As far as second-year men’s softball teams go, Suffolk Cement is rather extraordinary. Last year the team finished in third place in the Riverhead Men’s Softball League. On Monday night Suffolk Cement concluded its regular season in second place. The team’s catcher, Joe Roth, was somewhat surprised. “I expected us to get first,” he said.
Well, there’s always next year.
Of course, there’s still a little more business to attend to. Suffolk Cement will enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the double-elimination postseason tournament behind No. 1 Revco Electrical. Kurt Maas and Keith Zambzryski both went 5 for 5 for Suffolk Cement in the first game of a doubleheader on Monday night, an 18-16 defeat of the En4cers. That secured second place for the club. Then Suffolk Cement went on to hold off the T-Shirt Guys, 17-15, to sweep the twinbill on a windy, rainy night at Stotzky Memorial Park.
“I know we can beat any team we face, as long as we show up to play ball,” said Roth, who at 40 is the oldest player on the 20-4 team. “Throughout the whole lineup, we just bunch hits together … Everybody in the lineup is a hitter.”
For example, Suffolk Cement had a player of Ken Liebert’s quality batting seventh in the order. That’s bound to raise some eyebrows.
But the results speak for themselves. Two of Suffolk Cement’s losses have come to Revco Electrical. The other two were a one-run loss to the En4cers and a two-run defeat to Wedel Signs.
A big reason for that fine record is offensive production. Suffolk Cement knows how to put runs on the scoreboard. It entered Monday’s games with the highest scoring output in the league. Over the course of the regular season, Suffolk Cement outscored opponents by the not inconsiderable sum of 453-175.
“I expected nothing but good things from this team,” Maas, the first baseman, said. “The team is unbelievable.”
Maas said part of the secret is being smart, and not always trying to swing for home runs. “We all can do it, we know that, but we’re going for base hits,” he said.
Suffolk Cement faced a commendable effort from the T-Shirt Guys (4-17), who twice took leads early in the game and then tied the score at 8-8 in the top of the fourth inning.
But Suffolk Cement has proven to be a difficult team to keep down. It totaled 18 hits for the game and scored in all six innings in which it batted.
The T-Shirt Guys did make things interesting, though. Trailing by 17-12 after six innings, the T-Shirt Guys opened the seventh with walks by Ken Block and Chris Tucci as well as a single by Dan Dunne to load the bases. They all scored on the same play, a throwing error. But Suffolk Cement managed to salvage the win, nonetheless.
Casey Klossner drove in three runs for Suffolk Cement while Roth and Tommy Griffin added two RBI each. Maas, Matt Colitti, Klossner, Liebert, Tyrone Ligon, Mike Rogers and Roth had two hits apiece.
Dunne had a tremendous game for the T-Shirt Guys, going 5 for 5 with three RBI. All five of his hits were singles. Another three-RBI performance was turned in by teammate John Hartill. Jerry Halpin went 3 for 3 with a double and two RBI.
Another explanation for Suffolk Cement’s success can be found in smiling faces. Maas said that is an important ingredient for any team.
“They have a good time, they have fun, they play together,” he said of his teammates. “No matter what, they pick each other up. If you don’t have fun, you’re going to be arguing, and that causes too many problems.”
For the most part, the only problems Suffolk Cement has been dealing with are the ones it causes for other teams. “I think we got a good team, a good group of guys,” Liebert said. “We all play hard and we’re ready for the playoffs.”
That could have been expected.