By Rob Potter
MONGAUP VALLEY The 27th annual Edward M. Collins Memorial Softball Tournament held this past weekend at the park which bears Collins’ name had something for everyone.
The event featured mammoth home runs, outstanding pitching, big crowds, great food and drink at the concession stands and a helicopter.
That’s right, a helicopter.
When a rain shower on Sunday morning left the field completely soaked, members of the Smallwood-Mongaup Valley Fire Department (SMVFD) who maintain and operate Edward M. Collins Memorial Park called Michael Croissant.
Within minutes, Croissant, a Mongaup Valley resident who is a licensed pilot and helicopter owner, flew his helicopter to the park. He then hovered over the field for a few minutes to dry it.
Once Croissant and the chopper flew away, the tournament resumed but with one less team. The Legends, the defending men’s Major Modified national champion, decided to forfeit the rest of its games after defeating Switch Inn, 9-7, in the game just before the rain shower.
Even though it was only two more wins from the title game, the Legends forfeited, reportedly because the players had a five-hour drive back home to Massachusetts and because the team didn’t think the field would be playable again after the rain.
By Sunday evening, the only two teams left in the tourney were defending champion L&P Tree Service of Staten Island and Jorgenson’s, a team sponsored by a bar/restaurant in Milford, Pa.
L&P, which defeated Zubi’s Lawn Care, 10-2, in the loser’s bracket final, needed to defeat Jorgenson’s twice to claim the championship trophy for the second consecutive year. Things began well enough for L&P in the title game as it took an early 6-0 lead and went on to post a 9-2 victory.
In the subsequent “if” game, L&P grabbed a 3-1 advantage after two innings. But Jorgenson’s evened the score at 4-4 in the bottom of the third and went on to record an 8-6 victory to win the tournament.
The game-winning hit was Vinnie Malzahn’s two-run home run over the right field fence in the bottom of the sixth inning which broke a 6-6 tie.
In the top of the seventh, L&P attempted a comeback as Ron Lam hit a two-out single. But Jorgenson’s pitcher Chris Bogasch secured his team’s victory by striking out the next batter.
Bogasch also helped himself at the plate. In the bottom of the first inning, he put his team on the scoreboard with a solo home run to right field. The blast also cut the L&P lead to 2-1.
“We were down after losing the first game, but we played with a lot of heart in the second game,” Jorgenson’s Manager Jason McCann said. “We were playing for fun, not thinking about the win.
“But it feels great to win this tournament,” McCann added.
Mike Wambier gave L&P its aforementioned 3-1 lead by blasting a solo home run in the top of the second.
In the top of the third, L&P extended its advantage to 4-1 when Peter Tirado crossed home plate on a single by Mike Babakis.
Jorgenson’s wasted little time in tying the game, however.
With one out in the bottom of the frame, Malzahn singled and then scored on a double by Louie Kass. Rob Tully doubled to advance Kass to third base. Kass and Tully both scored when Mike Talmidge ripped a triple to the gap in left center field.
Kass and Tully hit consecutive RBI singles in the bottom of the fourth to give Jorgenson’s a 6-4 lead.
L&P knotted the game at 6-6 on Lam’s RBI single in the fifth and Scott Porto’s towering leadoff home run over the center field fence in the top of the sixth.
L&P handed Jorgenson’s its only loss of the weekend in the first championship game thanks to timely hitting and excellent pitching by Bink Degrote.
Rob Agnetti and Wambier each had an RBI single in L&P’s four-run fourth inning and Porto belted a two-run homer to left field in the top of the seventh.
Degrote allowed only four hits and two sixth-inning runs to earn the victory.
While both of the championship games were exciting, well-played games, there were many other such contests throughout the weekend. Perhaps the best game on Saturday was the contest between The Legends and Fitness Factory/D-Tech.
Fitness Factory/D-Tech, which is the reigning Monticello Men’s Softball League champion, had a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning of the loser’s bracket game. But Fitness Factory/D-Tech was eliminated in heart-breaking fashion when Andy Ruel hit a two-out, three-run homer to give The Legends an 8-7 win.
Tournament Director Dennis Dietrich was very pleased with how the weekend went. He noted that Saturday night was especially nice. He estimated at least 800 people were at the park that evening to watch some outstanding softball action.
“It was another great Collins Tournament,” Dietrich said after presenting the first, second and third place trophies to Jorgenson’s, L&P and Zubi’s, respectively. “I think it was the busiest it has been in the 27 years of the tournament. We had it all, rain, the ‘if’ game and the helicopter.”
Bogasch was named the tournament’s MVP Pitcher and he and Malzahn were chosen as the Co-MVPs. In addition, Tully earned the MVP Defense Award.
Fitness Factory/D-Tech won the “Life of the Party Award.”
Complete tournament results were as follows:
Zubi’s Lawn Care 4 • Fitness Factory/D-Tech 0
L&P Tree Service 5 • Globe/Andy’s Lawn Care 2
Jorgenson’s 7 • Huffcut Concrete, Inc. 4
Switch Inn 9 • R&R Wilmot Excavating 5
Zubi’s 8 • Fort Apache Dodgers 4
L&P 8• The Legends 4
Jorgenson’s 12 • Kestler’s Well Drilling 1
Globe/Andy’s 5 • Switch Inn 3
Fort Apache 6 • Huffcut 3
The Legends 8 • Fitness Factory/D-Tech 7
Globe/Andy’s 4 • Fort Apache 3
The Legends 17 • Kestler’s 2
Zubi’s 11 • Switch Inn 3
Jorgenson’s 12 • L&P 2
L&P 11 • Globe/Andy’s 6
The Legends 9 • Switch Inn 7
Jorgenson’s 11 • Zubi’s 3
L&P 10 • Zubi’s 2
L&P 9 • Jorgenson’s 2
Jorgenson’s 8 • L&P 6