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Food and Fun for Firefighters

By Ted Waddell
MONGAUP VALLEY — September 15, 2000 – For the volunteer firefighters from the Smallwood-Mongaup Valley Fire Department, it was a “threepeat” as Dennis “Wacko” Dietrich pitched his team to a 10-0 shutout over his brother firefighters from Monticello, thus earning SMVFD their third Eastern Firemen’s Softball League trophy in as many years.
For Monticello, it also marked a milestone as this was the first time in twenty-some years that it made the championship finals.
The rubber game in the best-of-three series was played Wednesday night at Edward Collins Memorial Field.
In the opening game of the playoffs, Dietrich pitched a 6-0 shutout on August 30. The following night, Monticello knotted the series as it pulled off a 10-9 victory, coming back from an 8-3 deficit in the sixth.
In the deciding game, Dietrich smoked some serious heat across the plate, while his teammates took to the field with a determined attitude not to repeat the final innings of the error-prone second game.
“It was a good game,” said Dietrich. “We hit like we should have done in the last game when we had a lot of errors and let them come back. After that [loss], we got down on ourselves, [but] we’ve got a good firemen’s team.”
A single by Anthony Marceano got things going for SMVFD in the first inning, followed by a RBI base hit by Jeremy Ernst which sent Marceano across the plate. Robert Yakin singled, moving Ernst up the bases, and a base hit by George Roosevelt scored Ernst and Yakin to give the defending champs a 3-0 lead.
In the second frame, Dan Churley scored on a base hit by Marceano, putting SMVFD up 4-0.
Smallwood-Mongaup Valley added two more runs in the third to take a 6-0 lead. Monticello pitcher Kevin Kurthy served up a walk to Roosevelt, who then advanced to third on a single by Dietrich. Erik Lubniewski stepped up to the plate and singled to score Roosevelt. A base hit by Dustin Miller sent Dietrich scampering home.
In the fourth frame, SMVFD picked up three more runs to go up 9-0. Paul Turi, the leadoff batter got to first with a single. Marceano walked. A base hit by “Yak” Yakin scored Turi and Marceano, and Yakin then crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly by Roosevelt.
In the sixth, Turi lead off with a single. With two outs, a base hit by Ernst sent Turi home to end the game’s scoring at 10-0.
Monticello player/coach Gerry Dietz said his team was “pretty flat” during their loss to SMVFD.
“They played awesome, we didn’t play all that great,” he said in summing up the final game.
“We were hoping for a day like we had last Thursday, but it didn’t happen,” he added. “Dennis was on top of his game tonight. He pitched a great game.”
Monticello pitcher Kevin Kurthy thought Smallwood Mongaup Valley played a great game. “They hit off me real well,” he said. “They didn’t let up any errors, and we just didn’t hit.”
Glenn “Bubba” LaPolt, SMVFD’s injury-sidelined player/coach, was still able to direct his team to the championship.
“I thought the game was exactly what we should have done every game,” he said. “If you don’t come to play the game and don’t make the plays, you don’t win. That’s baseball.”
The firefighters gathered after each game to share baseball tales and discuss firematics. According to LaPolt, this spirit of camaraderie is what has kept their league alive, while a few other firemen’s softball league have fallen by the wayside.
As the firefighters were dissecting the game over some burgers and a few beers, Ronnie Miller was drumming up support for SMVFD’s efforts to restore their 1955 Ford F-800 pumper. The department is hoping to raise enough money to get the old veteran fixed up and repainted for use as a parade vehicle.
“She’s a good old truck,” he said.
Contributions can be sent to: Truck Restoration, P.O. Box 28, Smallwood, NY 12778.
The winning team was made up of volunteer firefighters from two neighboring departments: Smallwood-Mongaup Valley and White Lake. The runners up consisted of players from the Monticello and Rock Hill volunteer fire departments.
Members of the Smallwood Mongaup Valley Fireman’s Softball team: Dan Churley, Ben Cohen, Jeffrey “Doc” Cohen, Dennis “Wacko” Dietrich, Jeremy Ernst, Lauren Herdon, Glenn “Bubba” LaPolt (player/coach), Erik Lubniewski, Anthony Marceano, Dustin Miller, John Panos, George Roosevelt, Paul Turi, Derk VanWolde and Robert “Yak” Yakin.
Monticello Firemen's Softball team: Mike Bernstein, Mark Carnell, Chris Cavello, Chuck Conway, Bill Culligan, Gerry Dietz (player/coach), Carl Houman, Keith Kurthy, Kevin Kurthy, Josh Meddaugh, Brian Monroe, Matt Monroe, John Ruess III, Mike Rujas, Ryan Shock, Brian Soller, John Stern and John Wells.

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