Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photo by Lori Brown

THE SMALLWOOD/MONGAUP VALLEY Fire Department team won the first place trophy at Saturday’s tournament at Edward M. Collins Memorial Park. Kneeling from left to right are Trish Kaiser, Desmond Gonzales, Jerry Donohue, George Roosevelt and Wayne Vandermeulen. Standing from left to right are Edwin Rodriguez, Tim Martin, A.J. Washington, Joe Bonnaci, Aaron Dinkel and Erik Lubniewski. Missing from photo are team members Dennis Rivera, Tad Mapledorm and Frankie Donohue. 

Police, Firefighters
Battle on the Ballfield

By Lori Brown
MONGAUP VALLEY — August 1, 2006 – Several area law enforcement agencies and fire departments came together on Saturday to compete in a softball tournament for 6-year-old Tia Hernlen.
Tia’s grandfather, Richard Morgan, is a retired Sergeant from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department. Tia’s parents were tragically murdered in South Florida last year and she now lives with her grandmother, Nancy Gerow-Morgan, in Fla. Through this benefit tournament, which was held at Edward M. Collins Memorial Park in Mongaup Valley, money was raised to help young Tia.
“It feels good having all the support from surrounding fire companies and law enforcement agencies, and knowing that the profits from today go into Tia’s trust fund,” Richard Morgan said.
The Fire Departments that played in the event included: Smallwood/ Mongaup Valley, White Lake and Beaverkill Valley. The Police Departments that played in the tournament were Monticello, Sullivan County Jail, and Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department.
The teams played all day Saturday, starting from 8 a.m. and finishing at 9:30 p.m.
The Fire Dept. division semifinal game pitted Smallwood/Mongaup Valley vs. White Lake. SMVFD prevailed by a final score of 8-5 to advance to the championship game.
In the Police Dept. division semifinal game, the Monticello P.D. squared off against the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Dept. During the 7th inning, the score was tied at 4-4.  But Monticello P.D. was able to score one run to move on to the finals with a 5-4 victory.
During the first inning of the championship game, Monticello PD put three runs on the scoreboard while SMVFD was unable to score.  Monticello PD continued adding runs during the second inning. The squad scored four times to take a 7-0 lead.
In the third inning, SMVFD narrowed the Monticello PD advantage by scoring three runs.
Neither team scored again until the fifth inning. In that frame, SMVFD scored four runs. The last of those runs was scored by Erik Lubniewski, who tied the game at 7-7 when he crossed the plate.
Monticello PD was not able to score any runs in the sixth inning.  On the other hand, SMVFD scored twice in the frame. Aaron Dinkel belted a solo home run to give SMVFD an 8-7 lead. Lubniewski hit a double, then scored on a double by A.J. Washington.
SMVFD held a 9-7 advantage going into the seventh inning, but Monticello PD rallied to tie the contest at 9-9. Derwin Rivera and Gil Suarez hit singles to begin the comeback. Both Rivera and Suarez crossed home plate when Lou Velasco slammed a single to right field.
The SMVFD players knew that they had to score only one run in the bottom of the seventh to become the tournament champions. Jerry Donohue, Edwin Rodriguez and George Roosevelt all recorded base hits. Donohue tried to score the game-winning run, but he was thrown out at home plate by Monticello PD’s third baseman, Velasco.
Moments later, Lubniewski slammed the ball into center field and Rodriguez crossed home plate to give SMVFD a 10-9 victory.
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Deputy Amanda Cox, who set up the event, congratulated the winning team and everyone who came to support Tia Hernlen and her family. Cox said that she and the family of Tia Hernlen “would like to thank Smallwood/ Mongaup Valley F.D. for the field and concession stand, Sullivan County Women’s Softball League for the lights, umpires for donating their time, Precision Engraving for the trophies, Lounsbury Sporting Goods for the softballs, all the teams and players who participated, everyone who came out to watch the game and all those who donated to Tia’s trust fund.”
“Thanks for your overwhelming support that you give to Tia and our family,” Gerow-Morgan said.
Anyone would like to contribute to Tia Hernlen’s trust fund is asked to please make checks payable to Tia Hernlen Trust Account. The checks should be mailed to: Tia Hernlen, In care of Gerow-Morgan, 128 Benmore Drive, Winter Park, FL, 32792.

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