The Blazers closed out June by topping the Island Softball League standings with a perfect 8-0 record, following a 17-3 win over the Gustaves Monday night at Veterans Park in Vineyard Haven. The game was close through the first three innings, but the Blazers led throughout.
Josh Cotterell got the Blazers off to a hot start with a leadoff double. John Van Putten followed with an RBI single up the middle. Billy Panek made it 2-0 with a single to right field. Gustaves shortstop Michael Montanile helped stop further damage with a leaping grab on a line drive.
After the Gustaves (named for an African species of crocodile) went quietly in the first, the Blazers added a third run on a Josh Cotterell sac fly to lead 3-0, heading into the bottom of the second.
Luke Sudarsky put the Crocs on the board by singling to center, scoring Tyler Johnson.
The third inning was uneventful, but the Blazers seized control of the game with seven runs in the fourth. Josh Cotterell hit a two-RBI double to get things started. Billy Panek batted in two more runs with a single to right. Lamar Mories knocked in John Van Putten, and Michael O’Brien batted in the final run, giving the Blazers a 10-1 lead.
Gustaves pitcher Matt Montanile chalked up an RBI single to get a run back for the Crocs, but the Blazers stayed in command, tacking on seven more runs in the fifth and seventh innings. Lamar Moreis tripled, while Billy Panek and Michael O’Brien singled to lead the way in the Blazers’ fifth. Tom Corr scored the final Gustaves run in the bottom of the sixth on an errant throw. The Blazers put an exclamation point on their win with four runs as Matt Rivers tripled, Billy Panek singled, and Lamar Moreis rounded the bases on a double and two-base error.
With the Blazers win in the books, the Brewhas and Highlanders were next to take the field Monday night.
The Brewhas took charge from the outset, scoring eight runs in the first inning and holding on for a 15-9 win.
Tim Millerick keyed the Brewhas fast start by crushing a three-run homer to left center. Jordan Hoehn and Kevin Hatt knocked in two RBIs apiece, while Matt Gebo stroked an RBI single. An Amos Cavallo sac fly put the Highlanders in a 9-0 hole after two.
The Highlanders got on the board with two in the third. Eric Soikkeli led off with a home run, and Ryan Rossi added an RBI.
The Brewhas restored the nine-run lead in the bottom half of the third, thanks to two RBIs from Ronnie Miske. The damage would have been worse if not for Jeremy Scheffer’s laser throw to Russell Hodson, putting out Miske at third.
Feeding off the big defensive play, the Highlanders answered with two runs. Eric Soikkeli batted in Jeremy Scheffer, and Ryan Kurth singled to score Russell Hodson.
The teams put up four runs apiece in their next at-bats. Ronnie Miske, Jordan Hoehn, and Matt Gebo paced the Brewhas in the bottom half of the fifth. The Highlanders responded in the sixth as Johnny “Mazz” Mazza jacked a three-run homer and Ryan Kurth scored on a fielder’s choice.
Trailing 15-8, the Highlanders needed a big seventh inning, but scored only once on a Jeremy Scheffer single to right. Matt Gebo of the Brewhas followed with the catch of the game, making a dazzling running grab against the fence in right center.
The final game of the evening was over quickly. The Whitecaps rolled to 20-0 lead after three innings and downed Team South Beach 21-6 in six innings. The win was welcome relief for the ‘Caps, who lost a 16-15 thriller to the defending champion Hurricanes on June 25.
Luke Bettencourt had the big stick, launching two towering home runs, a two-run shot to left in the first, and a three-run dinger to dead center in a 13-run ‘Caps third. Lucas Brewer had a two-run homer on the night. Evan Sosa and Zach Coutinho had two RBIs each; Matt Sanderson had one.
Alex Poole cleared the bases to key a four-run fifth as Team South Beach staved off the mercy rule and forced a sixth inning. Rob Andrews and Nick Costello had an RBI apiece for T.S.B.
Island Softball League standings through June 30: Blazers 8-0; Hurricanes 6-1; Highlanders 5-3; Brewhas 4-3; Whitecaps 3-4; Floaters 2-4; Shockers 2-5; Gustaves 1-5; Team South Beach 1-6.