Rob Potter | Democrat
SEVERAL MEMBERS OF the Fitness Factory/D-Tech softball team and their family members and friends hold up four fingers to indicate that the team won its fourth consecutive Monticello Men’s Softball League title on Thursday night at Kenneth H. Somerville Memorial Field. Kneeling in the front row, from left to right, are Jahir McCullough, Anthony Gugliotta, Morgan VanKeuren, Dennis J. Rivera, Dennis Rivera, Daniel Rivera, Shane Conner, Serafin Rodriguez, Edwin Jones, Edwin “Flaco” Rodriguez and Dee Diaz. Standing in the back row, from left to right, are Jay Falasca, Dan Gallo, Tashana McCullough, Penny Ackermann, Tim “Chopper” Ackermann, Raquel Rivera, Derwin Rivera, JoJo VanKeuren, Julian Dawson, Alex Salazar, B.J. Salazar, Des Gonzalez and Tracy Gonzalez. Missing from the photo are Steve Rivera and scorekeeper Autumn Ackermann.
Four's the charm in Monti League
By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO Call it a “four-peat.”
The Fitness Factory/D-Tech softball team won its fourth consecutive Monticello Men’s Softball League championship on Thursday night at Kenneth H. Somerville Memorial Field by sweeping Styles Barber Shop in the best-of-three game finals series.
Fitness Factory/D-Tech won the opening game, 13-4, and secured the title with a 13-3 triumph in Game 2.
Fitness Factory/D-Tech finished the season with a 24-1 record, while Styles Barber Shop went 19-4 on the year.
Styles Barber Shop was the only Monticello Men’s Softball League team to defeat Fitness Factory/D-Tech this summer. In a late-season contest, Styles scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to record a 13-12 victory.
“We wanted to win this series to get some revenge against Styles,” said Fitness Factory/D-Tech Coach Edwin “Flaco” Rodriguez. “But we like the Styles players, they are a great bunch of guys.”
In Game 1, Fitness Factory/D-Tech grabbed a 5-0 lead in the first two innings.
The team added to its advantage in the bottom of the third. Mike Weiner hit a two-run single and Derwin Rivera added an RBI single to give Fitness Factory/D-Tech an 8-0 lead.
Styles answered with three runs in the top of the fourth. Mike Talmadge and Lance Beecher had RBI doubles in the frame and Beecher scored on a base hit by Vinny Radesca.
But Fitness Factory/D-Tech got those runs back in the bottom of the fourth as Julian Dawson belted a three-run, inside-the-park homer to deep right center field.
Styles cut the Fitness Factory/D-Tech lead to 11-4 in the top of the fifth as J.D. Gallo doubled and then scored on a single by Josh Card.
In the bottom of the fifth, Fitness Factory/D-Tech added two runs. Shane Conner hit an RBI single and Jay Falasca earned an RBI when he reached base on a fielder’s choice and Derwin Rivera scored on the play.
Following a scoreless sixth inning, Fitness Factory/D-Tech pitcher JoJo VanKeuren retired the Styles batters in order in the top of the seventh to earn the victory in the pitcher’s circle.
As the designated “away” team in Game 2, Fitness Factory/D-Tech batted first. And the team made the most of its opportunity.
Dawson hit a sacrifice fly and Dennis Rivera singled to left field to stake Fitness Factory/D-Tech to a 2-0 lead. Later in the inning, Alex Salazar scored on a passed ball and Rivera crossed home plate when Des Gonzalez reached base on an error to push the Fitness Factory/D-Tech advantage to 4-0.
Styles cut its deficit to 4-2 in the bottom of the first as Mike Talmadge hit an RBI single.
Fitness Factory/D-Tech scored four runs in the top of the second. Keith Shaddock had an RBI single and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Dawson. Moments later, Falasca scored on a wild pitch and Salazar hit an RBI double.
Fitness Factory/D-Tech added three runs in the top of the third thanks to an illegal pitch, an error and Conner’s sacrifice fly.
Styles’ Billy Schutz singled to bring Gallo around to score in the bottom of the third, making it an 11-3 game.
Fitness Factory/D-Tech scored its final two runs of the night in the top of the fifth. Weiner crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly by Derwin Rivera and Serafin Rodriguez scored on an error.
In the bottom of the fifth, Fitness Factory/D-Tech pitcher Tim “Chopper” Ackermann retired the first two batters on a groundout and fly out, respectively, before allowing an infield hit to Jon Corey. But Ackermann got the next batter to fly out to right field, which ended the game due to the league’s 10-run mercy rule.
The Fitness Factory/D-Tech players then ran to the pitcher’s circle and exchanged high fives to celebrate their fourth straight league title.
“The whole team played well,” Edwin “Flaco” Rodriguez said. “[Tim] ‘Chopper’ [Ackermann] and JoJo [VanKeuren] pitched great games, we hit the ball and we played great defense.”
While noting that every member of the team played a role in the finals series wins, Rodriguez singled out Derwin Rivera for his performance.
“Derwin did a great job offensively and played well in the field,” Rodriguez said.
While Rodriguez was extremely pleased that he and his Fitness Factory/D-Tech teammates have won four Monticello Men’s Softball League championships in a row, he was also relieved.
“We overcame a lot of obstacles this season,” Rodriguez explained. “We had some injuries and we missed Aaron ‘Red’ Dinkel, who moved back to Utah.”
Rodriguez credited his team’s good chemistry as being the key to another championship season.
“We’re all teammates and good friends,” he said. “We get together throughout the year for parties and family events.”
“We’re friends beyond the softball field,” Shaddock added.