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Held Off

Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

THE MEMBERS OF the Fitness Factory/D-Tech team celebrate after winning the Monticello Men’s Softball League championship series on Tuesday night. Kneeling from left to right are Alex Salazar, Shane Conner, Jay Legenos, Edwin Rodriguez and Dan Gallo. Standing from left to right are Keith Shaddock, Jo Jo VanKeuren, Dennis Rivera, Wayne Kaiser, Aaron Dinkle, Derwin Rivera, Desmond Gonzales and Bistek Rivera.

Fitness Factory
Keeps Foe at Bay

By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO — August 26, 2005 – Fitness Factory/D-Tech grabbed an early lead over Ma & Pa’s in Tuesday night’s third and deciding game of the Monticello Men’s Softball League best-of-three game championship series.
Fitness Factory/D-Tech added to that advantage each inning thereafter on its way to posting an 18-8 victory over Ma & Pa’s. The game ended in the bottom of the sixth inning when Derwin Rivera’s two-run double gave Fitness Factory/D-Tech a 10-run lead. The game concluded at that moment because of the league’s 10-run mercy rule.
After splitting the first two games of the series on Monday night – Ma & Pa’s won the opener, 10-6, while Fitness Factory/D-Tech prevailed, 21-4, in the second contest – both teams were fired up for the deciding contest.
Ma & Pa’s leadoff batter Brian Kowal gave his team an early 1-0 advantage when he hit the ball to deep right center field and sprinted around the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
But Fitness Factory/D-Tech tied the game in the bottom of the first. With one out, Edwin Rodriguez doubled to right field. The next batter, Dan Gallo, hit a single to center field and Rodriguez scored to tie the game at 1-1.
After pitcher Jo Jo VanKeuren retired the Ma & Pa’s batters in order in the top of the second, Fitness Factory/D-Tech took the lead in the bottom of the frame.
Wayne Kaiser and Shane Conner began the inning with back-to-back singles. Alex Salazar then patiently drew a walk off of Ma & Pa’s pitcher Jason Corman to load the bases.
Desmond Gonzales singled to center field, which allowed Kaiser and Conner to score.
Later in the frame, Rodriguez singled to left field. Salazar and Gonzales crossed home plate on the base hit to give Fitness Factory/D-Tech a 5-1 lead.
Ma & Pa’s cut that lead to 5-4 in the top of the third. Billy Schutz hit a two-run single and Kowal scored on a groundout by Wayne Kozlowski.
Fitness Factory/D-Tech extended its advantage in the bottom of the third. Aaron Dinkle began the frame by ripping a double to left field. He then advanced to third base on a passed ball. The next batter, Jay Legenos, walked and then stole second base. Kaiser flied out to left field, but he hit the ball deep enough for Dinkle to tag up and score and Legenos to tag up and advance to third base.
Legenos scored moments later on an error to give Fitness Factory/D-Tech a 7-4 advantage.
Salazar hit an RBI single to left field to give Fitness Factory/D-Tech an 8-4 lead.
Fitness Factory/D-Tech took a 10-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a two-run single by Dinkle.
Ma & Pa’s closed the gap to 10-7 in the top of the fifth when Schutz ripped a two-run double to right field and Kozlowski followed with an RBI single.
An RBI double by Gonzales and a two-run single by Dennis Rivera in the bottom of the fifth gave Fitness Factory/D-Tech a 13-7 advantage.
In the top of the sixth, Ma & Pa’s drew a little closer when Mike Schultz crossed home plate on a single by John Corrie. The run cut the Fitness Factory/D-Tech lead to 13-8.
But Fitness Factory/D-Tech ended the contest by scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth. With no outs and the bases loaded, Kaiser singled to right field. Gallo, Dinkle and Legenos all scored on Kaiser’s base hit to give Fitness Factory/D-Tech a 16-8 lead.
Four batters later, Derwin Rivera hit his aforementioned two-run double to give Fitness Factory/D-Tech the championship.
Although the game ended in the sixth inning, it almost concluded even earlier. Seconds after Dinkle hit his two-run double in the bottom of the fifth, several Ma & Pa’s players told the umpires that they felt the ball, which was ripped down the left field line, was foul. But the umpires stood by their call.
A few of the Ma & Pa’s players kept arguing their case, however. One of those players, Kozlowski, was then ejected from the game by the umpires.
When his teammates protested Kozlowski’s ejection, the umpires declared a forfeit and awarded the victory to Fitness Factory/D-Tech.
Neither team was happy with that decision, however. Several Fitness Factory/D-Tech players asked the umpires to reconsider their ruling, saying that they wanted to win the game on the field, not due to a forfeit.
The umpires then held a brief meeting with Monticello Men’s Softball League President Mike Greco, Rodriguez, who is the player/coach for Fitness Factory/D-Tech, and Vinny Radesca, the player/coach for Ma & Pa’s. After a short conversation, the decision was made to continue the game.
Fitness Factory/D-Tech, which is sponsored by The Fitness Factory gym on Forestburgh Road in Monticello and Gonzales’ D-Tech Computing Services business, finished the season with an overall record of 19-1. The team also won the league’s Culligan Division regular season title.
“In that first game we couldn’t get our bats going,” Rodriguez said of Monday night’s series opener. “We had 14 pop-ups. Fourteen of our 21 outs were pop-ups.”
“But that loss woke us up,” Rodriguez added. “It lit a fire under our tails.”
The Fitness Factory/D-Tech bats certainly responded in the second and third games. The team scored a total of 39 runs in the two contests.
“Our defense gets our bats going,” Rodriguez said. “And we played very good defense tonight.”
One example of the that outstanding defensive play came in the top of the fifth when Fitness Factory/D-Tech third baseman Dennis Rivera dove to his left to grab the softball after Chuck Worthington hit it. Rivera closed his glove around the ball and then dove to his right to tag third base with his glove to force out Corrie, who had been on second base.
If Rivera had not stopped the ball, Corrie would have probably scored and Kowal, who was on first base, might have been able to cross home plate as well.
Rodriguez also noted the importance of another aspect of the game for Fitness Factory/D-Tech this season.
“Jo Jo [VanKeuren] did a great job pitching all year,” he said. “His pitching was a cornerstone for us.”
Rodriguez also praised Ma & Pa’s for being a competitive opponent and Greco for all he does for the league.
“We appreciate everything Mike Greco does,” Rodriguez commented. “We wouldn’t be here playing softball if it wasn’t for him.”
Ma & Pa’s finished the season with an overall record of 13-6.
“It wasn’t a bad year at all,” Radesca said. “We had a big turnaround this season. Our captain, Chuck Worthington, and Billy Schutz and Brian Kowal were all new to the team this season and they all played great. And our pitcher Jason Corman won 10 games this season.”
Radesca noted that Fitness Factory/D-Tech was a very tough adversary.
“We can’t be too upset losing to Fitness Factory,” he commented. “They have a great team. They really got the hits when they needed them.”
Like Rodriguez, Radesca thanked Greco for his efforts to keep the league going strong.
“Mike is here every game,” Radesca said. “He keeps it a strict modified pitch league and makes it fun for all of us.”
Radesca also praised Rosita Everett, who is the owner of the Ma & Pa’s bar in Port Jervis.
“She is a great sponsor,” Radesca said. “She sponsored us in this league and the Matamoras [Pa.] league this summer and in a couple of tournaments.”

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