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A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains - Fanwood Thursday, July 15, 1999 Page 11



Westfield Softball Fields Become Topic of County Conversation




Jolly Trolley Makes a Clamor; Bangs Mattress Factory, 12-9


Ferrara’s Auto Rumbles Over Jade Isle Softballers, 10-8 By DAVID B. CORBIN

Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

Ferrara’s Auto Center held off a hitting surge from the Jade Isle in the fourth and fifth innings and went on to record a 10-8 victory in Scotch Plains Softball League play at Brookside Park in Scotch Plains on July 7. Mike Petersen kept the Auto men on a steady course by rapping a double, a triple and a single while driving in three runs.

Great defense was present as the Jade Isle pulled off three double plays,

a fine running catch and a brilliant scoop of a grounder at third base. Ferrara’s turned one double play then added a breathtaking catch in deep center field to finalize the game.

The Auto men revved their engines and took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Greg McComb whacked the first of his five hits in the game to lead off the inning. Dave Serido slashed a single to right-center, then Petersen pounded a two-run double.

Mike Kuchar crunched a two-out triple to center in the bottom of the

first for the Islanders and John Faber tapped an RBI single to right-center, but Ferrara’s jumped its lead to 4-1 in the second. Kevin Lester singled to left, McComb singled to center and Dave Serido smacked a two-run single to left-center.

After Dave Eckert singled in the second for the Jade Isle, Ferrara’s shortstop Dave Serido initiated a slick second-to-first double play to close the inning. Islander second baseman Dave Anderson made a great running snag to record the first out in the third, but Paul and Pat O’Sullivan both singled, then Dan Serido poked an RBI single to left to give Ferrara’s a 5-1 lead.

Jim Lynch yanked a leadoff single past third for the Jade Isle in the third and John Rachko hit into a force play. Mark Zyla zipped a single to left, then Tom Straniero stomped an RBI ground-rule double to right.

Back raced the Auto men with two runs in the fourth to take a 7-2 lead. McComb mashed his third single but became the victim of a smooth second-to-first double play initiated by shortstop Chris Klukas. Paul Rubinetti wiggled an infield single and Petersen pummeled an RBI triple off the fence in left. Petersen then scored on Mike Whalen’s triple to center.

The Jade Isle glittered in its half of the inning and closed the score to 76 with a four-run spurt. Faber walked and Anderson singled to right-center. Faber then scored when the relay


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

It takes teamwork to win a softball game, but sometimes a startling play can turn the tide of a game. Shortstop Paul Stofa made that startling play in the sixth inning to kill a potential Mattress Factory rally. Exuberant with Stofa’s brilliance, the Jolly Trolley scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth and put the Mattress Factory to rest, 12-9, in a Westfield Men’s Softball League game at Tamaques Park in Westfield on July 6.

Field conditions were at an alltime low. The infield looked like the surface of the moon and the outfield looked like it had been pelted with mortar shells. Mother nature had burned out the grass and hardened the surface. It certainly was a hitter’s paradise and a fielders nightmare. Despite the treacherous conditions, Stofa and several others courageously performed their fielding magic.

The Mattress Factory did not enter the game lying down. In the top of the

first a hustling Tim Walsh turned a would be single up-the-middle into a double. Jordan Scher plunked an RBI double over the second baseman’s head, then Scott Johnson gave the Factory men a 2-0 lead with an RBI sacrifice fly to right-center. Ron Shovlin also added a double in the inning.

The Jolly Trolley chuckled it off and banged out five in the bottom of the inning. Stofa beat out an infield single and darted to second on the throwing error. Tom Jogis jolted a single to right and Don Tobey bashed an RBI single to center. Erik Berger stepped up and sizzled a two-run, standup triple straight down the right field line. Bobby Jones brought in Berger with an infield single, then Dave Ciarrocca cracked a single past third. Jones later scored on an error at first base.

Back bounced the Mattress Factory with four runs in the second to take a 6-5 lead. Mike DeClarico led off with a single to center. Rob

Rowland reached base on a fielder’s choice and Mike Cheety plopped a single over second. Al Manzi bounced a two-run double off the hard surface in center, then Jay Halsey hammered a two-run homer over the left fielder’s head.

With a positive attitude, the Jolly men tied the score in the second. Jogis screamed a single to right and Tobey trickled an infield single. Erik Berger battered a shot past the legs of the third baseman and Jogis jogged home.

In the third, Shovlin sliced an outof-control, whirling infield double which spun out of the reach of the third baseman. Joe Walsh put the Mattress Factory ahead 7-6, with a blazing RBI double which whizzed over the bag at third.

Desiring to be on the advantageous side of the see-saw battle, the Trolley clanged with two in the third. Ciarrocca singled over second and Lee Marks singled to center.


St. Joseph Growls; Humbles Bewildered St. Anne, 17-13


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

St. Joseph hammered away early, scoring three runs in the first inning and six runs in the second, to build a 9-1 lead and continued pounding until it nailed down a 17-13 victory over St. Anne in a St. Bartholomew’s Oldtimers Mens Softball League game at Brookside Park in Scotch Plains on July 8. Expert carpenter Dave Rothenberg erected a masterpiece with seven RBI and a perfect 4for-4 day which included a monumental grand slam home run.

Frank Pepe peppered a leadoff single for St. Joseph in the top of the first, then later scored on

Rothenberg’s RBI single to center. Pete Chemidlin crashed an RBI triple off the fence in center and Charlie Kreyer gave the St. Joe men a 3-0 lead with a sacrifice fly to left field.

St. Anne answered with a run in the lower half of the inning. Pete DeChristofaro legged out an infield single and Jerry Reipe reached base on an error. Dan Margolis steamed a sizzler which was smothered by second baseman Matt Fugett in time to throw out the runner heading for second. Then, Charlie Laskowski lashed an RBI single to left.

St. Joseph tapped away with six runs in the second. Bob Brennan and Joe Matuska had back-to-back singles

and Fugett loaded the bases with a walk. Al Weber spun an RBI single to left and Dean Talcott scribbled an RBI single past the second baseman. Rothenberg then strutted to the plate and dished out his highly tasteful grand slam.

After both teams failed to score in their next at-bats, St. Anne livened and scored four in the third, making the score, 9-5. Margolis wiggled an infield single and Laskowski followed with a single to center. Dom Deo bopped a single left, then Wally Bradshaw whacked an RBI single to left. John Wilkinson lofted an RBI sacrifice fly to left and Rich Chaplin


This extra burden, along with the normal Little League teams and softball leagues which have been using the field for years, has been extremely damaging.

“It’s not really well maintained,” noted Mr. Hobson. “We don’t need the field lined or watered down like a professional field. All we ask is that the infield be dragged and the rough spots in the outfield be flattened out.”

According to Mr. Hobson, this maintenance work “could solve the problem for our fields.”

“If they (the Westfield Public Works Department) allowed us to maintain the fields, drop some dirt off and give us some equipment to drag the field, it would be a lot less of a burden on them. We would make sure that the fields would be in good shape,” Mr. Hobson continued.

Tamaques Park seems to offer no facilities for watering the fields during dry spells. During the summer, the infields have appeared as dust bowls, the grass has turned into brown wire, and the entire field assumes the

texture of concrete. “I am not sure that there are any watering facilities. It happens every year. We get a dry spell and the fields do burn out,” commented Mr. Hobson. “There is really not much that you can do about that except hope that Mother Nature rains, but not on a softball game day.”

With personal concern, Mr. Hobson continued, “It’s a danger factor for us. We know that we sign a waiver. A bad hop is a bad hop. It happens anywhere, but if the fields are properly manicured, the chance of a bad hop is less likely.”

When Mr. Hobson started playing with the Westfield Men’s Softball League, the league had 10 teams. Presently there are just six teams.

“I don’t think that the field conditions play that big of a role. Maybe 20 percent,” said Mr. Hobson of the league’s decline in size. “A lot of team members get married, have families and (the teams) lose numbers due to attrition.”

By comparison, Mr. Hobson mentioned that since the Gumbert Park

fields have been taken over by the Westfield Youth Baseball League, their condition has significantly improved.

“They are in better shape now than I can remember since I played Little League ball there,” said Mr. Hobson. “The parents have made it their responsibility to make sure that those fields are in tip-top shape. The fields have never looked better. Every time I drive by there the fields are always looking good.”

Mr. Hobson continued, “I noticed that when they redid the fields at Gumbert, they built a shed where they keep their equipment, rakes and field liners. I noticed that during even business hours, parents were taking care of the field.”

“That is how you do it! You just delegate responsibility,” Mr. Hobson pointed out.

Tim Walsh of the Mattress Factory, who presently lives in Iselin, grew up in Scotch Plains and has played in the WMSL for 15 years.

“Out of all the leagues that I play in, which includes Fanwood, Springfield and Scotch Plains, these are the worst kept fields.

“There really doesn’t seem to be a (Public Works) department which is dedicated to care for these fields. There doesn’t seem to be a line of communication. The fields are never raked and they are in a dangerous state. They have been for years. I have seen the fields steadily deteriorate,” he commented.

“There are several players in the league who have suggested that they would drag the fields themselves if they were given access to the proper equipment,” Mr. Walsh added, “or with the money that we pay for the league, there should be at least some maintenance.”

Jordan Scher, who grew up in Scotch Plains and who has played in Fanwood, Springfield and WMSL for 15 years, said, “It is important for field maintenance to prevent people


David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader and The Times

SIZZLING A DOUBLE OVER THE BAG…Joe Walsh of the Mattress Factory sizzles a dangerously hopping double over the bag at third on an equally sizzling evening at Tamaques Park in Westfield.

David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader and The Times

RUNAWAY BAG AFTER AN EXCITING PLAY AT THIRD…The bag goes flying after Al Antoine of St. Joseph slides unsuccessfully into third. St. Anne third baseman John Wilkinson hung in there to tag him out. St. Joseph avenged an earlier season shutout by St. Anne and won 17-13 at Brookside Park in Scotch Plains on July 8.

David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader and The Times

SAFE AT THIRD…Mike Whalen of Ferrara’s Auto steps safely on third with a stand-up triple as Jade Isle third baseman Mark Zyla puts on the tag.

David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader and The Times

TIM WALSH SIZING UP THE PITCH…Mattress Factory hitter Tim Walsh sizes up the pitch thrown by Jolly Trolley pitcher Lee Marks during their game on July 6 at Tamaques Park in Westfield. Umpire Chris Curty prepares to make a call. With a lot of hustle, Walsh legged out a double.
Copyright 1999 - The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch Plains-Fanwood