Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

THE SWAN LAKE Fire Department softball team won its first ever league championship on Thursday evening. Kneeling from left to right are Rich Lewis, Mike Fritz, Tim Eronimous, Keith Torrens and Don Sherwood. Standing from left to right are John Gorr, Ryan Edwards, Kort Wheeler, Tom Rampe, Mike Parks, Sean Parks, Dale Niemann, Jim Parks and Greg Lewis.

'It Feels Great!'

By Rob Potter
SWAN LAKE — August 16, 2005 – Moments after Thursday night’s Eastern Sullivan Firefighters Softball League championship series game at the Swan Lake Firefighters’ Max Eronimous Field, Swan Lake FD player/coach Don Sherwood was not sure exactly how he felt about the team’s game versus the White Sulphur Springs FD team.
“It feels great,” Sherwood said with a bright smile.
Then he paused for a couple of seconds.
“It feels excellent,” Sherwood exclaimed.
The happiness that Sherwood and his fellow members of the Swan Lake FD team felt was the result of the squad’s dramatic, 14-13 victory over WSSFD in the bottom of the seventh inning of the second game of the league’s best-of-three-game championship series. Swan Lake FD’s one-run win that evening coupled with the squad’s 18-10 triumph two nights before in the first game of the championship series gave the Swan Lake FD team its first ever league championship.
Rich Lewis led off the bottom of the seventh by ripping a single to left field. Mike Parks then pinch ran for Lewis.
Mike Parks tagged and advanced to second base when Jim Parks flew out to deep center field.
Moments later, with two outs and the score still knotted at 13-13, Sean Parks stepped up to the plate. He hit the ball to left field, which allowed Mike Parks to cross home plate with the game-winning run. As soon as Parks touched the plate, he was congratulated by all of his teammates.
Sherwood noted that the team had been playing in the Eastern Sullivan Firefighters’ Softball League for at least the past dozen years. Before winning the championship on Thursday night, Swan Lake FD’s best finish was second place – which happened a few times.
“We finished second behind White Sulphur Springs a couple of times and we finished second behind Smallwood-Mongaup Valley a couple of times,” Sherwood said. “We have been in the playoffs every year we’ve been in the league and it’s great to finally finish on top.”
Swan Lake FD got off to a great start in the game. The team grabbed some early momentum by scoring seven runs in the bottom of the first inning. The key hits were an RBI single by Tim Eronimous and a three-run home run by Mike Parks.
In the bottom of the second, Swan Lake FD extended its advantage to 9-0 thanks to an RBI double by Greg Lewis and Mike Parks’ sacrifice fly.
But WSSFD, which has won the past four league championships and entered the 2005 regular season with a 30-game winning streak, began to slowly erase the Swan Lake FD lead.
In the top of the third, WSSFD scored four runs. Matt DeWitt scored the team’s first run of the contest on a double by Josh Schwartz. Charlie Roth and Mike Black added RBI singles later in the frame and Roth crossed home plate when Tim Pellam hit a fielder’s choice ground ball to shortstop.
After Swan Lake FD’s Ryan Edwards gave his team a 10-4 lead by hitting an RBI single to center field in the bottom of the third, WSSFD responded with two runs in the fourth. With one out and John Picard Jr. on base, DeWitt hit the ball deep into the outfield. DeWitt sprinted around the bases for a two-run, inside-the-park home run.
After WSSFD pitcher Ryan Calkin held Swan Lake FD scoreless in the bottom of the fourth, his teammates tied the game in the top of the fifth. Roth began the frame by hitting a double to left field. He scored when the next batter, Mike Black, singled to center field. Black later scored on a base hit by Pellam.
With one out and two runners on base, Picard hit a fly ball to center field. Devin Day tagged up and scored on the play to bring WSSFD to within one run.
The next batter, Carl Yaun, tied the game at 10-10 by hitting a single to right field.
However, the score did not remain tied for very long. With two outs and Mike Fritz on third base, Tom Rampe hit a towering home run over the fence in right center field to give Swan Lake FD a 12-10 lead.
But the tenacious WSSFD team quickly answered Rampe’s two-run blast. With one out in the top of the sixth, Roth tripled to right field. He then scored on a single by Black to make it a one-run game. Black then scored the game-tying run on a single by Devin Day.
In the bottom of the sixth, Swan Lake FD took a 13-12 advantage on an RBI double by Eronimous.
But DeWitt, who led off the top of the seventh with a double, tied the contest at 13-13 when he crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly by Joe Decker.
“These are the kind of games you like to play in,” said Pellam, who is the player/coach for the WSSFD team. “It was a good game.
“We kept coming back,” Pellam continued. “We were down 7-0 in the first inning, but we didn’t get down. We just kept getting some hits and never gave up.”
Pellam added that “it’s always a tough game” when the WSSFD and Swan Lake FD teams meet on the softball field.
After congratulating the Swan Lake FD players on their victory, the WSSFD team members joined their fellow firefighters for post-game refreshments.
“These two companies are like brothers,” Sherwood said. “We’re all family here.”

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