The championship series of the Sag Harbor fastpitch softball league came to its conclusion last Monday, August 6, when Mott swept the regular season champions Immaculate in three straight games. Heading into the series, Mott was cruising, having swept Liquor easily in the semi-finals. Immaculate, on the other hand, suffered a shaky semi-final, but after a tough loss against Decker, they were able to come back and win two straight to make it into the championship.
It appeared that the best of five series would have in store stellar hitting performances, where runs from each team would flood in. Ultimately, Immaculate could not string runs together, and lost each game by almost ten runs or more.
Game one of the series took place July 31, and kicked off in an unusual fashion for the teams involved. Both Mott and Immaculate went down one-two-three in their first at-bats, but followed up in the second inning with solo homeruns that put both teams on the board. After two runs in the second inning Immaculate was held at the plate, and was unable to advance on the bases. While Immaculate struggled with their hitting, Mott found a groove, and scored in each of the last six innings of the game, including a monstrous nine-run inning to finish out the game.
Performing well under their regular intensity, Immaculate looked hot and ready in game two, scoring a strong four runs in the first inning to put them up with an early lead. That lead was short-lived, as Mott laid down ten runs in retaliation, including a first inning grand slam by Eric Bramhoff.
After getting off to a fast start, Immaculate looked like they just might have the juice to beat Mott and advance the series to more games, but were only able to string together a couple of more runs in the third, one of which was due to fielding errors by Mott. As Immaculate tacked on two runs, Mott answered back with four, with the help of a three-run shot by Jared Schiavoni.
After the third inning, Mott was down a hitter, when Eric Bramhoff left the game to accompany his son, who was struck by a foul ball, to the hospital (his son would be fine). Despite having the automatic out, Mott would not be deterred, and scored eleven more runs throughout the game without one of their biggest hitters. Mott would hit six homeruns in game 2, including back-to-back shots in the seventh inning to put Immaculate well behind them.
Immaculate, on the other hand, was unable to hit a single home run in game two, and instead scored all their runs on base hits. Unfortunately for them, the hits came too sporadically, and they were unable to start any sort of rally.
Trailing the series two games to none, Immaculate walked into game three knowing far too well that it was make-or-break. From both teams, however, the game seemed more like an early season scrimmage than a championship final. Despite amazing catches in the outfield, crushing homeruns and aggressive base running, the game unwound in a less than mundane way. Aside from simply being a low scoring game, by most accounts, Immaculate carried themselves like they had already accepted defeat, and were instead looking forward to the season finally being over. Whether or not that’s true is unknown, but one thing is certain: the spirit wasn’t there.
For a team that almost entered a bench-clearing brawl with Decker during the semi-finals, Immaculate showed no vexation during their slow and inevitable loss.
In their game three loss, Immaculate was unable to get into a rhythm, scoring only five runs on nine hits. Three of those runs came from homers, one by Tyler Gilbride in the fourth, the other a two run shot by Joe Mascali in the sixth.
Mott was a similar story. Although they scored early and often, the sluggers only tacked on fourteen runs in the game, just about half as much as they score on any other night.
Ultimately, what the series boiled down to was injuries. For a season that takes place during the height of the summer, most teams are lucky to be playing with a full squad.
Immaculate’s Nick Dombkowski, who drove in fourteen runs, with four homers during the semi-final series against Decker, was held back in the finals by a hamstring injury. Mott lost a solid hitter in Rich Bragna after he injured his knee in an earlier game.
With the season over there’s no guessing as to what will happen next year, or which teams will still be around. Chances are the seasonal squads such as Mott and Immaculate will be in the running.