Month: August 2023

Wesolowski wins senior title

By Bill Moor

“Dud” is what some of Gary Duddleson’s softball teammates call him.

          Yet he hardly lived up to that nickname Tuesday night while leading Wesolowski Insurance to an 18-11 victory over Prep & Polish in the South Bend senior division (62-and-over) championship game at the John Byers Complex.

          Far from a dud, Gary delivered three hits — including a homer and a double — along with four RBIs for the newly crowned champs. In fact, he almost had a three-homer game.

His double just missed going out, and John Albers of P&P crashed through the temporary outfield fence while making a spectacular catch on Duddleson’s only out.

          The Dud was The Dude.

         

Gary Duddleson

“Hey, it’s just really fun playing with these guys,” said the 72-year-old. “Rich Sparks (the Wesolowski manager) and I have been playing together for 40 years along with some of the others. I don’t want to ever stop.”

          Especially if he keeps playing like he did Tuesday.

          He had plenty of help from his teammates, especially winning pitcher Jim Gannarelli, who had a home run of his own along with four RBIs. A newcomer to South Bend and a guy who took up bench space as a hurler for Arizona State University long ago, Gannarelli hadn’t played ball for 13 years until this season.

          “It’s been great to find a team like this,” he said. “I’m really happy to be back in the Midwest and playing ball again.”

           

Jim Gannarelli

Wesolowski started out with a 5-0 first-inning lead as they exploited holes in the P&P infield. P&P was playing with just 10 players (and four infielders, not five) instead of the usual 11.

          Too soon, Wesolowski had two five-run innings in the first four frames and carried a 10-2 lead into the fifth inning. Duddleson seemed to be adding a fatal blow when he sent a towering fly to the left-field fence.

          Albers literally knocked the fence down and took a run off the board as he made a spectacular catch. In that instant, the momentum shifted toward P&P.

 

        John Albers

In the bottom of the fifth, P&P put together a five-run rally that included hits by Albers, Bob White, Mike Clark, Doug Hann, Jerome Keller and George Hartman. That 10-2 deficit suddenly was just 10-7.

          Unfortunately for P&P, Gannarelli chose the top of the sixth inning to hit his first home run of the year. The three-run blast, against the wind to right field, ignited another five-run rally to push the margin back to 15-7.

          Albers homered in the bottom of the sixth, but that seemed like P&P’s final gasp. Both teams scored three runs in the seventh, and Wesolowski claimed its first-ever tournament championship.

In senior softball, defense matters. Wesolowski shut down P&P rallies by turning three double-plays.

But offense matters as well. Wesolowski batted 12 players, and all of them delivered at least one hit. Five of them – Moorhead, Duddleson, Terry Hayden, Steve Sporinsky and Bruce Cernak had three hits apiece.

The bottom four hitters – where rallies often go to die – delivered seven hits in 11 at-bats.

P&P didn’t leave quietly. Coach Ron Betzer’s team had battled out of the losers’ bracket to take on Wesolowski. This showdown brought out the best in the short-handed crew.

Of its 10 players, nine recorded hits. Joe Caruso, Hann, Jerome Keller and Hartman all had three hits apiece. Bob White, Hann and Hartman all drove in two runs apiece.

            In its final at-bat, trailing 18-11, P&P rapped out five straight hits to raise the tension level. But then a runner was thrown out at home plate and a nifty double play followed to quickly end the game.

          Two of P&P’s stars — Albers and Keller — had been on the junior division (52-and-over) championship team two weeks ago.

This team was no stranger to pressure. They had beaten Unity Gardens last week with a two-run, two-out walk-off homer by Caruso.

            This game ended another big season for senior softball. The arms might not be as strong or the feet as fast as they once were, but these senior players still play with a lot of heart.  And if they do push their bodies too hard, P&P has two physicians — Caruso and White — in their lineup.

          But nobody had to limp off the diamond on Tuesday, and both teams could proudly stand tall. At this age, it’s a privilege to play games that friends and family will remember.

          Commissioner Ken Bradford tried some new things during the playoffs — including a Dollar Night where everything at the concession stand — pizza slices, hot dogs, etc. — were just a dollar. He has also started the website that is hosting this story.

          One thing was for certain, the end of the season was far from a dud.

Boxscore (courtesy of Gary Marcus)

Wesolowski    505 005 3 –13

Prep&Polish   020 021 3 –11

Wesolowski: Bob Fonseca 4-1-2-1, Tod Moorhead 4-2-3-1, Gary Duddleson 4-3-3-4, Terry Hayden 4-2-3-0, Steve Sporinsky 4-3-3-1, Ken Richmond 4-1-2-2, Curt Kent 4-2-1-1, Jim Gannarelli 4-2-2-4, Bruce Cernak 3-0-3-2. Rich Sparks 2-1-1-0, Kevin Peczkowski 3-1-1-0, Dave Varner 3-0-2-0. Totals 43-18-26-16

Prep& Polish: John Albers 4-2-2-1, Bob White 3-1-1-2, Mike Clark 4-2-2-0, Joe Caruso 4-1-3-0, Ron Betzer 4-0-1-0, Doug Hann 4-3-3-2, Jerome Keller 3-1-3-1, George Hartman 4-0-3-2, Phil Zillman 4-0-1-0, Heinz Hayen 2-1-0-0. Totals   

Bill Moor is the former longtime sports editor and columnist of the South Bend Tribune. His current writings are on moorandmore.net

No secret to PowerHouse success

PowerHouse Electric seems to have its game figured out.

Elite teams in other leagues tend to follow a more traditional path – get a couple guys on base and try to drop a bomb over the fence. That’s actually what had put Putt-Putt in the driver’s seat Thursday heading into the Michiana Senior Softball League junior division showdown – fence-rattling power.

But PowerHouse knocked off favored Putt-Putt twice with its usual, different formula – simple singles, smart speed on the bases and unbendable defense.

The winning numbers Thursday were 7-0 and 12-4, and PowerHouse has its second consecutive tourney title.

PowerHouse, coached by Jim Nace, entered the night with no margin for error. The defending champs had been knocked into the losers bracket with a four-homer 13-6 power display by Putt-Putt in their double-elimination tournament opener Aug. 3.

As a result, PowerHouse went into the Thursday showdown needing two wins. Putt-Putt, in the winners bracket, needed just one.

A slip-up of any kind by PowerHouse would give Putt-Putt its first-ever tournament championship.

No chance of that. The tone was set early. Putt-Putt filled the bases in the top of the first but came up empty when PowerHouse turned a hard-hit grounder into an inning-ending double play.

Then, in the bottom of the first, PowerHouse’s Mike Ernzen singled, moved to second on a walk to Bob Knight and scored easily on Adam Kroemer’s single. Knight and Kroemer advanced on a throw, and Jim Ridenour followed with a liner to right that scored them both. Suddenly, it was a 3-0 lead.

PowerHouse scored again in the second on a hit by Jerome Keller and made it 6-0 in the third on consecutive hits by Ernzen, Knight and Kroemer. Knight plated the final run in the seventh with a hit that scored Tod Moorhead.

Pitcher Jimmy Hill allowed eight hits in that first-game shutout and kept Putt-Putt off-balance, depending on the infield behind him. Only one runner reached third base against him as infielders Ridenour, Knight and Kroemer relentlessly speared grounders and liners. Double-plays killed potential rallies in the first and second innings.

Moorhead and Ernzen both had two hits and scored twice for PowerHouse. Knight, Kroemer, John Albers and Keller also had two apiece for the winners, who totaled 14 hits. Mike Fair and Ed Jankowski had two singles apiece for Putt-Putt.

Still, opponents would be mistaken to count Putt-Putt out too early. A week earlier, in its tournament opener, Putt-Putt trailed Holy Smokes Pizza 10-2 before a fierce 10-run rally in the top of the seventh inning eventually led to extra innings. In the ninth that night, Putt-Putt put the game away with a power show that created 13 runs for a 26-14 verdict.

Putt-Putt, coached by John Rice, wasn’t the same team Thursday. Out of town and missing from his lineup was the league’s most feared slugger, Faron Lubbers, who also may be MSSL’s top defensive player. Bob Gorny, solid and steady, missed the championship as well, and Rice scraped together a lineup that just met the 11-player standard.

In previous tournaments, some finalists have kept weaker players off the lineup card. The logic would be that a thinner lineup gives stronger hitters more trips to the plate by having fewer likely outs at the bottom of the order.

To its credit, PowerHouse batted all 14 of its players. “We have always hit everyone,” Nace said. “That goes back to when I came in the league and Dave McIntire was coach. We hit 17 in a tourney championship game six or seven years ago.”

In Thursday’s opener, Nace’s bottom five went a combined 0-for-10. With those extra outs lower in the order, only five of PowerHouse’s batters had three trips to the plate.

With the tournament on the line in the second game, Nace stayed with his 14-player commitment, and it paid off. Those same bottom-five hitters produced six hits and scored six times. They also were key to a five-spot in the third inning that overcame a 1-0 deficit.

After Kirby Prenkert reached on an infield error, Bill Snyder singled, Hill popped out and Nace singled to load the bases. Tom Barnes, who filled the 14th spot, knocked a ball up the middle that was deflected by the pitcher’s glove, scoring two runs. Moorhead singled, Ernzen reached on an error, Knight delivered another hit and Kroemer hit a sacrifice fly to reach the five mark.

A pesky rain left the field a bit slippery, and that may have aided Putt-Putt’s comeback effort as Scott Martin reached on a rare infield error in the fourth. An out later, Don Torok slapped a single, and Scott Britton followed with a hit that brought home two runs. Andy Gemske later drove in a run to bring the score to 5-4.

That’s the way it was until Knight broke the game open in the top of the sixth. Moorhead had reached on a single before Knight lofted a fly over the left-center fence. Kroemer, Ridenour and Gerard Xaver followed with runs, and suddenly the score seemed out of reach.

Knight’s was the only homer of the evening for either team.

As in the first game, Hill kept Putt-Putt’s offense under control, allowing just eight hits and no walks. He said batters went to three-ball counts on him six or eight times during the evening but always ended up swinging at pitches that were too good to ignore. PowerHouse’s infield turned another two double-plays.

Knight was among three players with three hits, the others being Xaver and Snyder. For the evening, Knight totaled five hits in five at-bats, scoring twice and driving in four runs. Moorhead had four hits and scored four runs. Keller also had four hits.

Despite the two defeats on the tourney’s final night, this was a step-forward season for Putt-Putt, which typically finished in third place or lower in recent years. The team claimed second place for the regular season with a 13-11 mark. PowerHouse earned its fifth consecutive league title at 20-4.

The championship game crowd was treated to a Dollar Day promotion in the concession stand. A similar discount, which will include slices from Holy Smokes Pizza, is planned for the Aug. 22 championship games for the senior division.

PowerHouse manager Jim Nace.

Below: Bob Knight was one of Thursday’s stars.

Jimmy Hill pitched the opening game shutout.

Linescores and individual batting, thanks to score-keeping by Gary Marcus

Game 1

Putt-Putt 000 000 0 – 0

PowerHouse 312 000 x – 7

At-bats-runs-hits-RBI

Putt-Putt: Dave Melander 3-0-1-0, Scott Martin 3-0-1-0, Joe Gambill 3-0-1-0, Mike Fair 3-0-2-0, Don Torok 3-0-0-0, Scott Britton 2-0-1-0, Ed Jankowski 2-0-2-0, Andy Gemske 2-0-0-0, Frank Gorny 2-0-0-0, Rob Harris 2-0-0-0, Mark Kruszynski 2-0-0-0. Totals 27-0-8-0.

PowerHouse: Tod Moorhead 3-2-2-0, Mike Ernzen 3-2-2-1, Bob Knight 2-1-2-2, Adam Kroemer 3-1-2-1, Jim Ridenour 3-0-1-2, Gerard Xaver 2-0-0-0, Matt Creviston 2-0-1-0, John Albers 2-1-2-0, Jerome Keller 2-0-2-1, Kirby Prenkert 2-0-0-0, Bill Snyder 2-0-0-0, Jimmy Hill 2-0-0-0, Jim Nace 2-0-0-0, Tom Barnes 2-0-0-0. Totals 32-7-14-7.

Game 2

PowerHouse 005 005 2 – 12

Putt-Putt 100 300 0 – 4

PowerHouse: Moorhead 4-2-2-1, Ernzen 3-0-0-0, Knight 3-1-3-2, Kroemer 2-1-1-1, Ridenour 3-1-1-1, Xaver 3-1-3-0, Creviston 3-0-0-0, Albers 3-0-0-0, Keller 3-0-2-0, Prenkert 3-2-0-0, Snyder 3-2-3-0, Hill 3-0-1-0, Nace 3-1-1-0, Barnes 3-1-1-2. Totals 42-12-19-8.

Putt-Putt: Melander 3-1-2-0, Martin 3-1-1-0, Gambill 3-0-1-0, Fair 3-1-1-0, Torok 3-1-1-2, Britton 3-0-1-1, Jankowski 2-0-0-1, Gemske 3-0-1-0, Gorny 3-0-0-0, Harris 3-0-0-0, Kruszynski 2-0-0-0. Totals 30-4-8-4.

PowerHouse earns it again

PowerHouse Electric battled for two wins Thursday to earn a repeat championship in the junior division against Putt-Putt.
Pitcher Jimmy Hill kept the opposition off-balance and PowerHouse infield turned two double plays in the opener for a 7-0 victory. Putt-Putt had eight hits but advanced only one runner to third base during that shutout.
Bob Knight and Jim Ridenour each drove in two runs for the winners.
Putt-Putt, playing without two of its top hitters, nearly pulled off a victory in the second game, clawing back from an early 5-0 deficit with a four-run rally in the fourth inning.
Don Torok, Scott Britton and Ed Jankowski all had RBIs for Putt-Putt in that inning, which followed a brief delay because of a quick cloudburst.
But Knight’s two-run homer to left-center was the key hit in a five-run sixth inning that seemed to seal the deal. Putt-Putt simply was unable to answer, and the verdict was in.
More details will be available later. The tournament ends the junior division season, and the senior tournament will start Tuesday, Aug. 15.