One would think that playing softball at 10 a.m. would be cooler than in the afternoon, but on Aug. 2, the Wells Fargo squad squared up against the Veterans of Foreign Wars 55-and-over team in steamy 90 degree and rising temperatures for an Old Tymers Softball game.
Not only were the playing conditions sweltering, so was the competition. VFW won the seven-inning affair in a close 10-9 effort.
Wells Fargo jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start the game off by loading the bases against VFW pitcher Mike Abbatiello. Short fielder Jim Steinmacher and center fielder Neil Fleming reached base on singles, while clean-up man Ed Lanham drew the bases-loaded walk.
Shortstop Bruce Maurer poked an RBI single to score Steinmacher and Bob Argonish drew another walk, forcing in Fleming to take a 2-0 lead with one out. Pitcher Ed Sternberg tacked on their final run of the inning on a sacrifice fly to the outfield, scoring Lanham.
VFW would counter Wells Fargo with a three-run inning as well. Third baseman Tom Harvey, shortfielder Pete Rendina and leftfielder Tom Copp clipped Sternberg for three consecutive singles the third, of which scored their first run and moved Rendina to third.
Shortstop Paul Harp blooped a ball into right field that was robbed by Norm McClaren on a shoestring grab. Harp’s sacrifice fly would score Rendina and left-centerfielder Charlier Johanna would ensure the bases would keep warm by singling before right-centerfielder George Hunt could knock in the leading run on a sac fly to tie the game
Abbatiello would shake off the first inning by striking out the leadoff batter, catcher John DePalma, and from a little help from his defense. First baseman Chris Lingenfelder and McClaren would both single, and a wild throw gave Wells Fargo gave them a runner in scoring position at third base.
VFW “new guy” first baseman Vinny Deveicco flashed some handy leather by snaring a lightning bolt of a line drive from leadoff batter Steinmacher. A final pop out to the outfield would smolder Wells Fargo second inning rally.
VFW posted two more runs in the bottom of the second on an RBI triple by Deveicco and a RBI single by Copp, giving them a 5-3 lead. Deveicco gave VFW punch at the bottom of their lineup and cranked in two RBI triples (the second RBI triple was hit in the bottom of the fourth to give VFW a 7-4 lead) and made a number of big plays at first base.
VFW stonewalled Wells Fargo with the bases loaded again in the top of the third and retired the remaining three batters to leave three men on base. Wells Fargo would leave nine men on base throughout the game.
VFW would hold an 8-4 lead going into the fifth inning, but Wells Fargo would surge back.
Southpaw second baseman Jesse Bare blasted an inside the park home run to start off the fifth inning. Maurer would lace a two-out single over the extended hand of a leaping Rendina, which would set up Wells Fargo for another two runs and trimming the lead to 8-7.
Argonish knocked in Maurer on a RBI triple and Sternberg would trim the lead on an RBI double to score Argonish. Wells Fargo trailed VFW 8-7 with only two more chances to score runs to pull this game out.
VFW would answer the bell in their half of the inning to extend the lead to 10-7 on a couple timely hits.
Right fielder Joe Cannon smacked in Harp on a RBI single and the next batter, second baseman Tom Farrah would walk the bases full. Abbatiello whacked a RBI single, giving VFW a three run lead going into the sixth inning.
Wells Fargo earned a leadoff base runner in the top of the sixth after Lingenfelder drew a walk. A Steinmacher fielder’s choice moved Lingenfelder and Bare got around on the ball and ripped it down the right field line to give Wells Fargo runners on the corners with one out.
Fleming hit an RBI single to score Lingenfelder whittled the lead to 10-8 but the Abbatiello is the one who almost got cut down.
Lanham rocketed an Abbatiello pitch right back at him and the ball ricocheted off his shoulder into right to score another run. Down 10-9, Maurer stepped to the plate with runners in scoring position and a well-hit ball was successfully relayed to the plate for the mandatory force at home plate to end the inning.
Sternberg and his Wells Fargo defense worked a quick three-up, three-down bottom of the sixth inning but they were unable to capitalize on their recent momentum.
Sternberg would give Wells Fargo a glimpse of hope when he delivered on a one-out single past a leaping Harp, but the inning would end on one of two VFW 6-4-3 double plays.
Outfielder Tom Kavanagh hit a routine ball to the shortstop, Harp who started the double play by flipping the ball to a covering Rendina, would complete the play by catching the ball for the force out and pirouetting into better position to deliver the ball to his cousin at first, Deveicco, to end the game.
The Old Tymers Softball over 55 League will play games every Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. at the Dagsboro Church of God.
The over-70 league is still a couple ball players away from playing games and is looking for guys who want to enjoy themselves. The over-70 league will meet every Monday morning at the old Indian River High School at 9 a.m.