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Of Bad Drivers, Roaming Cows and SOFTBALL
A Look at the Lake Erie Islands’ Softball League (June 2023) By Matt Amsden
What happens on the Island, stays on the Island. Or something like that. Nonetheless, what follows is a feeble attempt at summarizing 2023 game action for the Lake Erie Islands’ Softball League, which is alternately referred to as the “LEISL” or “The Best Little Brothel in Texas.” Since we engage neither in hustling nor live in Texas, I’m confused already. No matter: we’re all friends here, let’s begin.
SUNDAY, JUNE 4TH
Never let it be said that the DOHANOS BROTHERS would ever back down from a challenge. Or that TYLER KRAMP isn’t the pitcher/hitter reincarnation of Babe Ruth. Or that QUINTIN “Q” CANTELLI has ever hit a softball shorter than a country mile. Or that PATRICK BOVA should ever be underestimated.
All these things (and more) were confirmed on this opening night of LEISL play. New teams, new uniforms, a new season. All was right with the universe on June 4th, 2023, a breezy, cool evening brimming with expectation.
Where to begin? How about with the optic-orange jerseys of Blue Marlin, a new team comprise of over-fertilized athletes. They pawed at the ground pre-game, snorting like Pamplonan bulls in the starting gate. And why not? This collection of hitters couldn’t wait for its game vs. Mojito Bay, another new team, to begin. With a lineup including former college athletes and all-around bangers, Blue Marlin jumped out of the gate fast and never looked back en route to a 23-4 victory.
It’s not that Mojito’s struggled so much, which can be expected of a first-year team. It’s that Blue Marlin hit and pitched a ton. JALEN SANTORO started the bottom of the first inning with a triple, setting the table for Blue Marlin to score five in the opening frame. Winning pitcher TYLER KRAMP, who walked one and struck out two vs. Mojito Bay, added two triples. Big surprise that he was the pride of Otsego High School in 2006.
(Point of clarification: For 2023, the team known as “House” represents both Round House and Boathouse. With two powerhouse bars joined on one team, how could House go wrong?)
In the second game, House looked playoff-ready on opening night, scoring 16 runs in the first inning against shell-shocked Joe’s Bar. Clean-up hitter QUINTIN “Q” CANTELLI hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw in 2023, depositing the dented softball to deep left field. DEVON DOHANOS kept the House party rocking with a home run high into the trees in right field. It would have been a second-deck homer if Mother of Sorrows Field had two tiers of seating. But the bomb of the night belonged to ALEC LYDON, whose towering drive to left may have bounced off Muscle Bay Fitness a mile-and-a-half away. Lord!
Joe’s Bar had its moments, too. PATRICK BOVA tripled over the head of House left-centerfielder CANTELLI in the fourth, causing CANTELLI to turn his back completely to home plate in an effort to catch BOVA’s blast to the fence. And defensively, Joe’s Bar had several gems, especially third baseman HAYDEN OLEEN’s lightning pick-and-toss to prevent an infield single for House.
When the dust settled, House won it, 26-4. House pitcher MASON HART won his first game of the year, and despite the score, BRIAN WOODRUFF did an admirable job slingin’ it for Joe’s.
MONDAY, JUNE 5TH
Excuse me! You seem confused. You think this night belongs to you? No, sir! It belongs to one man: JIMMY OLSEN, JR.!
Despite the comic-book name (go ahead, Google “Jimmy Olsen” and read all the Superman files…), this JIMMY OLSEN can flat-out pick it. He made the best defensive play in recent Mother of Sorrows memory in Mojito Bay’s lopsided 34-8 loss to powerful House in the night’s second game.
In the third inning, QUINTIN “Q” CANTELLI sent a blast to the left-centerfield alley. OLSEN’s sliding, twisting, sprawling catch recorded the second out, and brought fans and fellow players to their feet. If 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Ashton Poupos says you’re the man, believe me, YOU’RE THE MAN!
Otherwise, it was all House in the nightcap. CANTELLI homered twice, and winning pitcher MASON HART did too, but only one counted (3-homer rule and all…). Whoever fed House the steroids, stop!
In the opener, Boardwalk debuted its season in convincing fashion, beating Topsy Turvey’s, 18-1. Boardwalk, which played in 2022’s championship series, picked up where it left off, combining pinpoint pitching (BILLY MARKET and JOHN “MURPH” MURPHY) with effortless hitting to take command throughout.
Topsy Turvey’s flashed good defense, though. Shortstop LOGAN KUCZKOWSKI and pitcher JUSTICE ANDRES each caught smash line drives on successive batters in the third inning, and catcher DIONTE CANNONE caught a foul pop behind the plate to end the inning.
But only one name carried this night. You can still hear fans chanting: JIM-MY, JIM-MY, JIM-MY!
[Column Intermission #1: It’s been decades since my hard-partyin’ ways of the 1980s, so I’m not certain if I can trust all my senses yet…but…DID SOMEBODY BRING A COW to the Boardwalk/Topsy game on June 5th? Did I really see that, or was it 1984 all over again? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you saw it, too. What the?]
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7TH
Middle Bass Island is a pleasant enough place. Nice people. Good pizza. Oh yeah, and some DAMN LOUD SOFTBALL FANS, TOO!
And why not? The Middle Bass Dockers can hit all night long, like they did in a 26-6 mugging of Crew’s Nest.
TYLER MCKENZIE is now the proud owner of one of this season’s longest home runs, which crashed into the trees in deep right-center field in the second inning. When shortstop HAYDEN OLEEN, perhaps the fastest baserunner in the league, tripled to start the game, the Middle Bass track meet was on, with Dockers running hither and thither, scoring at will.
All of this was much to the delight of Middle Bass’ bellicose fans, who seem to have more fun per capita than anybody. Veteran Middle Bass pitcher ART WOLF was in command throughout, earning his first victory of the year.
SUNDAY, JUNE 11TH AND MONDAY, JUNE 12TH
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14TH
Happy Flag Day, everyone! Display your colors proudly, and groove on some classic Put-In-Bay softball while you’re at it!
But wait, a visitor has joined us, all the way from Middle Bass Island, home of the Dockers, the team with the LOUDEST SUPPORT SYSTEM IN THE LEAGUE!
Yes, Middle Bass fans had much to cheer about, because ART WOLF was pitching, and that means the Dockers would be in the thick of it. And slingin’ it for Boardwalk was JOHN “MURPH” MURPHY, which means two of the league’s best pitchers were facing off.
A good game ensued (no surprise), and Boardwalk won it, 15-10.
Middle Bass left the bases loaded in the first inning but couldn’t score, which they would sorely regret later. After three innings, Middle Bass led, 4-3. But Boardwalk scored seven in the fourth to take a 10-4 lead. PADDY MURPHY hit a two-run homer to left in the fifth, bringing Boardwalk to a comfortable 13-4 lead, and despite Middle Bass’ four-run rally in the sixth, Boardwalk stayed in command, and “MURPH” won his second game of the year.
In the second game, much pain and suffering was heaped upon Topsy Turvey’s by Blue Marlin, which won, 48-1.
Yes, the Mother of Sorrows scoreboard ran out of numbers due to Blue Marlin’s massive offensive output. JACK ALEXANDER homered in the third, and BRYCETYN HEDDEN followed suit in the fourth to help Blue Marlin cruise.
But Topsy’s had its moments on defense. ELENA SCHROEDER caught a line-drive smash at third base, and ELIZABETH “BEAZ” FAZEKAS ran down two deep fly balls to right-center field to prevent further Blue Marlin damage.
All in all, it was Blue Marlin’s night on a red, white and blue Wednesday on the Bay. Thank you, God, for allowing all of us to live in America!
[Column Intermission #2: Somebody should open a driving school on P-I-B. Some crazy cat got all red-faced when he drove his golf cart into a road sign along Concord Avenue behind the north bleachers at Mother of Sorrows Field during the Blue Marlin-Topsy game. Got a huge round of applause from the fans. What an onion-head!]
SUNDAY, JUNE 18TH
On a cool, sparkling evening, the lads and lasses from Joe’s Bar and Mojito Bay staged one of the year’s best games. And with Mojito Bay fan RACHEL BARRY providing bullhorn-like commentary from the stands (along with police-siren sound effects), chaos ruled the night.
Joe’s Bar took an early 3-0 lead, and expanded it to 4-1 after two innings. But Mojito packed the scoreboard with six runs in the bottom of the third to take a 7-6 lead. KURT BETHARD’s homer was the key hit for Mojito, which sported its new mint-green jerseys for the occasion.
The game knotted at 7-7 and 9-9 over the fourth and fifth innings as both teams dug in. TYLER WEBB homered deep to left field in the fifth to draw Mojito even, but the long balls weren’t done flying.
TYLER KRAMP, on loan from Blue Marlin, homered for Joe’s Bar to start the sixth and give Joe’s an 11-9 lead. But it was short-lived. Mojito scored eight runs in the bottom of the sixth to put the game away, and won it, 17-13. CARL KRUEGER won his first game of the year for Mojito, while KRAMP took the loss for Joe’s. In a battle of two popular island bars, the bar with the sand won it (sorry, Rachel, I had to steal your joke).
MONDAY, JUNE 19TH
Is it true what they say? That the road to the 2023 playoffs rolls through Boardwalk? The Lobster-Heads have been in the championship series for 4 consecutive years, winning it three times. But have the winds of change begun to blow?
Too early to tell, and on this night Boardwalk looked just fine, rolling to a 21-3 victory over Crew’s Nest. Pitching veteran JOHN “MURPH” MURPHY glided along on a three-strikeout performance, and all looked right in Boardwalk World.
And Crew’s Nest, while looking for offense, seemed just fine on defense. Outstanding plays by SOPHIA PRESSLER, SETH TAYLOR and EMANUEL CARMONA kept things hopping.
Shortstop TAYLOR’s back-to-the-plate running catch in shallow left field brought whistles and hoots from the fans, and left-fielder CARMONA threw a perfect strike to the plate to prevent a run.
And yet it was Boardwalk notching another victory, with stormy waters ahead. TYLER KING took the loss for Crew’s Nest.
In the second game, always-dangerous House defeated Topsy Turvey’s, 19-6. KEVIN BAUMAN pitched his first game of the year for House, facing cool-cat JUSTICE ANDRES from Topsy, rocking his “Ray-Bans and Headbands” look.
House built an 8-0 in the first inning, batting around about a fluidly as a playoff-bound team can. And Topsy kept the night’s theme of strong glovework going, with BILL SWEENEY snagging a hard smash off the bat of House’s ANDY BURNS. Also, Topsy shortstop TOBY CUMMISKEY recorded the final out of the sixth inning with a sliding catch. Well done, amigos!
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21ST
All the science brainiacs tell us that the summer solstice is the day when the sun’s path in the sky is furthest north in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the beginning of summer in our part of the world.
So no matter how fast the world spins and time passes, and no matter how fast our lives unfold and change, we are bound by the natural world. The sun rises and sets each day, and seasons change, and no matter how many softball games we win, the natural world’s pull is always upon us. So let’s just keep softball in perspective, shall we?
That said, Mojito Bay battled Topsy Turvey’s and secured a 25-7 victory in the first game of the evening. BRYDEN ALLEN hit an inside-the-park home run for Mojito in the second inning, when Mojito broke the game wide open and led, 20-0. CARL KRUEGER won his third game of the season for Mojito, notching three strikeouts.
In the second game, two powerhouses squared off for the first time this season. House met Blue Marlin, and each team entered the game undefeated.
House opened the scoring in the first inning, when QUINTIN “Q” CANTELLI sent the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence for a 2-0 House lead. After expanding its lead to 3-0 in the second, House watched Blue Marlin score nine times in the bottom of the second, sending 12 men to the plate and taking a 9-3 lead.
Stellar defense kept the scoring relatively low. Blue Marlin’s right-centerfielder DALTON HAY made a diving catch of a fly ball to end the first, and DYLAN DOHANOS ended Blue Marlin’s threat in the first with an over-the-shoulder catch in shallow left field.
By the time Blue Marlin’s TRISTON SNEZEK pounded a two-run homer in the fourth, the game was well in hand for the guys in the neon-orange jerseys. TYLER KRAMP won his league-leading fourth game of the season, recording two two-out strikeouts to end House threats, and Blue Marlin won it, 17-6.
NOTE: In a game played on Middle Bass Island, the Dockers lost to Joe’s Bar, 25-11.
STANDINGS (Through completion of play on June 21st)
BLUE MARLIN 4-0
MOJITO BAY 3-2
JOE’S BAR 2-2
MIDDLE BASS 1-2
CREW’S NEST 0-3
TOPSY TURVEY’S 0-4
KELLEYS ISLAND 0-0
LEISL is in-action every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday evening throughout the summer at Mother of Sorrows Field. For a full schedule of LEISL play, visit Lake Erie Islands’ Softball League’s Facebook page.
Author bio: Matt Amsden is home-plate umpire for LEISL games, which he provides as a community service. He was voted by his high school classmates as “Most Likely To Become Broken-Down Umpire for Incredibly Talented Softball League.”
Putinbay.com is proud to present this Put-in-Bay Gazette article from the July 2023 issue.
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