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Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

THE GRAND SLAM Softball team celebrates its second consecutive Neal B. Turfler Invitational Softball Tournament championship. Kneeling from left to right are Chad McConnell, Eric Joyce, Assistant Coach Paul Perasso, Assistant Coach Dave Laney, D. J. Laney and Manager Pete Corcoran. Standing from left to right are John Heinsch, Tim Martin, Tom Lucardi, Dave Simon, George McConnell, Nicholi Vasquez, Frank Tibubcio, Hunter McConnell, Steve Price, Keith Baudendistel, Jim Shook and Dustin McConnell.

Grand Slam Takes
Turfler Tournament

By Rob Potter
MIDDLETOWN — Augsut 22, 2006 — Grand Slam Softball captured its second straight Neal B. Turfler Invitational Softball Tournament championship over the weekend.
In a title game that began late Sunday night and ended shortly after midnight, Grand Slam, which is based in Marlboro, defeated Zubi’s Lawn Care, 13-3, at Neal B. Turfler Memorial Field at Fancher-Davidge Park in Middletown.
Although the tournament’s eight-run lead after five innings mercy rule is usually waived for the title game, the rule was enforced due to the late hour.
Grand Slam – which has two Sullivan County players on its roster, Keith Baudendistel of Wurtsboro and Tim Martin of Loch Sheldrake – went a perfect 5-0 in the double-elimination, modified pitch tournament.
In the bottom of the first, Steve Platt of Zubi’s gave his team a 1-0 lead with a towering solo home run over the fence in left center field.
But Grand Slam grabbed a 2-1 lead in the top of the second. Frank Tibubcio tied the game by blasting a home run over the fence in right field and John Heinsch scored the go-ahead run on a double by Dustin McConnell.
In the top of the third, Tibubcio hit a two-run single and Heinsch ripped a two-run double to left center as Grand Slam extended its lead to 7-1.
After Zubi’s scored once in the bottom of the third to close its deficit to five runs, Grand Slam responded with two runs in the top of the fifth. George McConnell and Tibubcio blasted back-to-back homers to give Grand Slam a 9-2 lead.
Justin Cromie of Zubi’s belted a solo home run in the bottom of the frame to make it a 9-3 game.
In the top of the sixth, Chad McConnell hit a two-run double, while Dave Simon and Tibubcio had RBI singles. George McConnell added an RBI groundout as Grand Slam took a 13-3 lead.
Zubi’s attempted to prolong the game in the bottom of the frame. The team loaded the bases with two outs against pitcher Nicholi Vasquez. But Vasquez, who relieved starting pitcher Jim Shook after Shook pitched five strong innings, fielded a ground ball and threw it to first baseman Steve Price for the final out.
“This was a total team effort,” Grand Slam Assistant Coach Dave Laney said. “Every guy on the team is a very unselfish player. They are all A-plus players.”
Grand Slam Manager Pete Corcoran noted that Martin was the game-winning catcher in the team’s first tournament game on Friday night – which was a come-from-behind 6-5 victory over Fitness Factory – and the winning catcher in the title game. Corcoran also pointed out that Baudendistel hit a home run in the team’s 6-0 win over Andy’s Lawn Care on Saturday.

Local Teams Involved

Two of the teams that played in the 27th annual tournament, Fitness Factory and Ma & Pa’s, play in the Monticello Men’s Softball League.
Less than two hours after winning the Monticello Men’s League title on Friday night, Fitness Factory played Grand Slam in the aforementioned opening-round game.
Perhaps feeding off the momentum from the league championship victory, Fitness Factory took a 5-0 lead over Grand Slam in the top of the first inning. Pete Rossiter and Aaron Dinkel hit RBI singles to give Fitness Factory a 2-0 advantage.
Jay Legenos ripped an RBI triple down the right field line to extend Fitness Factory’s lead to 3-0.
Alex Salazar added an RBI single and Matt Stoddard crossed home plate on an error to make it a 5-0 game.
But Grand Slam gradually chipped away at the lead. In the top of the fifth, Chad McConnell scored on a single by Price to close the Fitness Factory lead to 5-4.
In the top of the seventh, Price belted a double to left field to bring Tibubcio and Chad McConnell in with the tying and go-ahead runs, respectively.
Vasquez struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to seal the Grand Slam victory.
On Saturday, Fitness Factory rebounded with a 7-5 victory over Kessler Oil and an 11-2 win against Route 211 Liquors/Pizza Parlor. Shane Conner picked up the win against Kessler, while his uncle Merrill Conner, got the pitching victory against Route 211 Liquors/ Pizza Parlor.
Salazar had two RBI in the triumph over Kessler.
On Sunday, however, Fitness Factory was eliminated after a 4-0 loss to Andy’s Lawn Care.
Following a Saturday morning 10-1 loss to Budweiser, Ma & Pa’s defeated Lakewood, 12-9, later on Saturday behind the pitching of Jack Roeptger.
M. DeVries Concrete ended the tournament run for Ma & Pa’s on Sunday.

Individual, Team Awards Handed Out

Following the final game, Tournament Director Kiehl Morris and other tournament officials presented several awards.
Craig Lynch earned the Individual Sportsmanship Award, while the Budweiser squad took home the Team Sportsmanship Award.
Crower, who plays third base for Zubi’s, was honored with the Defense Award. Morris noted that Crower “is a good player who made a lot of good plays at third.”
Damien Stewart of Andy’s Lawn Care was named the MVP Pitcher.
Morris noted that the MVP award usually goes to one player, but this year’s tourney had two players who deserved that honor. Chad McConnell of Grand Slam, who batted well over .500 for the tournament, and Steve Platt of Zubi’s, who blasted several home runs, were named the Co-MVPs.
Morris then presented the first, second and third place team trophies to Grand Slam, Zubi’s and Andy’s Lawn Care, respectively.
According to Morris, the tournament, which is sponsored by Waalkill Engine Company #6 of Middletown, was successful once again.
“Part of the proceeds are used for a scholarship which we present to a recent local high school graduate,” he said.

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