Men’s Softball: Kreiger gets helping hand from Mother Nature

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.”