The Italians had to battle 12 exciting innings in order to claim their second straight Wop-Swede victory by a 13-11 score during Bass Festival at Runkle Lake Park on July 6. Front row, from left: Tony Santilli, David Lesandrini, Tom Lesandrini, Herbie Nylund, Bryan LaChapelle Sr., Kyle LaVacque and manager Bill Santilli. Back row: Phil Robinson, Bryan LaChapelle Jr., Brian Fabbri, Troy Margoni, Christian Valesano and Andy Herro. (submitted photo)
CRYSTAL FALLS—The longest Wop-Swede softball game in memory ended with one swing of Christian Valesano’s bat.
His 12th inning home run also drove in Bryan LaChapelle Sr., who had just doubled, giving the Italians a 13-11 win at Runkle Lake Park on July 6 during Bass Festival weekend.
LaChapelle was the winning pitcher, going all 12 innings in the slowpitch rivalry. Ian Gill took the loss—he pitched the final nine innings for the Swedes after Drew Gussert pitched the first three.
“I can’t recall the last time this game has gone into extra innings,” said Wops Manager Bill Santilli. “It’s been many years.”
It may also be many years since the teams last combined for three consecutive scoreless innings. After the Italians tied the game 11-11 in the bottom of the 8th inning, neither team scored in the 9th, 10th or 11th.
In fact, the Swedes led 11-7 after six innings but were shut out after that—in slowpitch, mind you.
The teams agreed to limit the “arc” for pitchers to between 6 and 15 feet. They also allowed courtesy runners for all players 50 and over.
The Italians jumped out 4-0 in the 1st inning on Bryan LaChapelle’s three-run homer and Tom Lesandrini’s hit.
The Swedes scored twice in both the 2nd and 3rd, tying it 4-4. Hans Hoffman’s triple and Bob Reid’s two-run homer were the highlights—but the Italians went back up 5-4 on Andy Herro’s homer in the last of the third.
After the Swedes scored two in the top of the 4th, the Italians went back in front with two in the 5th, to go back in front 7-6.
The Swedes tried to take charge with a five-run 6th inning, marked by Gill’s solo homer and Brad Anderson’s two-run shot. Chad Martin and Hoffman also drove in runs, putting the Sons of Stockholm ahead 11-7.
In the 7th, the Italians struck back. Phil Robinson’s RBI double and Herb Nylund’s two-run triple cut the Swedes’ lead to 11-10. They tied it at 11-all in the 8th when LaChapelle dashed to third on a dropped fly ball and scored on Kyle LaVacque’s sacrifice fly.
Neither team broke the tie in the 9th, but the Italians really came close. Troy Margoni swatted a two-out single, and then David Lesandrini got a hit. Margoni tried to score, but Reid’s throw to Jeff Chernach shot him down at the plate.
According to Dave Graff, Reid’s relay from the outfield fence to home plate was one of the best outfield plays he has ever seen. It sent the game into extra innings for the first time in years.
Neither team got past second base in the 10th. In the 11th, the Swedes’ Hoffman singled with one out but was stranded at third. The Italians got their leadoff man on base, but Reid showed off his strong arm again, gunning him down on a fly ball double play.
In the 12th, the Swedes went down 1-2-3. In the bottom half, LaChapelle’s double and Valesano’s walk-off homer ended the long battle.
The Italians’ top hitters were Herro (3-5, double, home run), Valesano (2-3, home run), Robinson (2-4, double) and Lesandrini (2-4). The Swedes’ big boppers were Brad Anderson (4-4, double, home run), Hoffman (4-5, two triples), Gill and Reid (both 1-2, home run).
Top defense honors went to the Swedes’ Reid and Sholander in the outfield and Hoffman at third base. For the Italians, Lesandrini in the outfield, Tony Santilli at shortstop and LaVacque at third base.
Swedes 022-205-000-000 – 11
Italians 401-020-310-002 -- 13