By Rob Potter
LIBERTY August 26, 2003 Theres an old sports adage about defense winning championships.
In the case of the Liberty Slow Pitch Softball League, however, plenty of offense helps too.
The first two games of the leagues best-of-five championship featured plenty of hits and runs. In last Thursday nights first game at the softball field adjacent to Liberty Elementary School, Stingers outlasted T & M Tree Service, 27-25. Then on Friday night, T & M evened the series with a 21-16 victory.
(The teams were scheduled to play the third game of the championship series last night. Game four is slated for tonight and the fifth game, if necessary, is scheduled to be held tomorrow night.)
In the opener, the teams combined for 52 runs and 11 home runs as no lead was safe until the final out of the game was recorded.
Stingers jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
But the first four batters in the T & M lineup Mitch Peck, Warren Rogers, Greg Lewis and Scott Edwards blasted back-to-back-to-back-to-back solo home runs in the bottom of the first to tie the game at 4-4. Later in the inning Pete Pagan hit a three-run homer to give T & M an 8-4 lead.
Lewis added a two-run home run and Edwards a solo shot in the second as T & M increased its lead to 14-4.
Stingers battled back with nine runs in the top of the third to make it a one-run game.
After Lewis hit his third home run of the game in the bottom of the third to put T & M up 15-13, Nick Maiori of Stingers hit a two-run homer in the top of the fourth to knot the score at 15-15.
A home run by Rob Sze highlighted a three-run fifth for Stingers, but T & M responded with three runs of its own in the bottom of the fifth.
Down to their last at-bat, Stingers rallied in the top of the seventh. A solo home run by Steve Rogg, an RBI single by Jaime Arroyo and Frank Scuderis RBI double enabled Stingers to take a 27-24 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
T & M attempted a game-winning comeback in the bottom of the seventh. With one out and the bases loaded, Peck hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Scott Lewis, who had doubled to lead off the inning.
But Stingers pitcher Danny Rico got the next batter to fly out to end the game and preserve his teams two-run victory.
T & M Ties Series
In Fridays second game, T & M built an early 7-0 lead thanks in part to a two-run homer in the first by George Helms and Greg Lewis three-run round tripper in the top of the second.
John Mills, Rogers and Helms each hit solo home runs in the top of the fourth to help T & M extend its lead to 12-4.
Stingers rallied for eight runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 12-12 and took a 14-12 lead when Sze hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth.
Edwards two-run home run and RBI doubles by Mills and Pagan in the top of the sixth enabled T & M to retake the lead, 18-14.
After Stingers scored twice in the bottom of the sixth, T & M responded with three runs in the seventh. Helms third home run of the game, Scott Lewis RBI single and an RBI double by Joe Staudt gave T & M a 21-16 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.
T & M pitcher Mills allowed only one base runner in the bottom of seventh as the team tied the series at a game apiece.