By Rob Potter
LIBERTY Since the Beaverkill Valley Fire Department and Prestige Towing teams split the first two games of the Liberty Slo-Pitch Softball League’s “B” Division Finals on Tuesday night, Aug. 19, it was only fitting that the third and deciding game of the series was close and competitive.
Faced with a 13-12 deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 3, which was played on Friday night, Aug. 22 at Liberty Elementary School, Prestige Towing scored two runs to capture the title with a dramatic 14-13 victory.
Josh Mendez led off the bottom of the seventh for Prestige Towing and promptly singled to center field. Mendez went to third base when Keith Smith reached base on an error.
Timeout was called and Phil Norris trotted out to first base to pinch-run for Smith. Robert Curry then stepped into the batter’s box and singled to center field, which allowed Mendez to cross home plate and knot the score at 13-13.
The next batter, Steve Avery, singled to left field. Norris, who had been on second base, took off as soon as he saw the ball reach the outfield. Norris rounded third and sprinted toward home plate.
As the throw from the outfield sailed high over the head of Beaverkill Valley FD catcher Rob Buck, Norris crossed the plate standing up to give Prestige Towing a one-run win and the first place trophy. As soon as he touched the plate, Norris was congratulated by all of his teammates.
Perhaps the most excited Prestige Towing player to greet Norris was catcher Billy Dertinger. He (Dertinger) said that he has been playing in the Liberty Slo-Pitch Softball League for 24 years and this was the first time he was a member of a championship team.
“Both teams played a great game and we’re very happy to win it,” Prestige Towing Player/Coach Gene Smith said following the contest. “Congratulations to Beaverkill Valley Fire Department for a good season.”
In just its third year as a team, Prestige Towing posted an 18-4 record this summer on the way to earning the “B” Division title.
“We had a great season,” Smith said. “We would thank our sponsor, Sean Brooks, who is the owner of Prestige Towing, for all of his support.”
Beaverkill Valley FD (16-7) faced a 12-10 deficit entering the top of the seventh inning. But consecutive singles by Keith Buck and Aaron Carlson put two runners on base with no outs. Paul Hahn then singled to left field to bring Buck in to score.
Carlson, who advanced to third base on Hahn’s base hit, scored the tying run when Tim Rider hit a sacrifice fly to right field.
After the second out of the inning was recorded, Adam Carlson singled to center field to bring Hahn in to score and give Beaverkill Valley FD a 13-12 advantage.
But the Prestige Towing pitcher, Keith Smith, prevented Beaverkill Valley FD from extending its advantage when he got the next batter to hit a pop fly behind home plate which Dertinger caught for the final out of the inning.
Prestige Towing took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to an RBI double by Bill Curry and RBI singles by C.C. Hinkley Jr. and Norris.
Beaverkill Valley FD answered with three runs in the top of the second. Hahn scored on a base hit by Adam Carlson, John Henry Schleiermacher crossed the plate on an error and Carlson scored on Scott Depew’s sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the second, Prestige Towing scored three times to take a 7-3 lead. The key hit in the frame was a two-run single by Jonathan Hinkley.
After Beaverkill Valley FD scored a run in the top of the third and another in the top of the fourth to close to within two runs at 7-5, Prestige Towing responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Jonathan Hinkley, Mike Beach and Bill Curry each recorded an RBI single as Prestige Towing pushed its advantage to 10-5.
However, Beaverkill Valley FD closed to within a run at 10-9 in the top of the fifth as Hahn, Rider and Schleiermacher hit back-to-back-to-back RBI singles.
In the top of the sixth, Beaverkill Valley FD tied the game at 10-10. With one out, Pat Severing doubled to right field. After another out was registered, Severing scored on Josh Meddaugh’s single.
Prestige Towing then took a 12-10 lead in the bottom of the sixth on C.C. Hinkley Jr.’s two-run, inside-the-park homer.