goleader.com - Union County, NJ Newspapers 97sep11

Scotch Plains NJ Softball
The Grapes Ooze Sweetness, Sour the JCC Old Stars, 8-5

By DAVID B. CORBIN Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

The Sour Grapes savored the sweet taste of victory after shutting off the lights of the Old Stars, 8-5, in the Jewish Community Center (JCC) Softball League Championship game at Farley Field in Scotch Plains on September 7.

The Old Stars played without the services of one of their shining stars, Harry Semple, who had broken his arm a few days prior to the title game.

These teams have not been strangers in championship games; it was the fifth year in a row the two teams have faced each other for all the spoils. Last year, the Sour Grapes defeated the Old Stars in the title game and have won four of the last five titles. The Old Stars have been the only team to squeeze a victory away from the Sour Grapes.

The Old Stars’ defense was solid in the first inning, yielding a hit only to Todd Schechter of the Sour Grapes. The defense of the Sour Grapes gave up singles to Ron Manne and Tim Conroy, but yielded no runs to the Old Stars in the bottom of the first.

John Yannuzzi of the Sour Grapes smashed a single to lead off the second inning. Jim Baumgartner bounced a single to third and Lowell Weiner brought home Yannuzzi on a single to right, then Baumgartner scored as Weiner was thrown out at second. Darren Drapkin dumped a single to left, Chick Kaplan hopped a single to right and Owen Drapkin walked to load the bases for Mel Coren who sacrificed to center which drove in Darren Drapkin with the third run.

The Sour Grapes prevented the Old Stars from shining in the bottom of the second when Jason Berger made a fabulous sliding catch in center and doubled up Bob Rosen who previously had singled. Marc Schweitzer of the Old Stars followed up with a single just after the double play.

After no runs were scored by either team in the third, the Sour Grapes increased its lead to 5-0 by adding two more runs in the fourth. Jason Berger looped a single over first, Schechter punched a single to left and Berger bolted home as the ball was dropped by the center fielder. Jim Airey then sailed a single to center as Schechter dashed across the plate.

A scoring threat by the Old Stars in the fourth was snuffed out after Steve Aronson and Manne both singled when Sour Grape shortstop Erik Berger scooped up a grounder, flicked it to the second baseman who in turn tossed the ball to first for the double play. George Chromoy of the Old Stars also drew a walk in the inning.

Darren Drapkin led off the fifth for the Sour Grapes, reached first safely and advanced to second due to an error in left field, then Kaplan slashed a single to center to send home Drapkin, giving the Sour Grapes a sweet 6-0 lead.

A flash of light was emitted by the Old Stars in the bottom of the fifth. Jim St. Lifer drew a lead off base-on-balls, then Schweitzer drilled a double in the gap between left and center as St. Lifer came in to score the Old Stars’ first run of the game.

The score was narrowed to 6-3 after the bottom of the sixth when the Old Stars glowed with two more runs. Ron Brachman poked a single to center, Steve Aronson hooked a single to left and Manne reached on a fielder’s choice. Conroy stepped to the plate and ripped an RBI single to center and Chromoy brought home Manne with the second run of the inning by hitting into a fielder’s choice.

The Sour Grapes scored their seventh run in the seventh inning. Rick Wolf skid a leadoff single to center, but a brilliant diving catch of a grounder, off the bat of Howard Flisser made by Old Star shortstop Manne and his alert throw to second, nailed Wolf for the force out.

Jim Kirstein hit into a fielder’s choice, but the double play throw from second to first was high and Kirstein darted to second. Arnie Cohen stepped to the plate and punched a single to center to drive in Kirstein.

Another flash from the Old Stars was dimmed in the seventh with one out when Sour Grape shortstop Erik Berger grabbed a grounder whipped it to the second baseman who then fired the ball to first for the inning-ending double play. St. Lifer and Schweitzer had led off the inning with singles.

Schechter got his third hit of the game for the Sour Grapes when he crushed a double to left. Airey got his second RBI of the morning when he chopped a single up the middle as Schechter zoomed in to score the eighth run. Erik Berger also whacked a single in the inning.

Billy Emmons drew a leadoff walk for the Old Stars in the bottom of the eighth, Brachman banged a single to right, then Manne manhandled an RBI single to left as the ever-exuberant Emmons came face-diving safely into home. Conroy got his second RBI of the morning when he sacrificed home Brachman to make the score 8-5.

After holding the Sour Grapes, the Old Stars needed to score four runs in order to wash the stain of defeat off their hands. Rosen flied out to right for the first out, St. Lifer dribbled an infield single to third, and Schweitzer sparkled by lashing his fourth hit of the game to left field.

Doug Barash hit into a unique fielder’s choice for the second out, then Bob Kendler knocked a liner to left which was securely snagged by Schechter for the final out of the game

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David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader and The Times

A CLUSTER OF JUBILANT SOUR GRAPES…How sweet it is to win their fourth Jewish Community Center (JCC) Softball League championship in five years. The Sour Grapes defeated the Old Stars, 8-5, at Farley Field in Scotch Plains on September 7. Clustered, left to right, are: front row, Darren Drapkin, Dan Shinderman, Owen Drapkin, Todd Schechter, Jason Berger, Chickie Kaplan, Jim Kerstein; middle row, Howard Flisser, Rick Wolf, Jim Baumgartner, Mel Coren, and, back row, Arnie Cohen, Lowell Weiner, Jim Airey, John Yannuzzi, Erik Berger, Jon Applebaum.

Copyright 1997
TheWestfield Leader
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Revised: September 15, 1997.