Seventh inning rally propels Key's Chicks 'n' Sticks to Coed Charity Challenge Championship
Special to MilleniumSoftball.com by Anthony J. SanFilippo
UPPER CHICHESTER - Going into the final inning of the final game of the inaugural Coed Charity Challenge Tournament, Mike Moritz had already experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows on a softball field.
So, when he came to bat in the middle of what would be a spirited come-from-behind rally in the seventh inning that would lift his Key's Chicks 'n' Sticks team to another tournament victory, there was no pressure.
He didn't get the big hit that would eventually win the game. He didn't crush a three-run homer like he did two innings earlier, which at the time seemingly turned the tide in favor of his team, nor did he drive in the tying or go-ahead run.
Yet, his at bat was likely the most critical of the game.
That's because Moritz, despite hitting the lone home run in a see-saw 16-15 victory over Big Bad Wolf Barbeque, also made a crucial error in the bottom of the sixth that led to four unearned runs and put Big Bad Wolf ahead by four going into that final inning.
Playing second base, Moritz dropped a simple flip from shortstop Joe Duffy that very likely would have led to an inning-ending double play and maintained a one-run lead for Key's.
But his gaffe sparked a five-run rally for Big Bad Wolf, leaving Key's three outs from an unexpected defeat in the final.
But Moritz redeemed himself with a one-out single in that key spot in the seventh inning, which simply kept the line moving.
Brooke Lachette would follow Moritz with an RBI single that tied the game. But it was Moritz that made another unheralded, but incredibly important play on this hit - making it from first to third on a shallow single.
This set up Duffy to hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring Moritz for the go-ahead run.
If Moritz stopped at second on Lachette's hit, he wouldn't have scored on Duffy's fly out and potentially, the game remains tied.
It was evidence of someone who was able to quickly put an error behind him and not dwell on it to the detriment of his team, but rather use it to fuel his own personal redemption as well as his team's comeback to win a championship.
It was a tournament sweep for Key's, which also won the Champs 'n' Charity coed title a mere five days prior.
Although Key's was the favorite coming in to win the tournament, they faced a stiff challenge from Big Bad Wolf, one that didn't seem likely after Key's shut them out 6-0 when the teams met earlier Saturday during pool play.
However, Big Bad Wolf declared in the first inning of the championship game that this was going to be a much more competitive contest, plating four runs right out of the chute.
Big Bad Wolf seemed to finally figure out how to hit Key's pitcher Bob "Cheekers" Dinella, who had only allowed eight runs in four games prior to the final.
Think about that for a minute. Eight runs in four slow pitch softball games. It's no wonder Dinella was named the tournament MVP, despite giving up 15 runs in the final game.
However, six of those 15 runs were unearned, and Dinella was able to pitch a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to lock down the win. It was the only 1-2-3 inning of the final game.
As is usually the case in these true coed games, it was the ladies who carried the offenses.
Lindsay Snajkowski reached base safely in each of her four plate appearances, had a key double and two RBIs playing an important part of three big innings for Big Bad Wolf in defeat.
Meanwhile, for the winners, Lachette drove in the tying run and Karen Pelky and Alyssa Masciarelli each had two hits.
While Key's showed the heart of a champion, able to deal with adversity for the first time in the entire tournament - pulling out the win in the final inning of the only game they trailed in the event, finishing 5-0 - Big Bad Wolf made a dramatic run to come so close, before falling just one run short.
After being shutout by Key's during pool play, Big Bad Wolf knocked off Leviere's Fitness 17-8 to qualify for the semifinals and then pulled off a come-from-behind, 14-12 upset win over the Gamecocks in the semifinals.
The Gamecocks were 3-0 headed into that game and had outscored their opposition 56-13 in pool play.
They were the highest scoring team and had the biggest run differential of any team headed into the semifinal, but Big Bad Wolf overcame a five-run deficit to stun the Gamecocks, led by their emotional captain and pitcher Rich Cropper.
Cropper, Snajkowski, Dawn McGrath and the husband and wife duo of Adam and Maria Dragish paced the offense in the championship, leading to their 15 runs, but were left feeling the sting of coming up just short.
Key's reached the final in a simpler manner riding Dinella's pitching and solid defense to the championship game, knocking off Kelly's Corner 9-1 in the other semifinal.