Locally-based team cruises to another tournament title
The fifth annual Homer Dome Classic is in the books, but it didn’t end the way many would have liked.
The yearly benefit tournament for the Waymart Little League closed abruptly during the semi-finals on the final day.
Davis Excavating was in the lead over Wargo Flooring at the time the game was called due to rainstorms that soaked the area and left the field in an unplayable condition.
The defending champs, Wargo’s, were battling for a spot in the finals after succumbing to 2016 champs, Hawley Diner the day before.
The Davis club too had also lost a game to Diner gents on Saturday and were in the same boat. With no time available to reschedule for a later date, undefeated Hawley Diner was awarded the title.
Because they were winning when the game was called, Davis Excavating were the runners-up, and Wargo Flooring came in third.
“No one wants to win that way,” said Hawley Diner’s Jeff Swanick. “We put together a great team and we were ready to play.”
Softball tournaments make for strange bedfellows.
For the past 13 years, Wargo’s had maintained its reputation as the undisputed champions of the Wayne County Men’s League, however, with the league on an indefinite hiatus, Wargos’ relegated themselves to playing in the Wayne County Blue-Collar League.
Hawley Diner, which challenged Wargo’s for the men’s league title last summer opted not to field a team in the Blue-Collar league.
Oddly enough, Jeff Swanick, JW Swanick, and Buddy Vail signed on to Wargo’s for this season but reorganized with many of their players, switched jerseys, and took up the bats for the diner at the Homer Dome.
Add in four players from the defunct Van Gorder’s Furniture team from the men’s league, Jim Watson, Jeremy Watson, and Joel Watson (who play for Dunn’s Sawmill in the Blue-Collar league too) along with Richie Walker, who has slung for several teams in other tournaments, including Wargo’s, and it makes for an interesting dynamic, to say the least.
Aside from the Swanick and Watson brothers, the Hawley Diner crew also included Mark and John Granquist as well as Logan Freiermuth, Vail’s step-son.
Indeed, it was a family affair.
The first victim to fall to Hawley Diner was the club from FYI Graphics.
Remember that “strange bedfellows thing” Yeah, it showed up again.
FYI was put together by a Kestler’s/Hawley Diner alum, Keith “Stone” Paranich and the Swanicks and Vail have played for that sponsor too.
Sadly, for Stone and company, his old team make quick work of them and took the came in the sixth inning on Friday night by the 10-Run Rule.
Davis Excavating knocked out Hawley Diner last year but didn’t fair so well this time around.
In the opening bracket of Saturday’s play, they succumbed, and Hawley moved on to face the Enforcers later in the day.
They won that match-up as well and in the closing round of the second day, they came from behind in the bottom of the seventh to beat Wargo’s.
Wargo’s was up by two but the Diner Gents tied it up. Vail then singled and later scored when Jim Watson doubled after making a ground-rule double off the top of the fence.
That game Hawley Diner the win they needed to secure a spot in Sunday’s big game. The game that sadly, didn’t happen.
That’s a Wrap
According to Swanick, it’s unlikely the Hawley Diner team will take the field again this summer for another tournament.
Walker and Joel Watson were named co-MVPs for the team. Walker for his delivery to the dish and Watson for his strong performances at both the plate and third-base.
Other perennial standouts that also helped contribute to the Hawley Diner’s success Donnie Howell, Craig Ciarrocchi, Matt Fiorletta, Ryan “Rhino” O’Kelly, George Murphy, and Jon DeEsch while continued fan support came from the Swanick kids: Jett, Jae, Jeff-aka “Man” and their cousin Sawyer Jones.
“We'd really like to thank Jim Swanick and the Hawley Diner for making this all possible,” said Jeff Swanick. “And, also to Bob and Kyle Barna and the rest of the crew at the Homer Dome for putting on such an awesome tournament.”