Hurricanes and Highlanders to play for men’s softball championship

Best-of-three final series begins on Monday night at Veterans Park.

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Two familiar foes will battle for the men’s Island Softball League crown as the Highlanders and Hurricanes closed out their respective semifinal series. The ‘Canes beat the Whitecaps, 15-6, on Wednesday night to sweep the best-of-three series, 2-0, while the Highlanders topped the Brewhas in three games with a 12-6 win on Thursday.

The second-seeded Hurricanes are the three-time defending champs and have won the league title in five of the past six seasons. The top-seeded Highlanders interrupted the streak by winning the championship in 2013 and beat the Hurricanes in the 2010 finals. The ‘Canes returned the favor in 2011.

Wednesday night at Veterans Park, the ‘Canes and ‘Caps were deadlocked in a 2-2 defensive stalemate until the sixth inning, when Pat Rolston blasted a homerun and sparked a seven-run outburst. Luke Bettencourt and Evan Sosa hit a pair of two-run homers in the bottom half for the ‘Caps but the Hurricanes put the game out of reach with six more runs in the seventh.

The Highlanders, meanwhile, faced elimination in the nightcap against the Brewhas and won the second game of the series in a 24-23 thriller. Owen Maloney singled to left for the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh as the Highlanders overturned a 23-21 Brewhas lead and held on for the win by turning a double play to close out the game.

In the series finale on Thursday night, the Highlanders jumped on top, 5-0, in the first inning and made the lead stick, thanks to a pair of Jeremy Scheffer home run blasts in the second and fifth. The Brewhas powerful offense was held in check for most of the game, save for an Amos Cavallo home run in the second inning and Shawn Reed’s triple in the third.

Highlight reel defense took center stage as the game came to a close. First Matt Gebo of the Brewhas fired a dart from deep center field to nail the Highlanders runner at the plate and end the sixth inning. Highlanders second baseman John “Johnny Mazz” Mazza responded by leaping to snare Matt Alexander’s line drive for the first out in the seventh.

The best-of-three championship series gets underway Monday night at Veterans Park in Vineyard Haven at 7 pm. Game two is scheduled for Wednesday night and game 3, if necessary, will be on Thursday.