By Mark Senna

After ten weeks of competitive softball games and dodging the mask police, we have made it to the finals. There were moments when our season was in jeopardy as the city issued shutdown warnings for leagues not complying with their social distancing guidelines. We stepped up our efforts and as a result, we are still playing softball.

Thankfully, we are in the last week of the season as both our “A” and “B” championship series are underway. At press time, Lincoln Tavern was holding a two games to none lead over the defending champion, Pat Simpson Club in the “A” final. That series was scheduled to continue on Tuesday at 8:30 pm then if needed, Wednesday at 7 pm and Thursday at 8:30 pm. The first two games of the series went as follows.

Game 1: Monday, September 21st

With the score tied 2-2 in the top of the fifth with two outs and the bases loaded, Taylor Ferguson hit a clutch two run double that put Lincoln in front to stay. Max Vigliotti followed with a RBI single that made it 5-2.

In the fifth, pitcher Chris Boyd retired the side in order and Simpson was down to their last six outs. As they have shown before, the Simpson Club can rally late in games and tonight was no different. Mark Goodman started the bottom of the sixth off with a single and took second on brother Brian’s walk. Simpson had Boyd and Lincoln right where they wanted them – two base runners on with their 4, 5, & 6 hitters coming to bat. However, Boyd retired Miguel Dupree on an infield pop out and then got Mike Bulman to chase an outside pitch for strike three. Simpson club would need a clutch two out hit just as Lincoln got an inning earlier. It wasn’t to be as Boyd and Lincoln escaped the inning without yielding a run.

There was little noise in the seventh as the Simpson Club surprisingly went down in order 1-2-3. Boyd’s counterpart, Mike Garland, took the loss and has to be a bit frustrated with the lack of run support. More so, Garland led the team with the highest batting average during the season yet he can’t crack the batting order in the playoffs. The defending champions will need to make some adjustments before game two on Thursday or face a daunting task of needing to win three in a row.    

Game 2:  Thursday, September 24th

With the Simpson Club trailing 5-4 in the top of the sixth inning, Miguel Dupree hit a towering two run homerun down the left field line that put Simpson in front. They weren’t done scoring in the inning either – a walk, single, and walk to Mike Bulman loaded the bases for Scott Simpson. On a 2-2 count, Scott (2 hits, 5 RBI) smoked a line drive to center that cleared the bases, 9-5! Lincoln got out of the inning without any further damage but the lead was lost and possibly the game too. This was my story in the sixth inning as watching from home I was quite sure Dupree’s homer would be the difference.

However, Lincoln had other ideas and responded in the bottom of the sixth by loading the bases with one out. On the first strike he saw, lefty hitter Conor Gleason, ripped a line drive to right center that split the outfielders and fell for a triple making it 9-8. The next batter hit a grounder to second which was plenty deep enough to score Gleason from third but he didn’t budge, still 9-8. A routine fly ball was the third out and Simpson was still in front heading to the seventh.

Oh the seventh inning…this one will be talked about for some time. After pitcher Chris Boyd and Lincoln’s defense held Simpson in the top of the inning, their offense would need to go to work against Mike Garland, who was brought into the game in the fifth. Slugger Max Vigliotti was up first and quickly started the inning with a hard single to right. Will Brennan then followed with a line drive single to left. Now here’s where “the call” that will be talked about for some time took place. Boyd hit a grounder to third baseman, Mike Gallo, who tried to tag the runner coming from second and then threw to first to get Boyd. There was confusion; Simpson thought they had turned a double play. Lincoln stated their case that he missed the base runner but got the batter at first. In the end, that’s where we stood…second and third with one out.

Jeff White was up next and on a 0-1 pitch, White hit a tapper out front of the plate that Garland pounced on but then threw wildly to home. Everyone was safe and the game was tied 9-9 with the bases still loaded. Mike Kent now had a chance to win the game and give Lincoln a commanding 2-0 series lead. However, Garland wasn’t having it as he struck Kent out on three pitches.

Enter Sean Gorman. Gorman is in his tenth year of play at M Street and has experienced his share of playoff heartbreak. Ball one is high and outside. Gorman was on a Lincoln team that was one out away from winning a championship. Ball two is high. In that same game, the score was tied 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh with runners on the corners. Foul ball. The count is 2-1. All Lincoln needed was a fly ball or a ground ball to get the runner in from third. Ball three is low. Instead, the batter hit a sharp ground ball to Steve Stalcup who flipped to Luis Colon and then fired to first to complete the double play. Lincoln would lose that game and the series. Ball four is high – the game is over! Gorman draws a two out bases loaded walk to give Lincoln a 2-0 series lead. It was a thrilling win for Lincoln and a gut wrenching loss for Garland and the Simpson Club. Their backs are against the wall and they will now need to win three in a row.

The “B” championship series between DRC and Betty’s/Publico was scheduled to get started on Monday. These are best of five series so it’s very possible they will be playing every night of the week. This is the first meeting between the clubs, as they didn’t face each other during the regular season. One thing that can be expected in this series is runs and plenty of them.

Betty’s scores in bunches and will be very tough to contain for the DRC defense. Their victories are usually one-sided affairs (14-5, 17-4) where they simply over power their opponent. Chris Peris, Steve Dazzo, Ryan McManus, Paul Iasiello, and Jack Sheehy bring the power while Alberto Vasquez handles the pitching duties. They were 5-1 in the playoffs and are more than capable of capturing their first championship at M Street.

On the other side of the diamond is the over achieving DRC squad. When we started the season eleven weeks ago, nobody would have picked them to be here in the finals. They narrowly won their “play-in” game, 9-8 over the Bombers and were facing elimination after falling behind to Dukies in the quarterfinals. However, they have found a way to persevere and keep their magical season alive.

Their pitcher, Jason Maxwell, will play a vital role in how this series goes but he’s going to need help. DRC has some great hitters in Tommy Clark, Ty Meka, Ben Roskamp, and Danny Kelley but they are not as deep as Betty’s lineup so their defense will need to make the plays in the field to offset the difference. It’s guaranteed to be a great week at the park but who will win the honors of lifting the prize trophy – the 40lb M Street Cup?

Photo image – M Street Cup

In closing, when the league made the move to broadcast all of the playoff games on FaceBook “live”, little did we know just how far the signal would travel. Former South Boston resident and M Street player, Danny Smallcomb, now resides in Sacramento, California. Danny tunes in most nights and says he’s 3000 miles away but feels like he’s sitting right behind home plate cracking jokes with his friends.   

Photo image – Danny Smallcomb tunes in to M Street from California

That will wrap up another busy week at this address. Reminder, “Like” our M Street Softball League page on FaceBook to catch our live playoff broadcasts. Games are played Monday through Friday starting at 7:00 pm and 8:30 pm but the schedule may change as it depends on each series. For the latest schedule, news, and more go to www.sbsports.com. Enjoy your week everyone!