Rob Potter | Democrat
Several members of the Phoenix Enterprises softball team hold up two fingers to indicate the team has won two straight Liberty Slo-Pitch Softball League “A” Division championships. The team won its second title by defeating Ratner & Son Paving, 23-13, on Wednesday night in Game 3 of the “A” Division finals series. Kneeling in the front row, from left to right, are Adam Birkett, Mike Poje, Corey Van Keuren, Dan Ratner Jr. and Dez Williams. Standing in the back row, from left to right, are Adam Lake, Mike Kushetsky, Scott Hamlin, Matt Stoddard, Carl Sherwood and Kort Wheeler. Missing from photo are Chris Lake and Anthony Riente.
Home runs help Phoenix Enterprises win ‘A’ Division championship
By Rob Potter
LIBERTY The Phoenix Enterprises Excavating and Landscaping softball team dialed long distance to earn a victory on Wednesday night at Liberty Elementary School.
Phoenix Enterprises hit five home runs to defeat Ratner & Son Paving, 23-13, in Game 3 of the Liberty Slo-Pitch Softball League “A” Division finals series.
Ratner & Son won Game 1 of the series on Saturday night by the final score of 14-6. Phoenix Enterprises evened the series at a game apiece with a 16-10 victory on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday night, however, the Phoenix Enterprises offense dominated the game.
Ratner & Son took its only lead of the evening in the top of the first inning. Mitch Juron scored when Terrence Hulse reached base on a fielder’s choice. Frank Scuderi then scored on a single by Brandan Katz to give Ratner & Son a 2-0 advantage.
But Phoenix Enterprises took a 6-2 lead in the bottom of the first. Leadoff batter Mike Kushetsky hit an inside-the-park home run to right field for the team’s first run of the game. An RBI single by Corey VanKeuren and a sacrifice fly by Adam Birkett gave Phoenix Enterprises a 3-2 advantage.
Dez Williams had an RBI single and Mike Poje hit a two-run double to give Phoenix Enterprises its 6-2 lead.
Ratner & Son rallied to tie the game at 6-6 in the top of the second. Juron and Scuderi both hit two-run singles as the team knotted the score.
Phoenix Enterprises regained the lead for good in the bottom of the second. Kushetsky scored the go-ahead run when Adam Lake hit a sacrifice fly to center field. Moments later, Kort Wheeler ripped a three-run double to deep center field to extend the Phoenix Enterprises lead to 10-6.
Wheeler scored the final run of the frame on a sacrifice fly by Williams.
In the bottom of the third, Kushetsky and VanKeuren belted solo home runs over the outfield fence to push the Phoenix Enterprises advantage to 13-6.
Ratner & Son closed its deficit to 13-8 in the top of the fifth as Hulse hit a two-run, inside-the-park home run.
Phoenix Enterprises responded with four runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 17-8 lead. The key hits in the inning included an RBI double by Birkett and RBI singles by Wheeler and Poje.
Scott Hamlin and Williams both hit three-run home runs over the center field fence in the bottom of the sixth to extend the Phoenix Enterprises lead to 23-8.
Ratner & Son kept playing hard in the top of the seventh, scoring five runs in its final at-bat. Jeff Yaun hit a two-run single, James Ratner hit a sacrifice fly and Juron hit a two-run double to make it a 23-13 game.
But after Juron’s double, Phoenix Enterprises pitcher Wheeler ended the game by inducing a groundout.
“We hit the ball well tonight,” said Phoenix Enterprises Player/Coach Dan Ratner Jr. “Kort Wheeler pitched a great game and we played good defense. It was a great team effort.”
Ratner and his teammates were especially happy because they accomplished their goal of repeating as “A” Division champions.
“That was definitely the goal for this season,” he said. “We won the regular season championship and repeated as playoff champions. It wasn’t easy, though. We lost the first game of this series to Ratner & Son and had to win these last two games. Ratner & Son has a good team and they made this a tough series.”
After Mitch Juron and his Ratner & Son teammates had their picture taken with the second place trophy, he praised teammate Bobby Sze and his wife Tammy Sze for all they do for the Liberty Slo-Pitch Softball League.
“They are here every night keeping score of the games and writing down all of the stats to put on the league website,” Juron said of the couple. “They do a great job.”