Men’s softball semifinals set

Highlanders, Whitecaps, Blazers, and Hurricanes win first-round series.

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The semifinals of the men’s Island Softball League playoffs are set, after the remaining first-round series concluded with a triple-header Monday night at Veterans Park.

In the opening game, the Blazers completed a two-game sweep over the Mermen with a 16-1 win. Ronnie Miske and Billy Panek each clubbed two-run homers to spark a six-run second inning. Mike O’Brien and Jeff Wingo knocked in two runs apiece, while Josh Cotterell, Wes Halkyard, Andrew Williamson, Lucas Landers. and winning pitcher Ben Madeiras had an RBI each. Trevor McCarthy tripled in the fifth, and Mike Mussell went yard in the Blazers sixth. The Mermen scored their only run in the third inning, with pitcher Harry Kisiel scoring Matt Montanile on a sac fly. Zachary Steinhart was the defensive standout for the Mermen, making three great running grabs in left-center field.

The top-seeded Highlanders were slow to get going in the middle game of the evening, but an 11-run fourth inning changed their fortunes in a hurry as they downed the Floaters 23-7 to win the best-of-three series, 2-0.

John Mazza started off the titanic fourth with a single, and added another as the Highlanders batted around and then some. Matt Kurth tripled and doubled with an RBI, Jeremy Scheffer tripled, Ryan Kurth singled to knock in a run, Russell Hodson doubled and scored two, Dan Merry added a single to go with an RBI from the first inning, Todd Hitchings did the same, and then there were the Cooperriders. Kyp had a sac fly for an RBI, Nainoa doubled, and Jock cleared the bases with an inside-the-park home run.

Not to be left out, in the previous inning, Axel Cooperrider, upon receiving a perfect throw from his outfielder brother Nainoa, threw a dart from second base to catcher Hitchings, who tagged Nick Viera at the plate after Derek McFarlane had batted in Dave Bernstein with the Floaters’ first run.

Down 17-1 in the fifth inning, the Floaters gamely fought back with four runs and added two more in the sixth. Derek McFarlane again had the big hit, and picked up a pair of RBIs. Adam Petkus added two singles.

In the nightcap of the triple-bill, the Whitecaps topped the Brewhas 9-5 to win the rubber game of the best-of-three series. Lucas Brewer powered the ‘Caps attack with two home runs.

The four-time defending champion Hurricanes had the night off, thanks to a two-game sweep of the Misfits on August 1 and 2.

The best-of-three semifinals start on Thursday night at Veterans Park and continue Monday, then Wednesday, if necessary. The No. 3 ‘Canes continue their drive for five with a matchup against the No. 2 Blazers, while the top-seeded Highlanders take on the No. 5 Whitecaps. The first game begins at 7 pm, with the second contest at 8:15.