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The Around Town Team Overcomes Resilient My Place In Men’s Softball Championship



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With their backs against the wall and in need of three wins in one day, members of the My Place team put forth a valiant effort in the Newtown Men’s Sunday Softball League upper division playoffs at Dickinson Park on September 8. In the end, The Around Town Team prevailed by overcoming quite a day for My Place and winning 8-6 in the decisive game.

The top-seeded group representing The Around Town Team got two home runs from Donny Wright and a tie-breaking sacrifice fly off the bat of A.J. Johnson en route to earning the title.

Second-seeded My Place had to defeat fourth-seeded IBPO in the morning and rode an improbable ten-run rally in the bottom of the seventh and final inning to walk off with an 18-17 win and advance to the championship round. Once there, My Place was tasked with beating The Around Town Team twice and took care of business with a 13-1 mercy-rule, five-inning triumph to force the winner-take-all battle.

What a contest the decisive game was. The score was 6-6 in the final inning, and Johnson’s sac fly to deep right field made the score 7-6. The Around Town team tacked on an insurance run on Larry Pignatello’s RBI single, and pitcher Howie Ziperstein made the lead stand up with a perfect bottom of the seventh.

“To have to come back and compete in the second game was challenging. They’re a good-hitting team,” Ziperstein said of My Place.

“It’s always good to play softball on Sundays, especially at my age,” the 52-year-old Ziperstein added.

In the deciding game, My Place jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, highlighted by a double by Colton Smith off a tree branch that extended over the outfield wall. Wright pulled a homer down the left field line to help bring The Around Town Team to within 4-3 and homered again to even the score at four apiece in the third inning.

A two-run single by Jim Parker gave My Place a 6-4 lead in the top of the fourth. The Around Town Team got to within a run in the bottom of the fourth, but My Place catcher Carl Abrahamson got to the ball following an errant throw and nabbed a base runner attempting to advance to third. That saved a run as the next batter reached on a hit.

Another standout defensive play came in the bottom of the sixth when My Place shortstop Steve Vichiola dove to snare a hard grounder before getting to his feet and stepping on second for the force out.

In the comeback stunner against IBPO, Smith hit a three-run homer to tie the score, and Vichiola drove in the winning run with a single. Michael Parker had a two-run homer during that big inning.

Smith delivered a two-run double and Vichiola had a key triple as My Place jumped ahead early in the first game against The Around Town Team.

The My Place team has a notable youth football connection. Team member Pat Smith coached in town for several years, including the 2006 national champion fourth graders and a 2010 national runner-up squad. Among his team members are now softball teammates, son Colton, along with Troy Frangione, Nicholas Lotrecciano, and Jaret DeVellis.

“Nothing was more satisfying than coaching the players back in youth football. They were hard workers, disciplined, and had high Football IQs, and they loved the sport and the competition. Playing softball with the players I used to coach is a lot of fun. ... I used to joke with them to play football as long as you can because once you are done, we will all be playing softball together in the Newtown Sunday men’s league,” Pat Smith said.

Members of The Around Town Team celebrate winning the Newtown Men’s Softball League upper division championship at Dickinson Park on September 8. Pictured are, from left, front: Jeremy Graves, Donny Wright, Charlie Coates, Larry Pignatello, and Aaron Johnson; and back: Pat Hendricks, Josh McSherry, Kris Schirmer, Brian Slattery, Howie Ziperstein, and Michael Lancaster. Not pictured: Andrew Walker, Michael Douskey, James Taylor, Terrance Joyner, and Nick Macaluso. (Bee Photos, Hutchison)
Runner-up My Place includes, from left, front: Steve Vichiola, Jaret DeVellis, Nick Lotrecchiano, Troy Frangione, and Eric Harvey; and back: Colton Smith, Mike Parker, Jim Parker, Carl Abrahamson, and Pat Smith
Outfielder Donny Wright throws the back back in.
Howie Ziperstein delivers a pitch.
Larry Pignatello gets the ball back to the infield.
My Place outfielder Colton Smith fields the ball.
Pat Smith throws a pitch.
Pat Smith stands with softball teammates and former football players from the team he coached more than a decade ago. Pictured are, from left: Pat Smith, Troy Frangione Nick Lotrecchiano, Colton Smith, and Jaret DeVellis. (Bee Photos, Hutchison)
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