Wednesday, July 2, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!

Softball belongs to summer and summer belongs to softball....
America's favorite summer pastime is in full throttle before we tumble into the Fourth


In the game of softball, the road to redemption can begin with one simple hit.
Last week, costly errors and the lack of offensive punch materialized, as the H-town Bangers suffered an 18-5 blowout at the hands of Pete’s Saloon, the top team in the Greenburgh Summer Arc Pitch League. Pete’s Saloon was simply teeing off against the Bangers last week as they’re summer stock took a sudden tumble.
After a two-week layoff due to inclement weather, the team wasn’t expecting to get the sticks going right away. But the shellacking was certainly a setback for a team that’s looking to create some clamor on this summer’s softball circuit.
Nobody wanted to get the taste of a defeating loss out of their mouths worse than Charlie Berger and Brian Martin, a pair of Hastings-bred team leaders and the elder statesman on the 18-and-over squad.
And so it was the finest outing of the season for the Bangers, who came climbing out of an early 4-0 hole and coasted to a 12-4 victory over Greenburgh-based DHLX under the brimming lights at Rumbrook Park Monday night.
Berger, with his clutch situational hitting, and Martin, behind some dazzling, momentum-killing catches out in left center, led the way for the Bangers. With the win, the Bangers climbed to an even .500 (4-4) and catapulted to third place in the men’s league.
“We came to hit tonight,” said Charlie Berger, still sweating profusely while sporting his blue-and-white uniform en route to the parking lot.
“Honestly, we should be putting up 20 runs (in that type of game) but we hit really well, everyone hit for the most part. We actually had a bunch of sac flys. It was a situation were everyone contributed. We’ll take it, we’ll take it everyday of the week.”
A sound defense engineered by winning pitcher Keith Fagan allowed Hastings to sustain the momentum after the Bangers came roaring back from the four-run deficit in the bottom of the third.
He induced ground balls. He instigated quick hacks at the ball and kept the ball in the infield.
Fagan’s efficient mix of pitches kept DHLX’s hitters guessing Monday night. Taking advantage of the wider strike zone that’s utilized in Arc Pitch softball, Fagan’s stuff was high-and-deep and short-and-flat. This was essential in keeping their power hitters off-balance.
“Keith’s pitching has really come a long way over the course of the season,” explained Charlie Berger.
“It’s an arc pitch league, so if he throws it 12 feet high, the ball lands in the back of the strike zone. If he throws it short, it lands in the front of the strike zone. It keeps guys off guard. He’s very strategic.”
Noah Berger was a catalyst in the high-horsepower offense, going 3-for-4 at the dish.
The Bangers took a 5-4 lead on a sac fly from Dom Delvino (2-for-2, RBI) and never looked back. The Bangers dunked in singles and ran off a succession of sac flys, allowing the lead to balloon.
It was an all-cylinders performance that the Bangers had been anticipating.
In one of the game’s more controversial moments, Tim Braig launched a 340-foot double. The umps ruled the shot a double because Braig “neglected to step on third.”
In a slightly more amusing play, Delvino—who tips the scales at around 300 pounds—tried stretching a hard-hit double into a triple.
Not so fast.
The gargantuan was called out (by a mile) at third base, engendering outbursts of laughter from his own dugout.
It wasn’t all laughs, however, as a couple of Martin’s highlight-reel catches raised eyebrows. Martin gloved shots on dives and long chases to the fence and his hustle set the tone for a solid performance defensively.
While Berger maintains his assertion that the Bangers are a team that's ready to take flight, he was quick to admit that the team was having a good deal of fun as well.
“Continuing team camaraderie, the home team and some of the supporting girls in attendance are going to Clarke’s Bar in Hastings to celebrate," he said.