By Benito Vila
It started ugly for T&S Mott last Thursday and didn’t get any better as the game went on, Sag Harbor Liquors coming away with a 14-4 win to take the 2010 Sag Harbor Mens’ FastPitch Softball League championship.
The league trophy left Mashashimuet Park the property of Billy Schmitz, Jeremy Karl, Kelly Fox, Jeff Hand, Andy Tuthill, Alex Tekulsky, Brian Anderson, Carl Johnson, Eddie Palomo, Yummi DePetris and Chris Schiaffino for the third time in four years, that group taking part in each Liquors title.
Newcomers Cory Samot and Joe Sullivan were part of the festivities for the first time, with Henry Meyer coming back to help topple Mott, the 2009 champion, after a few seasons away from the field.
Collectively the Liquors team pounded out 10 home runs in the three-game sweep, roping three in game one, three in game two and four in the finale.
But those long hits were not the only reason Liquors came away with the series, the defense behind ace Kelly Fox committing just one error in game two and none in game three to keep Mott from mounting any kind of charge.
While Liquors needed one clutch two-out hit after another to take game one 13-11, that near-flawless defense made the 12-1 game two final and the game three clincher easier than anyone would have ever expected.
Oops & Ouch
A Garrett Lowe single and a Sean Mott walk put two runners on for the Mott team in the top of the first on Thursday. A fielder’s choice and pop out ended that rally two batters later, Mott taking the field eager to keep Liquors from scoring.
That’s not how it worked out. Liquors’ first swing turned into a two-base error, and a single and a stolen base put runners at second and third with no one out.
A long fly to deep right by Joe Sullivan became a two-run sacrifice fly, Chris Schiaffino tagging up from second and sliding under the relay to the plate to give Liquors an early 2-0 lead.
With a walk and a Jared Schiavoni single, Mott managed to get two on in the top of the second with no one out, but a force out from the outfield and a 6-4-3 double play quickly ended the threat.
Liquors Takes It
Coming back in to hit, Liquors all but put the game away, singles by Cory Samot and Jeff Hand putting pressure on Mott and a line drive into the right field corner by Brian Anderson clearing the bases.
An errant relay brought in Anderson and the rout was on, back-to-back home runs by Schiaffino and Sullivan one out later making the score 7-0 Liquors.
Mott didn’t go quietly though, Mike Lyons and Sean Mott ripping long home runs in the top of the third, Liquors holding on 7-3. That Mott rally did little to change the outcome, a two-out hit by DePetris in the bottom of the third bringing in two runs and putting Liquors up 9-3.
In the fourth, a George Hoglund single, a wild pitch and a Mike Semkus single moved Mott a run closer.
The game stayed 9-4 until Liquors exploded for five runs in the bottom of the sixth, Schiaffino and Tuthill hammering shots over the fence to close out the scoring.
Liquors’ offense booming, Fox’ pitching was once again easy to overlook.
Although Mott reached her for 10 hits Thursday, she induced 13 outs in the air, six ground ball outs and struck out two to keep Mott from making much of their at-bats.
That determined game three followed up a dazzling game two where Fox scattered seven hits and never faced more than five batters in any single inning.
Still, by catching everything hit towards center in the series, and nailing two timely home runs in game one and one each in games two and three, Joe Sullivan also delivered an MVP effort.
Though no such award is given, the contributions of Schiaffino, Tekulsky, Meyer, Hand and Tuthill, both at bat and in the field, could fuel an MVP debate all through the winter.
But what cannot be argued is Liquors’ dominance of the league, the team collecting regular season and post-season titles this year and making the finals 13 times in the last 16 years.
The Mott team coming away dispirited, its reliable pitching and defense ripped apart and its bats kept quiet, the off-season begins with Liquors being the one to beat.