Skippers shines, clinches first place

The name of their game is defense.

Skippers, sparked by the solid pitching of John Brush and an airtight defense, clinched the Greenport Men’s Softball League regular-season title this past week. It did so by topping Marcello Masonry, 17-7, on July 19, and then walloping Pool King, 25-0, on Monday night at the Polo Grounds in Greenport. The pair of wins improved Skippers’ record to 16-2. Marcello fell to 13-4, followed by Southold Fish Market at 12-5 and Founders Tavern 9-7.

The best-of-three semifinals begin on Monday night. Skippers will take on Founders Tavern, while Marcello Masonry faces Southold Fish Market. Games are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The best-of-five finals will be held Aug. 9 to 13.

Ev Corwin had a huge game in Skippers’ rout of Pool King as he homered and drove in six runs. Keith Sweat had three hits, including a pair of home runs.

In the showdown against Marcello Masonry, Skippers fell behind early, 3-0, but answered back with six runs in both the second and fourth innings to take command of the game. Sweat belted a two-run homer in the second and Bob Neese hit a two-run blast in the fourth. Pat Gagen gave Skippers some insurance in the seventh with a solo homer. Chris Lucarelli had a pair of doubles and scored twice for Skippers.

Bob Marcello, John Hansen and Scott Anderson all homered for Marcello Masonry.

Brush raved about the defensive support behind him.

“When we can shorten the innings,” he said, “it makes my job a lot easier.”

In other action, Claudio’s went into Friday night’s game against Founders Tavern with the belief it still had a shot at making the playoffs.

Early on, though, the game looked like it was going to belong to Founders, as it roared to an 8-0 lead in the top of the third inning. But Claudio’s (7-10) exploded for 16 — count them — runs in the fourth inning to win the game, 21-19. Founders had built its lead with the long ball as Carl Ruthinoski smacked a two-run homer while Billy Fulman and Pete Castillo belted solo homers. Jon Schlachter and Glenn Zaleski each had four hits, while Ruthinoski went 3 for 5.

Claudio’s started its comeback with five runs in the bottom of the third when Matt Wilsberg hit a two-run double and Ned Baker smacked a two-run homer. Claudio’s then strung together the 16-run explosion in the fourth. Mike O’Brien, Kevin Smith, Matt Vescovi, Greg Cochio, Baker, Brady Ulmet, O’Brien and Smith again all had run-scoring hits. Vescovi hit a sacrifice fly. Cochio singled home another run. Wilsberg ripped a two-run triple. Baker doubled home the final run.

“They hit the ball up the middle and we made a couple of errors,” Schlachter said. “We had one really bad inning.”

Vescovi was proud of the way his team responded. “This is a huge step for us,” he said. “We thought this was our shot. Everything was falling into place for us. Then we found out afterward that there was a mix-up with our record and that we didn’t have a chance for the playoffs.”