By Benito Vila
Mathematics makes a difference in softball. Like baseball, it’s called a game of inches for the tiny margins between safe and out, fair and foul.
But there’s more than just spatial geometry involved. Batting averages, runs scored, RBIs, errors, walks, wins and losses all provide a paradise for the statistically inclined.
And at each season’s close, there are “magic numbers”: the number of wins and losses needed to secure playoff spots for some and eliminate others. With four teams vying for two spots going into the last week of play, the calculations of who was in or out were mind-boggling.
As always happens though, things were worked out on the field. Last night Sag Harbor Liquors (15-2) locked up the one seed, thrashing T&S Mott 13-2. Home runs by Jeff Hand and Brian Anderson gave Liquors a 6-0 lead in the second and three late-game misplays in right allowed Liquors to coast to the regular season title. The loss leaves Mott (14-3) as the two seed.
On Wednesday, Southampton Publick House swept a doubleheader from Decker’s Scrubs, securing the three seed for the pubsters and making the Scrubs the four seed. Losses by Pilinko Plumbing and Heating on Monday and Beyel Plumbing and Heating on Tuesday eliminated those teams and added some drama to Decker and Publick House twin bill.
But Publick House put up big numbers, taking game one, 16-0, and game two, 26-11, to gain the head-to-head tie-breaker over Decker and take the higher seed. Publick House pitcher Kristen Bartoldos said she was “on her game” in shutting out the Scrubs on five hits.
Three home runs by Bruce Sanders made her night easier. Sanders came on to pitch in the second game and saw C.J. Shank and Brant Reiner each hammer two over the fence in another run-away win.
The playoff semi-finals are scheduled to start Monday in Mashashimuet Park, Liquors hosting Decker at 7 p.m. and Mott taking on Publick House late. Those games switch for Tuesday, Monday’s late teams coming in early and the early teams late. After an off-day Wednesday, next Thursday will see either game three of the semis or game one of the best-of-five finals.
Standings and This Weeks’ Re-cap
The final standings had Liquors’ 15-2 finish putting them on top, Mott at 14-3 in second. Publick House was third at 9-9 with Decker fourth at 9-8, with Publick House’s owning the head-to-head tie-breaker pushing them ahead. Beyel, at 7-11, Pilinko, at 5-12, and the Sag Harbor Hysterical Society, at 2-16, are already looking to next year.
With rain once again interfering with the schedule last Thursday, games with playoff implications were re-scheduled first this week. That set up a match-up between Beyel and Decker early on Monday that Beyel took 29-16, the umpire suggesting a blocked punt had something to do with outcome.
Sean Beyel credited the win to good team play, saying, “Everybody contributed. It wasn’t just one guy. It was hits and walks up and down the order.” Every run was needed, especially after a two-run homer by the Scrubs’ Cory Cass and a grand slam from Frank Romeo made the score 24-16 in the sixth. Only fine defensive plays by Ike Birdsall in right and Noah Feinberg at second kept Decker from coming all the way back.
In the top of the seventh, a three-run shot by Chris Gregory and a line drive dinger by Vic Fehrm bought Beyel some breathing room. Two more “web gems” by Craig Berkoski at short and Jon Loren in center in the bottom of the seventh finally gave Beyel pitcher Mike D’Angelo the win.
In the late game Monday, Publick House outscored Pilinko 22-7. A 12-run third proved to be too much for Pilinko, the loss eliminating them from the playoffs. Two-run homers by Publick House’s catcher Shank and first baseman Scott Green set off the rally, breaking open a 6-5 game. Shank ended the rout with a walk-off home run in the sixth.
Beyel saw its post-season dream dashed Tuesday in a 19-4 loss to Liquors. A pair of two-run homers by Brian Anderson and a grand slam from Andy Tuthill gave Liquors 9-4 lead going into the seventh, before a 10-run barrage ended the game.
Publick House’s 14-5 loss to Mott in the late game Tuesday mattered little to the standings but made last night’s Decker-Publick House match-up much more meaningful. In getting the win, pitcher Bob Burden scattered 10 hits while Mott made the most of their 16. Keith Schulmann, Brendan Mott and Mike Lyons all legged out triples for Mott. A single by Sean Mott gave his team a 4-3 lead in the fifth and set off a five-run rally.
The most statistically improbable game occurred in last Wednesday’s early game, Liquors hammering the Hysterical Society 33-1. Liquors’ Joe Sullivan went six-for-six with five home runs and a double, knocking in an astounding 16 runs.
In the late game, Beyel built an early 10-3 lead over Publick House only to see it slip away. Publick House scored four in the bottom of the seventh to take the game, 13-12, with Logan Kirby tying the score with a two-out single to center and Danny Rowe driving in the go-ahead run.