Men’s Softball: Small ball makes big difference for Claudio’s

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.”

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