Democrat Photo by Rob Potter
THE MEMBERS OF the L & P Tree Service team are, kneeling from left to right, Tommy Smith, Keith LoTito, Ron Lam, Gary Ferraro, Chad McConnell and Gregg Leather. Standing in middle row, from left to right, are John Heinsch, George McConnell, Mo Kandous, Bink DeGrote and Tony Natoli. In the back row are Pat McGuirl, Steve Mikos and Kevin McGuirl. Missing from photo is Dustin McConnell.
L & P Tree Service Prevails at Collins Memorial Tournament
By Rob Potter
MONGAUP VALLEY August 17, 2004 A total of 11 top softball teams from three states competed this past weekend in Mongaup Valley.
Beginning Friday evening and concluding Sunday evening, the teams battled each other at the 23rd annual Edward M. Collins Memorial Softball Tournament.
The tournament has been held each summer since 1982 to honor Collins, a 1970 Eldred Central School graduate. Known throughout the area as an outstanding softball player and all-around athlete, Collins passed away from viral pneumonia in April 1981 when he was just 29 years old.
Despite heavy rain last Wednesday night and Thursday and a gloomy weekend weather forecast, the tournament ran as scheduled at Edward M. Collins Memorial Park. Members of the Smallwood-Mongaup Valley Fire Department spend virtually all day Friday pumping away about six inches of water that covered the infield and a good portion of the outfield.
By 6:30 p.m. Friday night, however, the field was in great shape and the event began as scheduled.
L & P Tree Service of Staten Island certainly had no complaints about the field. L & P, which won the ASA National 9-Man Major Modified national championship in 2002 and 2003, won all five games it played over the weekend to capture the Collins Tournament championship trophy.
On Sunday afternoon, L & P defeated Netrition, a team from Albany, 4-1, in the title game.
Netrition took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single by Dave Simon.
But from that point on, it was all L & P. In the bottom of the first L & P tied the contest at 1-1 when Pat McGuirl scored on a sacrifice fly by Chad McConnell.
L & P took the lead for good in the bottom of the second as Dustin McConnell scored on an RBI single by McGuirl.
With a runner on base in the bottom of the third, George McConnell blasted a home run over the fence in left center field to give L & P a 4-1 lead.
L & P pitcher Bink DeGrote allowed only five hits to pick up the victory.
This was the first time that L & P played in the Collins Tournament.
We really enjoyed it, said team manager Gregg Leather.
When asked about the key to going undefeated all weekend to win the tournament, Leather had a simple reply.
Our pitching and defense were outstanding this weekend, he said. George [McConnell] had some big hits for us, too. At this level, though, pitching and defense are vital to being successful.
Leather added that McConnell played a great third base as well.
McConnell was named the tournaments MVP. He went 9-for-14 (a .643 average), hit three home runs and had 10 RBI.
Although based on Staten Island, L & P has a connection to Sullivan County. The teams sponsor, Linda Lam, has a second home near Tennanah Lake. Over the weekend, Lam invited the team members to stay at her house to avoid traveling back to Staten Island after each days schedule of games was finished.
While the L & P team members have been playing softball for several years, they have been competing as L & P Tree Service for just the past five years. After Lindas husband, Ronnie Lam Sr., passed away, the team decided to honor him by playing as L & P Tree Service.
Ironically, Netrition also played L & P in its first game of the tournament. On Saturday afternoon, L & P defeated Netrition by a final score of 14-6.
But Netrition rebounded from that defeat to win its next four games and reach the championship game.
These guys just kept hustling and kept playing, Netrition player/coach Dan Bologna said. In a double-elimination tournament like this, youre still in it until the last out of that second game.
Organizers and players alike thought this might have been the best Collins tournament in several years perhaps ever.
It was a spectacular tournament, said tournament director Dennis Dietrich. We had great teams, including past national champions and state champions. There were a lot of close games and the teams really battled throughout the weekend. It doesnt get any better than that.
Dietrich noted that only two games were shortened due to the eight-run rule and none were called early because of the 15-run rule. (To keep the tournament on schedule, games were ended after three innings if one team had a lead of 15 or more runs and after five innings if one team had an advantage of eight or more runs.)
The results of the tournament are as follows: Zubis Lawn Care of Matamoras, Pa. 14 Kestlers Well Drilling of Hawley, Pa. 1; Lakewood Estates of Port Jervis 5 Captains Table of Monroe 4; L & P Tree Service 15 DeVries Construction of Middletown 11; Friends Pub and Restaurant of Smallwood 19 Fort Apache of the Bronx 10; Z-Tile of Bloomingdale, NJ 3 Zubis 0; Lakewood 14 Ma and Pas of Matamoras, Pa. 6; L & P 14 Netrition 6; Fort Apache 7 Captains Table 5; Zubis 18 DeVries 16; Kestlers 13 Ma and Pas 7; Fort Apache 8 Zubis 7; Netrition 10 Kestlers 2; Z-Tile 10 Friends 0; L & P 8 Lakewood 6; Netrition 9 Friends 0; Lakewood 4 Fort Apache 3; L & P 8 Z-Tile 5; Netrition 16 Lakewood 2; Netrition 6 Z-Tile 1; L & P 4 Netrition 1.