By Rob Potter
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS The 2009 Eastern Sullivan Firefighters Softball League playoffs are off to an exciting start.
On Tuesday night at Gary A. Bradley Memorial Field at the White Sulphur Springs Firemen’s Park, the White Sulphur Springs FD team edged visiting Neversink FD, 13-12, by scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh inning.
With the win, WSSFD took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three-game semifinal series. Game 2 was scheduled to be played last night at the Neversink FD field.
WSSFD, which finished second in the league’s regular season, faced a 12-11 deficit heading into its final at-bat. But Chad Roth started the inning with a bloop double to right center field and Mike Black walked to put two runners on base. After an out was recorded, Josh Schwartz became the courtesy runner for Black.
Ricky Franke then walked to load the bases.
The next batter, Devin Day, hit a fly ball to center field and the Neversink FD outfielder ran into catch the ball. But the ball hit the side of his glove and bounced away from him.
Once the ball eluded the fielder, Roth and Schwartz sprinted home to score the tying and winning runs, respectively.
Neversink FD took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Andy Garigliano belted a two-run triple to center field and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Costa.
Costa scored the last run of the inning when Tom Byrne singled to center field.
WSSFD cut Neversink FD’s lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the first. Leadoff batter Matt DeWitt singled and scored on a triple by Schwartz.
Following an out, Schwartz scored on a sacrifice fly by Black.
WSSFD tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the second. Day and Tim Fink both crossed home plate when Ryan Barber ripped a double to center field.
Each team scored a run in the third inning.
In the top half of the inning, Costa scored on a single by Byrne to give Neversink FD a 5-4 advantage. In the bottom half of the inning, Schwartz blasted a triple to center field and scored when Roth hit a sacrifice fly.
A two-run single by Garigliano in the top of the fourth gave Neversink FD a 7-5 lead.
Neversink FD extended its lead to 12-5 in the top of the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Ed McCarthy singled to score Ryan Barkley and Tom Conjura.
The next batter, John Shamro, smacked a triple to bring Matt Smith and McCarthy around to score. Shamro then crossed the plate on a base hit by Costa.
WSSFD scored six times in the bottom of the sixth to make it a one-run game. Schwartz and Roth hit consecutive singles and Black followed with a base hit to score Schwartz.
After Joe Decker walked to load the bases, Franke singled to center field. Schwartz and Roth both scored on the hit to cut the Neversink FD lead to 12-8.
Later in the inning, Tim Pellam and DeWitt hit RBI singles and Tim Fink hit a sacrifice fly to make it a 12-11 game.
After allowing a leadoff single to Shamro in the top of the seventh, WSSFD pitcher Ryan Calkin retired the next three batters to keep it a one-run game.
Note: The winner of the series will face the winner of the other best-of-three semifinal series between Smallwood-Mongaup Valley FD and White Lake FD in the best-of-three championship series. SMVFD and White Lake FD were slated to play Game 1 of their series last night.