08/31/11 10:27am
08/31/2011 10:27 AM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold Fish Market third baseman Cory Lamendola gloved a hard-hit grounder during Game 5.

When Founders Tavern and Southold Fish Market entered last Wednesday night’s rubber match of the Greenport Men’s Softball League championship series, an offensive battle was expected. The series pitted the two highest scoring offenses from the regular season against one another, and the forecast was for a windy night. In splitting the first four games of the series, Southold Fish Market outscored Founders by 72-65. With all of the expectations of offense in Game 5, no one could have predicted what happened that night at the Polo Grounds.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Rob Stanevich went 4 for 5 with a home run, four runs batted in and a walk for Founders Tavern.

After a leadoff flyout, Roger Turbush tripled, beginning a wild night. The next batter, John Hansen, hit a ball deep to left center field that bounced off the top of the fence, jumped diagonally further towards center, hit the top of the fence again, and finally went over for a two-run home run. By the end of the first inning, Founders had belted six home runs and scored 12 runs on 10 hits. But Southold Fish Market responded with a strong inning itself.

After responding with three home runs and seven runs of its own, Southold Fish Market’s first inning ended on an unorthodox play. With seven runs in, one out, and Doug Conklin on first base, Warren Bondarchuk hit a small pop-up to first basemen Jamie Bednoski, who dropped the fly ball and turned a double play, ending the Southold Fish Market rally.

Founders Tavern came back strong in the second with three more home runs and six runs, which eventually proved to be its slowest inning of the night. After three, the game was getting out of hand at 26-9.

“There was no slowing down for us,” Founders Tavern Manager Jon Schlachter said. “It was essentially the championship game, Game 5, and we know that they can put up some runs. We couldn’t risk it.”

In the end, Founders Tavern tallied 14 home runs and put up a whopping 42 runs to take the title with a 42-15 victory. Southold Fish Market knocked out seven homers of its own but it wasn’t enough.

“I still give those guys a lot of credit,” Schlachter said. “After we won the first two games on Monday night, they could’ve laid down and let us take it on Tuesday. But they came back and fought hard and forced us to a Game 5. I have a lot of respect for them for doing that.”

John Hansen led Founders Tavern, going 5 for 6 with four home runs and 10 runs batted in, but he wasn’t the only big contributor of the night. Founders Tavern also received plenty of production from Rob Stanevich (4 for 5, home run, four runs batted in, walk), Roger Turbush (4 for 6, four RBI, home run, triple), Bob Marcello (4 for 4, two home runs, three RBI, two walks), Herb Loper (2 for 6, home run, four RBI), Chris Turbush (3 for 5, home run, three RBI, walk), Carl Ruthinoski (2 for 6, home run, two RBI), Jamie Bednoski (3 for 5, three home runs, seven RBI, walk), Ed Michaelis (3 for 4, home run, triple, three RBI, two walks) and Chris Golden (3 for 5).

After coming into the playoffs as the No. 4 seed, Founders pulled off upsets of No. 1 Billy’s By the Bay, a first-round sweep, and a 3-2 championship series victory over No. 2 Southold Fish Market. Injuries to everyday starting outfielders Dan Hagerman, Glenn Zaleski and Schlachter forced late-season roster additions of brothers Roger and Chris Turbush as well as Kevin Curtis, who played in Monday night’s games. They proved to be championship moves for Founders, which claimed its first league championship.

08/09/11 4:18pm
08/09/2011 4:18 PM

Friday night’s contest could have been just another Greenport Men’s Softball League game for East End Pool King. Win or lose, with a record of 4-14, it had already been eliminated from playoff contention, and was facing Claudio’s, winner of seven in a row and the hottest team in the league. But it wasn’t just another game. Pool King was without its 63-year-old catcher, Willie “Fred” King, and for a concerning reason. Nearly 36 hours earlier, King was sent to Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola to be prepped for triple-bypass heart surgery.

After experiencing chest pains last Wednesday night after work, King awoke last Thursday morning feeling no better. King drove himself to the emergency room at Eastern Long Island Hospital, and after examination, it was determined he was in need of the procedure.

“I had found out right before our batting practice,” said Pool King second basemen Jimmy Pelan, a teammate of King’s for eight seasons. “I thought, ‘You’re kidding me …’ The iron man, the fact that that happened to him was shocking.”

King attended Greenport High School in the mid-1960s and was a member of the school’s football and track and field teams. Over the years he has been known as Willie, Willie Fred, Freddy, and Fast Freddy.

King is known by his teammates and friends around the league as a hard-working, family-oriented man. “He dedicates himself to his family first because when he started playing with us, he told us: ‘I work two jobs. I got to take care of what I got to take care of, and then when softball comes around, softball comes around and I’m really into it,” Pelan said. “That [guy] works for Mullen Motors, and then he goes to King Kullen. … He puts in a week, man.”

Bob Peterson, a long-time teammate of King’s, reiterated the same sentiments. “He supports his family,” Peterson said. “… He’s really been there for the two girls that he’s got at home now. He’s been dedicated to them.”

And while King has been long considered a family man, a few events in recent years have strengthened his family-focused mindset.

First, in 2007, King’s 14-year-old nephew, Kyle Rose, passed away after a drowning accident. Then, just over a year ago, his 23-year-old stepson, Jefferson “Naquawn” Treadwell, was killed in a dirt biking accident. Through it all, King has continued his hard-working ways and has done whatever he can for his family. “Anybody that’s close to Freddie, he takes care of,” Pelan said. “He’s just one of those guys.”

And he has always stayed positive on the softball field.

“He brings life,” Peterson said. “He’s one of the only ones who talks on the team, and he’s just full of life. He always has been a ‘rah-rah’ kind of guy. I’ve pitched to him for at least 15 years now, so we figure we’re the oldest battery in New York State. He just brings life to the team with his attitude. … He’s always hustling.”

That hustle shined through during a July 19 win over Kreiger Well/Pure Water. With the score tied in the seventh inning, King was on second base and Pelan was at the plate. On contact, King sprinted to third and rounded the base hard in an attempt to draw a throw. His fake did just that and the toss got away from the catcher. He immediately broke for home. “At 63 years old, Freddy does a head-first slide into home plate to score the game winning run,” said Pelan.

Even 23-year-old scorekeeper Warren Bondarchuk was in awe. “It was something that even I wouldn’t do, and he did it with ease,” Bondarchuk said. “He got up, brushed himself off, and calmly walked off the field.”

It was routine hustle for King.

King is also known for his chatter behind the plate. Pelan has also played against King. “The best line in the world is, ‘Pretty pitch, pretty pitch,’ ” Pelan said. “Then he stops for like two seconds, and then it gets called a strike and he looks at the batter and says, ‘I told you so.’ I love that line. It’s a classic line. It’s a Freddy line.”

But on Friday night, Peterson was without the chatter and his battery mate of the last 15 years. “We played for Willie that night,” Peterson said. “We decided that’s the way it was, and when we went on the field we were going to try to win one for Willie.”

And East End Pool King did just that. Peterson held Claudio’s bats at bay throughout the 9-8 win and helped earn Pool King’s first victory against a team with a record over .500. It was Pool King’s night. “I don’t know if [wanting to win for Freddy] had anything to do with it, but it was probably our best game of season,” said Peterson.

Pelan said, “He’s a really good teammate, but I consider him a better friend.”

08/02/11 2:49pm
08/02/2011 2:49 PM

It is rare to find a baseball or softball player who hopes for rain on the day of a game. In fact, Kreiger Well/Pure Water Manager Jon Demopoulos hinted that he never had, at least prior to this past Friday. “For the first time in my softball career I was ecstatic for a rainout,” he said.

Just two weeks after having to forfeit a Friday night game to Hubbard Equipment, Demopoulos’ Greenport Men’s Softball League team was in the same predicament. Another early Friday game, and not enough guys to play.

“Friday games have been hard for us all year,” Demopoulos said. “We have a lot of guys that work Friday nights. I even did a little rain dance before the game.”

A second forfeit would have cost Kreiger Well/Pure Water the rest of its season.

“We knew we were going to struggle coming into the game because three of our players were going to be missing due to work, and with the economy the way it is, people can’t afford to miss work to play softball,” utility player Derek Grattan said. “Me and Jon were praying for the rain all day.”

Two of those players who were missing because of work commitments are considered the team’s biggest bats, Joe Barszczewski and Will Mehr, who were both among the top seven in home runs on the mid-season statistics leader board.

“I have to work every Friday night, so I always miss the Friday games,” Mehr said. “If the season ended, I would have missed our last game.”

Barszczewski said: “I would not have been happy, period [if we had to forfeit]. Even though there’s only a few games left, I’d be real upset if we couldn’t play them all.”

Their prayers were answered, but not without a little bit of excitement. While warming up for their game against Claudio’s, Kreiger Well/Pure Water only had seven players present that were currently on its roster. Demopoulos knew that he could start the game with eight players, and had Adrian Timon ready to be put on the roster to start the game. He knew, however, that it was a long shot for a mandatory ninth player to show up by the fourth inning. While the rain began during warmups, umpire Tom Quillin and the league president, John Hansen, planned on trying to get the game in unless the field became unplayable and players were at risk of being injured.

Demopolous did what he had to. He dropped one player from the roster and added Timon. But the excitement didn’t end there. Kreiger Well/Pure Water had enough players to start the game, but not enough to finish it, and with next to no hope of a ninth player showing up, the fate of its season lay in the hands of Mother Nature.

After two innings in a steady rain, Kreiger trailed Claudio’s, 6-0, and was inching closer to forfeiting the game and its season. Then, in the top of the third, a slip on the base paths triggered a chain of events that kept its season alive. “They were a little hesitant to call the game, which made us nervous, but then I slipped on the first-base bag,” Grattan explained.

That was all Quillin needed to see. The scorekeeper, Warren Bondarchuk, placed the call to Hansen, and after five to 10 minutes of discussion, it was ruled a rainout.

“It was very fortunate because even though we have not had the most stellar or fulfilling season, I know that Joe [Barszczewski] and I want to be there for the final game,” Mehr said. “We are both team guys. For us, being out there together and with the rest of the team, win or lose, is a good experience.”

“We’ve got a great bunch of guys on this team,” Demopoulos said before his game Monday night against Southold Fish Market, a game that, if it weren’t for Mother Nature on Friday night, Kreiger Well/Pure Water would not have been able to play. “Everyone puts in a lot of effort to make sure we all show up to the games, but sometimes work schedules prevent people from coming.”

07/26/11 3:18pm
07/26/2011 3:18 PM

As Hubbard Equipment hit the halfway point of the season, it was 5-6 and battling for the fourth playoff spot in the Greenport Men’s Softball League. It had two players who were in the top four of the league in all three major batting categories: home runs (Craig Jobes and Scott Anderson), batting average (Ned Baker and Anderson), and runs batted in (Jobes and Anderson). Since a tough 26-23 loss to Founders Tavern on July 5, Hubbard’s season has dramatically changed.

A week later, on July 12, Hubbard was forced to forfeit its scheduled game against first-place Billy’s by the Bay. With a roster of 13 players, six were unable to make the game. Tim Staron, the team’s regular pitcher, and Chris Flanigan, the team’s backup pitcher, Mike O’Brien, and Aaron McGinness were all forced to work late shifts while Scott Anderson and Scott Warde were both out of town. While league rules allow teams to begin a game with eight players, by the fourth inning that team must be playing with at least nine, neither of which Hubbard could do because of the conflicting schedules.

However, Hubbard’s night was not yet over.

The contest against Billy’s by the Bay was set for a 6 p.m. start as a result of rescheduling previously rained out games. Hubbard also had a game scheduled against second-place Southold Fish Market at 7 p.m. Manager Ian Ryan’s hands were tied. The league allows teams to forfeit one game without penalty, but after a second forfeit, that team is kicked out of the league for the remainder of the season. However, new players cannot be added to a roster unless it has 11 players on it. Hubbard had 13. Roster moves had to be made.

“It was tough in two ways because at the beginning of the season I thought we had one of the top three teams in the league, and you get close with those guys that you’re playing with,” Ryan said. “It’s tough to drop guys that you’re friends with on top of the fact that we had to find someone to play in just a couple of hours.”

But Ryan made the difficult moves. He dropped both of his pitchers, Staron and Flanigan, to get down to the mandatory 11-player roster in order to pick up Zach Jobes, Craig’s brother, to avoid forfeiting the second game of the doubleheader. While Hubbard avoided the forfeit, it took a tough loss, 16-1 to Southold Fish Market. “I felt bad because I had to work and couldn’t make the games,” said Flanigan later, hinting that the rainout just happened to be rescheduled on a bad night for he and his teammates.

But it didn’t end there. After a tough 9-8 loss to Claudio’s, Hubbard was set to square off against Southold Fish Market yet again on Friday, but numbers were yet again an issue. Ryan only had eight players to go with, and yet again was destined to forfeit. This time, he dropped Zach Jobes and Aaron McGinness in order to pick up Gary Herman, who has since become Hubbard’s pitcher, and Tobin Haas. The game was another Southold Fish Market Victory, this time by a score of 23-7.

“It’s tough getting comfortable out there,” Craig Jobes said on Monday night after another blowout loss, this time to Founders Tavern. “Different guys are in different positions every night. We’re showing up with eight or nine guys every night and can never really field a whole team.”

Hubbard Equipment now sits at 6-11, a distant fifth place, four and a half games out of playoff contention. While the struggle to field a team continues from night to night, Hubbard has found a way to continue to fight and survive, which is an achievement in itself.

07/19/11 1:16pm
07/19/2011 1:16 PM

As the Fourth of July came and passed, Claudio’s was a game under .500 at 4-5, sitting in fourth place in the Greenport Men’s Softball League and in danger of falling out of playoff position. Claudio’s was coming off of a tough 10-9 loss to Southold Fish Market and had a full week off between June 29 and July 6 to try to regroup.

It did just that.

Fueled by 16-year-old center fielder Sean Charters’ first ever start in the leadoff spot, the run began with a 20-4 mercy-rule victory over Kreiger Well/Pure Water on July 6. Charters, the youngest player in the league, went 4 for 6 with six runs batted in to ignite a Claudio’s offense that hadn’t scored 10 or more runs in a game since June 20.

The offensive outburst continued the following Monday with just nine players in a league where 10 are typically played defensively. Shorthanded, Claudio’s fought to a 28-14 victory over third-place Founders Tavern. In the two teams’ only previous meeting this season, Founders pitcher John Hansen pitched a shutout to lead his team to a 12-0 win. However, this time around, Claudio’s focused on small ball and proved to itself that it belongs in the top half of the league.

“Not only with the playoffs around the corner were those wins big for momentum, but the victory over Founder’s was key to assuring our guys we can compete with the top tier teams,” said Claudio’s catcher Matthew Vescovi.

The next night, Claudio’s followed up the big win with another mercy victory, this time over Pete’s Boys, 18-3. Finally, to earn its fourth win in eight days and third in three nights, Claudio’s took down last-place East End Pool King, 16-7, last Wednesday.

Over its four-game win streak, Claudio’s has outscored its opponents, 72-28, and pitcher John Condon has been hot both on the mound and with the bat. At one point during the winning streak, Condon went 15 for 19 while giving up an average of only seven runs per game. As of the beginning of this week, Claudio’s was 8-5 and sat only a half-game behind Founders Tavern for third place. Claudio’s also developed a more comfortable lead over fifth-place Hubbard Equipment at two and a half games.

With two-thirds of the season complete, Claudio’s looks to continue the momentum it has built and make a deep playoff push. “It’s all about playing small ball and good defense for us,” Claudio’s utility player Kyle Charters said. “If we try to outslug any of these teams, we are going to get ourselves in trouble. That’s not our game and I think we’ve finally realized that.”

06/28/11 1:24pm
06/28/2011 1:24 PM

At the beginning of the week, Billy’s By the Bay sat atop the Greenport Men’s Softball League standings at 8-0 with Southold Fish Market hot on its tail at 8-1. While these two teams have similar records, the makeup of each team is quite different. In fact, they may be viewed as a generation apart.

When Southold Fish Market left-center-fielder Warren Bondarchuk, 23, began his involvement with the Greenport league, he was a 14-year-old bat boy for a team that had the same core group of players that are with today’s Billy’s By the Bay. “Being the bat boy, I always looked up to them and liked how they played as a team,” he said. “When I got the chance to play with them they all gave me tips to help my game.”

Bondarchuk remembers eight of the team’s current players (John Brush Sr., Mark Berry, Matt Verity, John Brush Jr., Ev Corwin, Pat Gagen, Bob Neese and Chris Lucarelli) playing for that team, which at the time was sponsored, ironically, by Southold Fish Market.

Currently, Bondarchuk’s version of Southold Fish Market carries an average age of 28 years old, but eight of its 13 players are between the ages of 21 and 25. In contrast, John Brush Sr.’s Billy’s By the Bay team carries an average age just over 34, with six out of its 15 players being 35 or older. While both teams have a mix of veterans and youth, the way each team was designed and put together couldn’t be any more different.

Billy’s By the Bay has taken its core group that has played together for over 10 years (the average player age is 40.6 years) and added some youth by acquiring players in their mid-20s like Chris Macomber, Mo Aguilera, and Keith Sweat, and bringing in 21-year-old utility infielder Joe Miranda.

“You can’t help but respect the tradition that these guys carry,” Miranda said. “When they were Skippers and I was on the opposite side, I always liked their style of play and the respect they had for other teams.”

Being the youngest player on a team is something Miranda is used to. “They help me keep my feet on the ground with the way they give me tips,” he said. “I’m a more confident hitter when they talk to me about every pitcher.”

Bondarchuk considers Brush Sr. his softball mentor. “Brush taught me everything I know about softball,” he said.

Yet, when he was 18, Bondarchuk split from the group to join a team that carried a roster nearly full of players who at the time were still in high school. While many of the faces have changed, the youth theme has remained constant. The additions over the years of Dave Angevine and Chris Doucett, Bondarchuk’s father-in-law and brother-in-law, respectively, helped bring veteran leadership and knowledge to a team filled with a good deal of young talent.

Doucett, 35, was once a part of Brush’s core group, playing with that team for five seasons before moving on. “You have to have a lot of respect for a team that stays together and is still as competitive [as they are], plus they have a good mix of older veterans and younger players,” he said.

Only five players are still with Southold Fish Market that were on the team back when Bondarchuk joined it as an 18-year-old. The average age of those five is 25.8 years. In contrast to taking a veteran squad and adding young talent, like Billy’s By the Bay has, Southold Fish Market has taken a small group of young players and brought in veterans to help learn and develop along the way.

In their only meeting this year to date, the game was decided in the third inning. Sound strange?

It was.

With Billy’s By the Bay leading, 8-7, Southold Fish Market’s Andres Puerta attempted to score the tying run and was called out at the plate. Not agreeing with the home-plate umpire, Puerta argued and was ejected. Because it had no bench player to replace Puerta, Southold Fish Market had to forfeit the game. League rules state that a team cannot finish a game with fewer players than it began a game with. The next matchup between the teams is scheduled for Tuesday, July 5.

While they are competing for league supremacy, similar sentiments are shared by both teams that, while very different in nature, have so much in common.

Doucett, who has been on both sides, summed it up best. “It’s great knowing those guys and competing with them,” he said. “It makes the thrill even better.”

06/21/11 5:31pm
06/21/2011 5:31 PM

While quickly scanning through the eight teams participating in the 2011 Greenport Men’s Softball League season, a reader will see some familiar sponsors (Southold Fish Market, Founders Tavern, Claudio’s, East End Pool King), some new local business sponsors (Hubbard Equipment, Billy’s by the Bay, Kreiger Well/Pure Water), and one team that raises some questions: Pete’s Boys.

After an unsuccessful search for a local business and some further digging into the name’s roots, a reporter found that it was simply an individual paying his entire team’s sponsorship fee.

Pete Carman, who has played in Greenport since 1989, took it upon himself to cover the sponsor money that amounted to $650, usually acquired from a local business, to allow he and his teammates to participate in the 2011 season. “It’s tough to get a sponsor, so I just wanted to keep the guys we’ve been playing with … and I sponsored the team. I just wanted to play in this league. … It’d be easier for me to play in East Hampton, because it’s 10 minutes away, or Sag Harbor … or Southampton in the over-50 league, but I just love it out there. … Playing with the young guys keeps you younger, and all the old people come. you know, you get a good crowd there, and I love the high arc. That’s what makes this league.”

Born in Brooklyn, Carman moved to Freeport, and then eventually settled in the Oakdale/Sayville area when he was 15 years old. As a child he summered in Sag Harbor, where he has lived since 1989.

Carman’s actions have not gone unnoticed by other players in the league. Both veterans and relative newcomers alike appreciate what Carman has done.

“That’s great, that’s awesome,” said John Hansen, a veteran player and the league president who has been playing in Greenport since the league returned after a short hiatus. “They’re lucky that he does that. Most people wouldn’t even do that. … He loves to play, that guy.”

Twenty-two-year-old Ian Ryan of Hubbard Equipment shared similar sentiments. “It just shows how much he loves the game, for him to pay the sponsor fee so his team can play. … He plays with heart and determination, no matter what the outcome of the game is going to be.”

In recent years, there have been other individuals who have covered their own team’s sponsor fees. However, they have all had family businesses from which to take the funds and to name the team after. Currently, Russ and Ned Baker are examples as they both play under Hubbard Equipment, a family corporation. In the past, Bob Marcello of Marcello Masonry and John Condon of Condon Engineering have done the same.

Carman is widely regarded around the league as a hard-nosed, passionate player who gives his all on every single play. “I’ve never seen someone so willing to sacrifice his body for the good of the team,” Claudio’s catcher Matthew Vescovi said.

That physical courage probably comes from his past in football. After playing football, basketball, and baseball at Connetquot High School, Carman continued his football career at Suffolk County Community College.

“I was on Penny Lumber years ago, and we won all these championships, but then they went with younger players,” Carman said. “So about 10 years ago, we started our over-40 team.”

Whiskey Wind was the primary sponsor, and the core of that team stuck together for eight years, according to Carman. “Now there’s only three guys left on the team, and the rest of them are in there twenties, teens, and a couple in their thirties; we had to replace everyone.”

While many of the surrounding faces have changed, Carman’s love of the game, and being a part of a team, has stuck. Asked what he most takes away from his long career playing in Greenport, Carman responded: “What feels good is the camaraderie. … I’ve met a lot of my friends over the years through softball. From 1989, I’d say 50 percent of my good friends are from softball, and I still keep in contact with over the years, even guys who don’t play” any more.

Still question Carman’s passion for the game? “I tell you, if I die, I told my wife she’s going to sprinkle part of my ashes on that Greenport softball field,” he said. “Because I live in Sag Harbor, I got to take two boats just to get there.”