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'Z' Swingers

Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

Z-TILE PLAYER/COACH Frank Zampeze, right, accepts the Edward M. Collins Memorial Softball Tournament 1st Place trophy from tournament director Dennis Dietrich.

Jersey Team
Takes Tourney

By Rob Potter
MONGAUP VALLEY — August 13, 2002 – The momentum of Sunday night’s championship game of the 21st Annual Edward M. Collins Memorial Softball Tournament swung back and fourth like a pendulum.
And the final shift of momentum favored the Z-Tile team of Bloomingdale, NJ.
Z-Tile scored seven runs in the top of the seventh inning to defeat defending tournament champion Roche’s Garage of Callicoon 12-8 at Edward M. Collins Park in Mongaup Valley.
Down 8-5 at the beginning of the frame, Z-Tile wasted little time in putting together a rally. Chad McConnell led off with a walk and Steve Platt doubled to right field. The next batter, Gary Milagen, recorded an infield hit to score McConnell.
After Doug Elder bunted Platt and Millagen over to third base and second base, respectively, Craig Nelson ripped a single to center field to tie the game at 8-8. The next batter, A.J. Knapp, flew out to center, but Mario Van Dunk beat out a infield grounder to put runners on first and third.
Frank Zampeze then tripled to right field to give Z-Tile a 10-8 lead. A single by Joe Marquardt and a Roche’s error gave Z-Tile a 12-8 lead.
Rob Shamro led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk, but was forced out at second when Mike Mancuso hit a grounder to shortstop. Mancuso beat out the subsequent throw to first base to give Roche’s a baserunner with just one out.
But Z-Tile pitcher Platt got Paul Braun to fly out to left field and then struck out Tom Smith to end the game.
“We didn’t quit, we just kept playing hard,” Z-Tile Player/Coach Zampeze said of his team’s come-from-behind victory. “We have a great group of ballplayers here.”
For a while, however, it looked as though Roche’s might be the team to post a come-from-behind win.
After a solo home run by Shamro in the bottom of the first, Z-Tile scored four times in the top of the second and added a run in the third to grab a 5-1 lead. But an RBI single by John Wilhelm in the bottom of the third combined with an RBI triple by Frank Exner and an RBI single by Jim Brush in the fourth cut the Z-Tile advantage to 5-4.
Mancuso hit a two-out ground rule double in the bottom of the fifth to score George Sanchez and Wilhelm, which gave Roche’s a 6-5 lead. An RBI single by Paul Braun later in the frame and RBI double off Brush’s bat in the sixth gave Roche’s an 8-5 lead.
“They’re a great team, they just kept coming back,” Zampeze said of Roche’s. “They have a lot of heart. They had to play five games out here today.”
After defeating Giordano Flooring of Middletown 2-1 on Sunday morning, Roche’s lost to Z-Tile by a 14-4 score. That loss put Roche’s in the loser’s bracket.
But Roche’s knocked off Lakewood Estates 10-7 in an eight-inning game to reach the championship round. In the first possible championship game, Roche’s defeated Z-Tile, 9-1, to set up the final game.
In that victory, Roche’s pitcher Scott Mosher allowed only two hits.
Z-Tile, however, displayed more offense in the final game.
“They’re a good hitting ballclub,” Roche’s Manager Tony Mancuso said of Z-Tile. “It was nip and tuck all the way. We made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of them to get the win.”
Mancuso also had praise for his own team.
“These 15 guys scrapped for the entire tournament,” he said. “I’m very proud of them. They worked hard to get to this place.”
For his overall performance in the tourney, Platt, who was the winning pitcher in the championship game, was named the Most Valuable Player.
Lakewood Estates, which lost to Roche’s in the loser’s bracket final, took third place in the tournament.
At the awards ceremony following the title game, tournament director Dennis Dietrich thanked everyone who helped make the event a success once again.
“It was great tournament,” Dietrich said. “I want to thank the members of the Smallwood-Mongaup Valley Fire Department for their help with the concession stand and keeping the field in shape. And thanks to all of the teams who played this weekend.”
As one player noted Sunday night, the annual event “keeps Eddie’s memory alive”, referring to Eddie Collins, for whom the tournament and Collins Park is named. Collins was a 1970 graduate of Eldred Central School and one of the best all-around athletes the school ever produced. He was also a veteran of many softball teams.
He died of viral pneumonia at the age of 29 in April 1981.
Tournament Results:
Z-Tile 16 –Westgate Inn 3; Amazing Bombers 5 – Zubi 3; Grand Slam Auto 3 – Kestler Well Drilling 0; Giordano 4 – Lakewood 3; West Gate 5 – Kestler 3; Copperfield’s 4 – Amazing Bombers 2; Roche’s 5 – Grand Slam 2; Giordano 7 – Metro Electric 1; Lakewood 7 – Amazing Bombers 3; Grand Slam 10 – Zubi 6; Lakewood 29 – Westgate 1; Grand Slam 21 – Metro 4; Z-Tile 14 – Copperfield’s 2; Roche’s 2 – Giordano 1; Grand Slam 8 – Copperfield’s 4; Lakewood 8 – Giordano 4; Z-Tile 14 – Roche’s 4; Lakewood 9 – Grand Slam 8; Roche’s 10 – Lakewood 7; Roche’s 9 – Z-Tile 1; Z-Tile 12 – Roche’s 8.

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