By Benito Vila
Baseball and softball are unique in that the home team always has a chance to win, the last at-bat favoring the game’s host. That peculiar rule has meant little though in the match-ups between T&S Mott and Sag Harbor Liquors this season.
The regular season games saw Liquors leave the park with wins the two times they were the visitors, Mott getting a win the only time they were. With the two teams playing for the championship of the Sag Harbor Mens’ Fastpitch League this week, the trend has continued.
Mott, coming in as the lower seed and sitting in the visitors’ dugout, took game one last Thursday, 5-4. Liquors ran around the bases freely in game two Monday, outscoring Mott 15-1, the home team humbled in falling behind 14-0 in the fourth.
Game three Tuesday saw both teams play scoreless ball for the first two innings, before Mott went up 3-0 in the top of the third. A six-run Mott fourth and a seven-run fifth, left Liquors down 16-0 and looking at a “mercy rule” loss.
Coming up with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, Liquors kept the game going, but Mott managed to push across two more in the top of the sixth to end the contest with the score 18-5. The win gives Mott a two-games-to-one advantage in the best-of-five series.
Tonight, Liquors takes the visitors’ dugout looking to force a game five on Monday. Mott meanwhile is hoping to get a win for the home team and walk out of the park with its first title since 2005.
First pitch tonight is set for 7:15 p.m. with the same time scheduled for Monday, should that game be needed. With the way the games have gone, both teams will be on their way to the park Monday, Mott as the visitor and Liquors, the defending champs, as the host.
Thursday’s 5-4 final
A four-run Mott sixth proved to be difference in game one, Sean Mott driving in Mike Semkus, who reached on a walk, and Keith Schulmann, who had doubled to move Semkus to third. Mike Labrozzi followed Mott with a home run to make the score 5-3 Mott.
Liquors rallied for a run in the sixth. Jeremy Karl leading off with a single, advancing to second on a fly ball and scoring on an infield error. Mott pitcher Bob Burden induced three fly balls in the sixth and three more in the seventh to close out the win.
Burden scattered eight hits in all Thursday, three coming in Liquors’ first at-bat, Chris Schiaffino, Joe Sullivan and Karl combining for two runs and an early lead. Liquors’ ace Kelly Fox kept Mott scoreless until the fourth, Sean Mott knocking a pitch out to make it a 2-1 game.
Liquors added a run in the home fifth, Eddie Palomo leading off with a double and Schiaffino doubling him home.
Monday’s 15-1 blowout
Fox was on her game Monday, matching her seven-hit, three strikeout performance in game one. But yielding only one extra-base hit, and that coming in the sixth when the score was already 14-0, Fox and the defense behind her limited Mott to no more than five batters in any inning.
That was not the case for the Liquors line-up, which pounded out 21 hits, batting around once and sending eight men to the plate twice. Five runs in the third, five more in the fourth and four in the fifth made it a one-sided game.
The biggest blasts for Liquors came off the bats of Andy Tukelsky and Jeff Hand in the third, both hitting balls over the fence to build a 5-0 lead. In the fourth, hits by Sullivan, Karl and Hand and heads-up baserunning by Andy Tuthill made the most of a pair of walks, leaving Mott to wonder when it would all end. Billy Schmitz singled to cap the two-out five-run rally that left Liquors up 10-0.
A bases-clearing double by Tuthill and an RBI single by Karl in the fifth made the score 14-0, Mott suddenly finding itself a run away from a “mercy-rule” loss. Up against that unwanted ending, Burden pitched around a pair of singles and a walk in the top of the sixth to keep the game going.
In the bottom of the inning, Mott pushed across a run on a Schulmann double and a Fred Marienfeld single to finally make a mark in the scorebook. It turned out Mott needed that run, Karl leading off the seventh with a home run to finish out the scoring at 15-1.
Tuesday’s 18-3 finish
The dugouts had their effect again Tuesday, the visitors, Mott, banging out 24 hits to Liquors’ seven in taking the series lead. Singles by Tyler Gilbride, Semkus and Schulmann to lead off the Mott third brought in two runs, with a Labrozzi double scoring a third.
Singles by Garrett Lowe, Gilbride, Semkus and Schulmann sparked a six-run rally in the fourth, Labrozzi ripping a two-run homer to close out the scoring. The same batters came up again in the fifth and tallied seven runs, this time Semkus and Schulmann knocking back-to-back doubles, setting up an RBI single by Sean Mott and another rally-ending shot by Labrozzi.
Not willing to go down without making some noise, a Palomo walk and a Yummy DePetris single started a Liquors comeback in the fifth, singles by Tukelsky, Sullivan and Tuthill scoring three. Despite that effort, Mott walked off in the top of the sixth, Lowe driving in Mark Locascio and pinch-runner Brendan Mott.