After a rain out on July 26, Kestler’s and The Gravity Inn finally faced off at the Homer Dome in Game One of their semifinal series in the Wayne County Men’s Softball League playoffs.
On the Attack
Kestler’s slugger Buddy Vail wasted no time putting his team on the board with a 3-run home run against Gravity’s Wally Kulick.
Unshaken, Kulick refocused and finished the side and his team faced off against Pete Saprona, who promptly blanked hometown Gravity in the bottom of the inning. Both teams would go scoreless in the second and the third in what became a defensive battle.
Neither Kulick nor Saprona gave up many walks nor made many strikeouts, both instead relying on a strategy of pitching hard strikes and letting the batters connect.
While hitters made it to base, few legged out extra bags. Hard hit grounders were fielded well and advancing runners were casually thrown out. One by one, each side took turns trying to score, but at the end of each inning players were left stranded and no one crossed the plate.
Things would continue this way through the fourth inning.
Stellar defense by both Kestler’s and The Gravity Inn kept each other in check. Outfielders easily shut down the offensive attempts from even the biggest bats. Here and there a lucky player would make it to base and at best would advance to third courtesy of a sacrifice.
Kestler’s seemed poised for big inning in the fifth as a hard-hit double by J.W. Swanick advanced another runner to third with Buddy Vail on deck.
With two runners in scoring position, Vail couldn’t repeat his earlier homer and left his teammates on the bags.
Unfulfilled offensive attempts would not be the only disappointment to Kestler’s in the fifth. What so far was looking to be a shutout for Saprona soon ended when Gravity’s Jason Hunter walked in.
With bases still loaded, an interference call prevented further Gravity runs, but the deed was done and Kestler’s headed into the sixth with only a 2-run lead.
Over & Out
The sixth inning yielded no runs for either team, again, as the defense kept each team at bay.
Infielders turned plays quickly and a spectacular diving catch by Swanick in left field ended the inning.
Behind the Gravity dugout, pitcher Richie Walker was seen warming-up, but as the top of the seventh rolled around, Kulick returned to the mound still delivering strong pitches and quickly retired the side.
Gravity made a final stand in the bottom of the seventh. Dave Rupp scored on a RBI single by Joe Maracavage, bringing them to within one of Kestler’s.
Then, with Tim Bilski and Maracavage on base, Kulick decided to earn his win the hard way and ripped a line drive into right field. This clutch basehit drove in two and catapulted Gravity over the top in dramatic fashion.
The final score was 4-3.
Score by Innings...
KEST 3 0 0 0 0 0 - 3
GRAV 0 0 0 0 1 0 - 4