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By DAVID B. CORBIN Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
St. Joseph battled its way back into the game, after being staggered early by St. Paul, and pulled out a come-from-behind, 7-6, victory in the St. Bartholomews Oldtimers Softball League semifinal round at Jerseyland Field in Scotch Plains on August 27.
St. Paul was ferocious in the top of the first inning as five players stomped across home plate. Bob Elmi knocked a single up-the-middle, Steve Ferro arced a single over short, and Tom Engleman angled an RBI single to left. Bill Reichle hammered a single to left and drove in Ferro and Engleman, Terry Gallagher lined a single down the third baseline to bring home Reichle, then Paul Nadolny poked a single in the gap by the shortstop to drive in Gallagher with the fifth run.
St. Joseph responded with two runs in the bottom of the first. Jim Hoelzel drew a base-on-balls to lead off the inning, Marc DiFrancesco drove in Hoelzel with a single to center, then Jim OConnor hit a sacrifice fly to right field as DiFrancesco tagged up and scored. St. Joseph continued as Bill Wolff walked, Jim Airey and Tom Maher both singled to load the bases, but Tom DeCataldo grounded to third for the third out.
Matt Vastano and Paul Morello singled in the second and Engleman added a single in the third for St. Paul, but no runners were able to cross home plate.
Jose Cardinale singled in the third, DiFrancesco and OConnor singled in the fourth, and Maher and Kevin McNamara added singles in the fifth for St. Joseph; however, no runs were scored.
Tony Barattucci was the only St. Paul player to get a hit in the sixth, but St. Joseph broke into a four-run scoring frenzy in the bottom of the sixth and went ahead of St. Paul, 6-5.
Matt Hoelzel sliced a single to right, Mike Ciufia hacked a single up-the-middle followed by an identical single from Cardinale. With the bases loaded Jim Hoelzel unloaded a two-run single to left, Ed Marchelitis banged a sacrifice fly to center as Cardinale tagged up at third and flew home, then DiFrancesco brought home the fourth run of the inning with a sizzling single to center.
St. Paul pushed its way back into a tie in the top of the seventh. Reichle drew a walk, and Gallagher thumped a triple over the center fielders head as Reichle scored. Gallagher attempted to stretch his triple into a home run, but a fine throw from the St. Joseph pitcher nailed Gallagher at the plate.
It was now down to the bottom of the seventh inning and one run would win the game foe St. Joseph. Maher reached first on an error, DeCataldo hopped a single to left, then John Esposito wiggled a single past second as Maher darted home with the winning run.
St. Joseph advanced to the finals to play a stubborn and tenacious St. Jude team at Brookside Park in Scotch Plains on September 1.
St. Paul 500 000 1 06
St. Joseph 200 004 1 07