By Rob Potter
LIBERTY August 19, 2003 The first game of the American League finals of the Liberty Slow Pitch Softball League playoffs was, in a word, a slugfest.
Champion Awards and Stingers combined for six home runs and a total of 49 runs under the lights Thursday night at the softball field adjacent to the Liberty Elementary School.
A pair of home runs by Nick Maiori helped Stingers overcome an early 6-0 deficit to record a 27-22 win in the first game of the best-of-three series. (The teams were scheduled to play the second game of the series last night.)
Champion Awards grabbed that 6-0 lead in the bottom of the first. A two-run double by Des Gonzales and an RBI double by Ellis Garcia keyed the Champion offense in the inning.
After battling back with four runs in the second inning, Stingers grabbed a big lead in the third. A total of 16 batters stepped up to the plate in the frame as Stingers scored 12 runs.
With no outs and the bases loaded, John Bell hit an inside-the-park grand slam to give Stingers an 8-7 lead. (Champion scored a run in the bottom of the second to take a 7-4 lead.)
Later in the inning, Tim Minton and David Bonilla had consecutive RBI singles and Rob Sze followed with an RBI triple. Sze scored on an error after reaching third base to give Stingers a 12-7 lead.
Maiori hit the first of his two home runs a few batters later. The two-run round tripper extended the Stingers lead to 16-7.
Down 19-9 heading into the bottom of the fourth, Champion Awards responded with seven runs. A two-run homer by Dan Gallo, an RBI double by Alex Salazar and a two-run single by Gonzales helped Champion close the gap to 19-16.
In the top of the fifth however, Maiori hit his second home run of the game. The two-run blast gave Stingers a 21-16 lead.
After Champion scored a run in the bottom of the fifth, Stingers responded with five runs in the sixth. Jaime Arroyo and Kort Wheeler each hit a homer as Stingers grabbed a 26-17 advantage.
Champion rallied for five runs in the bottom of the sixth, but could not get any closer.
Fiddles vs. T & M
Earlier in the evening, Fiddles Dari King met T & M Landscaping in the first game of the best-of-three National League finals.
The game was suspended by darkness in the fourth inning. At the time, T & M held a 14-11 lead.
The game was scheduled to resume at that point last night. The teams were then slated to play the second game of the series immediately afterward.