By Lori Brown
LIBERTY On Monday night, the Hot Shotz and Ratner & Son Paving teams met for a Liberty Slo-Pitch Softball League A/B Division game at the Liberty Elementary School.
Both teams struggled to field a full complement of players as Ratner & Son Paving played with nine men and Hot Shotz played with 10 guys.
Ratner & Son Paving took an early lead and went on to record an 11-9 victory.
Ratner & Son Paving shut down the Hot Shotz in the top of the first inning as pitcher Mike Juron threw only four pitches and his team helped him have a 1-2-3 inning.
Ratner & Son Paving’s Aaron Dinkel hit an RBI triple to deep left field to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Hot Shotz tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the second. Dan Cavanagh hit a leadoff triple to left-center field and scored on a single by Andrew Garigliano.
Ratner & Son Paving answered by scoring four runs in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded and two outs, Juron hit a double to clear the bases. Frank Scuderi hit a single to score pitch runner Jim Piontek, which gave Ratner & Son Paving a 5-1 advantage.
Hot Shotz got one of those runs back in the top of the third when Merrill Steinhilber singled to score Mike Barrett.
Ratner & Son Paving turned a double play to end the inning as second baseman Mike Mulligan caught a line drive and threw to first base to get a runner out.
In the bottom of the third, Ratner & Son Paving tacked on three runs. James Ratner and Mulligan both had RBI singles. Ratner tagged up for another run on a sacrifice fly ball to deep left field.
In the top of the fourth, Ratner & Son Paving turned another double play to prevent Hot Shotz from scoring.
Ratner & Son Paving added a run in the bottom of the frame when Mitch Juron hit a single to score Dinkel, which gave the team a 9-2 advantage.
Hot Shotz had a great fifth inning, cutting their deficit to just one run. Steinhilber hit a triple, scoring both Barrett and Mike Walsh. Also crossing home plate in the inning were Bobby Dupont, Steinhilber, Jason Mekulik and Cavanagh.
Ratner & Son Paving finally ended the inning by throwing out Garigliano at home plate after an error at third base.
In the bottom of the fifth, Piontek hit a double which allowed Scuderi and Dinkel to score and give Ratner & Son Paving an 11-8 lead.
Both teams played great defense in the sixth inning as the score remained the same.
In the top of the seventh, Hot Shotz tried to score at least three runs to keep the game going. Mekulik singled to bring Steinhilber around to score and make it a two-run game.
Unfortunately for Hot Shotz, they could not score any more runs in the frame.
With the loss, Hot Shotz’ season record fell to 1-8.
“We lost a lot of close games,” Hot Shotz Manager Dan Cavanagh said. “We had to hit the ball better. We do not give up. We show up on the field ready to go.”
With the win, Ratner & Son Paving improved to 4-4 on the young season.
“We only had nine guys today,” Jim Piontek said. “Mike Juron pitched a good game today.
“We played great defense,” Piontek added. “Our catcher, Frank Scuderi, stopped the rally in the fifth inning with a good catch.”