By Laura Stabbert
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS The Stone Arch Inn did it again.
For the third year in a row, the men on the Stone Arch Inn softball team took home the first place trophy at the White Sulphur Springs Firemen’s Tournament, an annual fundraiser to support the fire department.
Stone Arch Inn started strong, beating Sutphen East at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and then topping Darder Stone Works on Saturday afternoon. Stone Arch Inn went on to beat Manor House Sunday morning. The Stone Arch players were then forced to wait out the day to see what team they would play in the championship game.
While the undefeated Stone Arch Inn team relaxed, the Hitmen, which already lost to Manor House, 14-11, in nine innings on Saturday night, fought throughout Sunday to stay alive in the double-elimination tourney.
The Hitmen started out by beating R&H Gorr, 20-10, in a game which ended early due to the 10- run mercy rule.
Next for the Hitmen was a contest against Darder Stone Works a team which gave the Hitmen a proverbial run for their money. The game was tied 9-9 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, but a home run to right field by Julian Dawson gave the Hitmen a one-run victory.
The Hitmen went on to play Manor House again. Manor House had a productive first inning as Tim Mills hit a homer with teammate Jason Garritt on base to stake Manor House to a 2-0 lead. But the Hitmen battled back to get the win.
After their third win of the day the Hitmen, with a record of 4-1 in the tournament, advanced to play the Stone Arch Inn (3-0) in the Sunday afternoon title tilt.
Stone Arch Inn came out swinging in the contest. The powerful hitting team scored six runs in the first inning off D.J. Pugh, who pitched every tournament game for the Hitmen.
Then it was Stone Arch Inn’s turn to take the field. Armed with great fielders and Tim “Chopper” Ackermann on the mound, Stone Arch Inn was a formidable foe for the Hitmen.
The Hitmen rallied to pull within a run at 6-5. But as the bottom of the sixth inning came, so did the rain and the game was temporarily suspended due to lightning.
When the rain ceased, the Hitmen, who were down 9-5, decided to call the game, making Stone Arch Inn the undefeated tournament champions.
Ackermann was named the tournament MVP.
Local Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) high school umpires, who use the White Sulphur Springs Firehouse for meetings during the winter, worked the tournament for free.
Those umpires included Bob Ackerley, Brett Cohen, Marvin Eversdyke, Mary Feusner, John Fischer, Jeff Gersten, Dan Hendrickson, Terry Lydecker, Scott Mickelson, Steve Nash, Paul Orr Edwin Perez, Amber Welton and “Head Groundskeeper” Kurt Scheibe.