After a close game, the Arthritics lost their grip, while the Pounders held strong.
Monday night at Sharpe Field, the Arthritics fell to the Pounders in a third game of the playoff series, 7-4. Though the game began evenly matched, the Pounders eventually pulled through, gaining the last three points to take the game.
In the first inning, the Arthritics played well in their usual deep outfield catching, with a particularly strong performance by Brandon Keogh. But the second two outs of the first inning came in a different way. After a line drive to second base, the runner at second was tagged out; the ball then flew to find the mitt of the first baseman.
The second inning only got more tense for the Arthritics as they stepped up to bat. With two bases loaded, John Steere cracked off a huge triple to the far-right outfield, sending both runners home.
With a mix of strong and weak plays, in addition to big hits, the Pounders returned to bat and were ready to play. Their first batter for the third inning, Kyle Mayer, took his first swing, hitting the ball over the back fence of the field into the neighboring playground.
While ordinarily this would be a home run, in the Chautauqua slow-pitch softball league’s case, it is an automatic out to discourage the possibility of hurting anyone outside the game.
And Mayer’s was not the only hit of that caliber in game three, with two more Pounders living up to their team’s name and taking the ball over the fence or back into the weeds.
As the Arthritics came into the fifth inning with a score of 5-4, it still seemed like anybody’s game.
Pounders pitcher Robert Burkholder was locked in and threw some perfect pitches, not allowing any points to be scored, and eventually closed out the final inning with a perfect pitching run.
After the game ended, the coaches only had good things to say as the players shook hands and joked around with one another.
Pounders Coach Eric Tarr praised both teams and is excited for the championship.
“These guys grind,” Tarr said. “They grind every day. I’m lucky to have them, and we’ll see what happens Wednesday.”
Though the Arthritics did not make it to the championship game this season, Men’s League Commissioner and Arthritics Coach Mark Altschuler echoed Tarr’s pride for the players.
“We had a great season,” Altschuler said. “We had a lot of close games, and all the players on other teams are our opponents but also friends, and we’re looking forward to seeing them play each other on Wednesday.”
The men’s softball championship will take place at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Sharpe Field, between Team Boggs and the Mayville Pounders.