By Rob Potter
MONGAUP VALLEY The Collins Classic, the first of several softball tournaments slated to be held this summer at Edward M. Collins Memorial Park in Mongaup Valley, was held this past weekend.
The tourney, which was held for the first time ever, featured nine men’s major modified pitch teams from around the Northeast. The teams were: Katman Sports of Fairhaven, Mass. which won the 2007 men’s major modified national championship, Fairway of the Halfmoon of Albany, Fitness Factory of Monticello, Fort Apache Dodgers of New York City, Huffcut Concrete of Middletown, Grand Slam Auto of Maybrook, P&R Axemen of Staten Island, Rockland Revolution of Rockland County and Zubi’s Lawn Care of Middletown.
Games began Friday night and continued all day Saturday into Saturday night. When rain postponed two games on Saturday night, Tournament Director Dennis Dietrich moved those games to Sunday morning to get the tourney back on schedule.
By about 2 p.m. on Sunday, only three teams Grand Slam, Katman Sports and Zubi’s Lawn Care remained in the double-elimination competition.
In the loser’s bracket final, Zubi’s edged Grand Slam, 4-3, thanks to a seventh-inning solo home run by Frank DeGroat.
Zubi’s only had a few minutes to celebrate that victory before facing Katman Sports in the championship game. And to win the tournament, Zubi’s needed to beat Katman Sports, which was undefeated on the weekend, twice.
The championship game featured great hits, stellar defensive plays and good pitching. When the contest ended, Katman Sports earned the first-place trophy with a come-from-behind 6-5 victory.
Trailing 5-4 entering the top of the seventh, Katman Sports scored twice to take the lead. Jim Innocent evened the score at 5-5 with an RBI triple. He scored what proved to be the game-winning run moments later on a single by Josh Horton.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Billy Lewis ripped a double to deep right field to keep the game going for Zubi’s. But Katman Sports pitcher Dan Carnwell got the next batter to fly out to end the game.
Zubi’s grabbed an early 4-0 lead. Jeff Hook hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning for the first run of the game. Zubi’s added three runs in the bottom of the third on a two-run double by Steve Ewanciw and an RBI single by Danny Welch.
Katman Sports got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when Andy DeValles smashed a solo home run to left-center field.
Back-to-back RBI doubles by Al Martin and Horton in the top of the fifth brought Katman Sports to within a run at 4-3.
Zubi’s answered with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Lewis singled with two outs and scored on a base hit by Hook.
In the top of the sixth, Katman Sports again closed to within a run as Shane Reul homered.
“That is the same team we beat to win the national championship in 2007,” Katman Sports Coach Gil Modesto said of Zubi’s. “They have some very good players on that team.”
“Our pitching and defense are usually very good,” Katman Sports Assistant Coach Joe Maple said. “We just need to get a few good hits to win. As long as we hit, we feel we can play with anybody.”
Maple praised the play of Tocco Soto in particular.
“He made some great defensive plays and had some big hits,” Maple said.
Not too surprisingly, Soto was named the tournament’s MVP.
Wiley Billings of Katman Sports was chosen as the tournament’s Most Valuable Pitcher and Shawn Myers of Zubi’s was selected as the tournament’s Most Valuable Defensive Player.
Dietrich was very pleased with how the inaugural Collins Classic turned out.
“It was a great tournament,” he said. “We saw some terrific softball played this weekend.”
Dietrich is hopeful next year’s Collins Classic will attract even more teams.