the win on the mound for Healy. Brian Egan hit Healy’s only homer of the game, a liner over the center field fence. Brian Herrmann hit a bases-loaded triple off the right field fence. Shortcuts had two men on and one of their power hitters at the plate when Dan Nucci ended the game by diving to catch a foul tip behind the plate.
Willis Tent 12, Pro Sports Therapy 9
This was a continuation of a game suspended because of rain in May. At the time of the suspension, Willis led 4-1. Upon resumption, Pro Sports Therapy put up two runs right away, only to see Willis put up three in the bottom of the inning. PST kept chipping away, but a four-run Willis outburst in the bottom of the fifth put it away. A Nate Frazee 3-run bomb in the top of seventh made it close again, but that would be all the scoring PST could muster. Tom Rose (3-for-3) stayed hot, and shortstop Ben Armstrong contributed three hits.
Nashoba Valley Mustangs 16, Gutcheck 3
Paul Ligouri got the win on the mound for the Mustangs in an all-around team effort. Bill Knute led the offense with two hits, including a homer. Mike Kennedy and Don Cusano each had three hits apiece and three runs scored for the winners. Mark Cusano, Dan Crogan, Jay Dolan, Jay Lincoln, and Jack Erickson each had two hits. Jim Curley had a home run for Gutcheck.
Floral Arts 8, Willis Tent 2
On Wednesday, Shortstop Jim Peloquin stroked two home runs and knocked in five to lead second place Floral Arts to an 8-2 win over Willis Tent. Rob Beaudette also contributed a home run. Dave Harrington pitched well in the loss for Willis, keeping most of the Floral batters off-balance with his mix of short and long pitches.
Shortcut Landscaping 11, Pro Sports Therapy, 6
Short Cut Landscaping defeated Pro Sports Therapy, 11-6, in a battle of small ball as the winds that preceded the lightning that stopped the game after six innings kept the ball in play all night. PST got out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but SCL scored in each of the first four innings – including a four-run fourth inning that broke open the tight game. SCL played clean defense throughout, throwing out two PST runners at third and not allowing a PST run after the third inning. For PST, several players had multi-hit games, led by pitcher Dave Chirokas, who drove in three of the PST six runs.
Nashoba Valley Veterinarian Mustangs 9, Mario’s Restaurant 5
The Mustangs were clinging to a one-run lead while batting in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs when Jack Erickson and Bill Knute each hit two-run homers to provide enough insurance runs to hang on for the hard fought victory over a determined Mario’s squad on Friday. Knute led the Mustangs with two home runs and four RBI. Paul Selfrige played his usual stellar game at shortstop for the winners. Mario’s Dave Batchelder hit a two-run homer and Rick Waldron lined his career first home run to dead center in support of pitcher Jerod Colley’s fine effort. Outfield defense continued to shine for Mario’s as Jerry Breen, Murph McKeon and Brian Collamore all made difficult catches to keep the game close.
Shortcut Landscaping 10, Drew Farms 7
Shortcut Landscaping improved to 11-8 with a 10-7 win over league rival Drew Farms. Both of these teams have been switching places in the standings all year long. This win gives SCL the regular-season edge with two wins and one loss against Drew Farms.
Pro Sports Therapy 15, Gutcheck 14
In the late game on Friday night, Pro Sports Therapy jumped out to a big lead and then hung on by the skin of their teeth to take a 15-14 win in the first game of the two teams’ home-and-home series this weekend. PST exploded for five runs in the third and six more in the fourth to go up 15-3. The Gutcheck offense then took over, scoring six of their own in the top of the fifth and four more in the sixth inning, to make it a 15-13 game. After shutting down the PST offense in the bottom of the sixth, Gutcheck rallied in the top of the seventh. The PST middle infield turned a 6-4-3 double play to temporarily slow the rally, but Gutcheck continued to press, putting runners on first and second with Thanh Nguyen (one of the league’s best hitters) at the plate. Nguyen, who had already hit a grand slam in the game, promptly hit a rope to left field, beating the diving attempt of PST outfielder Ben Armstrong, and scoring the runner from second. But outfielder Mark Urlage backed up the play and threw a strike to shortstop John Bodi, who then gunned down the runner trying to go from first to third to end the game. PST got multiple offensive contributions from up and down the lineup. Urlage was 4-for-4, Bodi was 3-for-4 and scored three runs, Armstrong scored three runs and drove in three more, and Andrew Fletcher was 3-for-3 with 3 RBI.
Pro Sports Therapy 12, Gutcheck 9
Pro Sports Therapy and Gutcheck played another close one Sunday night with PST prevailing, 12-9. Winning pitcher Jeff Fuller got some timely defense, including a 6-4-3 double play to squelch a Gutcheck rally and a diving catch in the outfield by Mark Urlage with the bases loaded that prevented several runs. PST’s offense got contributions up and down the line-up, led by Jerry Cressman’s three-run homer and Derek Donegan’s three hit game.
Mario’s Restaurant 4, Nashoba Valley Veterinarian Mustangs 3 (8 innings)
The players on Mario’s Restaurant showed a lot of heart and determination as they upset the Mustangs, 4-3, and handed them their first loss of the season. The game ended in the eighth inning on a single to right that scored the tying run, and then, on the same play, the winning run crossed the plate when the usually sure-handed Mustangs were unable to effectively execute an outfield-to-infield relay.
Floral Arts 17, Drew Farms 4
Simon Tripp hit a two-run blast in the sixth inning to give Floral Arts the 13-run lead and the victory. Larry Mardany allowed four runs in the first inning and then scattered only three more hits in the rest of the game. Floral played excellent defense, including turning a 4-6-3 double play, started by Ken Delaney, who fielded a hard hit ball to second, shuffled it off to shortstop Jim Peloquin (who was 3-for-3, 2 HRs, triple, 5 RBI), who then threw a laser to first baseman Mark Chambers. Peloquin later made a circus play in the hole at short that required him to throw off of one foot. Tom Semeter fielded the throw on a hop to get the runner by a whisker. Rob Beaudette hit two solo shots, and Mike Alonardo hit two home runs and knocked in three. Catcher Billy Luppold led off the fourth inning with a double that one-hopped the right field fence.