By Rob Potter
LIBERTY The team’s name may be different, but its winning tradition continues.
Dutch’s Bombers defeated Manor House of Furniture & Appliances, 25-20, on Thursday night in Game 2 of the Liberty Slo-Pitch Softball League’s “A” Division finals. The victory, coupled with the team’s lopsided 32-2 win in the series opener the previous evening, allowed Dutch’s Bombers, which is sponsored by Dutch’s Tavern in Rock Hill, to capture the “A” Division championship trophy.
Dutch’s Bombers, which was formerly known as Cobbler’s Bombers, has now won the “A” Division title for five straight years. In addition, the team posted a 41-0 record during the past two seasons.
Dutch’s wasted little time in grabbing the lead and momentum in Wednesday night’s contest. With one out and two teammates on base in the top of the first inning, Will Smith blasted a three-run homer to left center field. Two batters later, Steve Vlaovich hit the ball to deep right field. He sprinted around the bases for an inside-the-park home run, which gave Dutch’s a 4-0 advantage.
But Manor House (13-9) rallied to take the lead in the bottom of the frame. RBI singles by George Helms and Ryan Edwards allowed Manor House to pull to within two runs at 4-2.
After Ryan Edwards singled, John Gorr ripped a triple to left field to score both Ryan Edwards and his brother, Scott Edwards, who reached base on an infield hit.
When the throw from the outfield to third base was errant, Gorr quickly ran down the line and crossed home plate to give Manor House a 5-4 lead.
Unfortunately for the Manor House players, their lead did not last too long. With one out in the top of the second, Keith Shaddock doubled to center field. He tied the game at 5-5 when he crossed home plate on Dan Gallo’s triple.
The next batter, Matt Stoddard, smashed a pitch over the left center field fence to give Dutch’s a 7-5 advantage.
But Manor House answered with six runs in the bottom of the second to take a 13-7 lead. Key hits in the frame included RBI doubles by Tim Mills and Evan Irwin.
Dutch’s tied the contest at 13-13 in the top of the third. Vlaovich ripped a two-run homer to left field to close the Manor House advantage to 13-9. Moments later, Gallo scored the tying run on a single by John Rusin.
In the bottom of the third, Mitch Peck led off with a single to left field and scored later in the inning on Scott Edwards’ infield single to give Manor House a 14-13 advantage.
But Dutch’s took the lead for good in the top of the fourth. Mark Logan knotted the score at 14-14 when he scored on William Merchant’s single to right field.
John Brewer scored the go-ahead run on Shaddock’s sacrifice fly.
Dutch’s added six runs in the top of the fifth to extend its lead to 21-14. Adam Lake and Vlaovich hit solo home runs in the frame to pace the Dutch’s offense.
Manor House cut its deficit to 21-16 in the bottom of the fifth when Mills blasted a two-run homer to left field.
After Dutch’s scored a pair of runs in the top of the sixth, Manor House answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame. Manor House’s Josh Belle led off with an infield hit and the next batter, Irwin, hit a home run to center field.
In the top of the seventh, Brewer smacked an RBI double and Shaddock hit a sacrifice fly to extend the Dutch’s advantage to 25-18.
In its final at-bat, Manor House attempted to rally for the win. Helms started the bottom of the seventh with a single and Mills followed with a home run to center field, which closed the Dutch’s lead to 25-20.
But the Dutch’s pitcher, Gallo, set down the next three batters in order to clinch the title.
Shaddock, who is the Dutch’s coach, noted that chemistry is one of the keys to the team’s success.
“We are all friends off the field,” he said. “During the year, we go to each other’s family events like birthday parties and picnics.
“We would like to thank our sponsors, Ed and Krissy Gallet, the owners of Dutch’s Tavern,” Shaddock added.
Shaddock gave credit to Manor House, noting that the team “played some great softball.”
Of course, he also praised his teammates for their performance.
“It was a little rough early in the game, but then we started to settle down and play better,” Shaddock commented. “Matt Stoddard and Steve Vlaovich hit the ball very well in the playoffs.”
Following the game, Stoddard was named the Dutch’s MVP for the season.