Italians’ big 9th pulls out 19-18 Wop-Swede win

That red, white and green flag flew proudly July 7 at Runkle Lake Park after the Italians scored five runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to pull out a 19-18 victory in the annual Wop-Swede softball game. Front row, from left: Tom Lesandrini, David Lesandrini, Tony Santilli, Kenedy Santilli, Bill Santilli, Nick Baumgartner and Al Tirapelli.  Back row: Bryan LaChapelle Sr., Darrin Kudwa, Bryan LaChapelle Jr., Brian Fabbri, Raymond Tomasik, Mark Flood and Matt Kingman. (submitted photo)

CRYSTAL FALLS—In a back-and-forth contest with no less than five lead changes, the Italians scored five runs in the bottom of the 9th inning July 8 to win the annual Wop-Swede softball game 19-18 at Runkle Lake Park.
    The Italians only got their win after the Swedes scored six in the top of the 9th to seize an 18-14 lead. The teams combined for 11 runs in the final frame.
    Italians’ manager Bill Santilli said it was the closest Wop-Swede game since 2013, when the teams battled for 12 innings before the Italians earned a 13-11 win.
    In 2017, the Swedes claimed all the honors with a 20-8 victory.
    In this year’s battle, winning pitcher Bryan LaChapelle Sr. and losing hurler Chad Martin both pitched the entire game. They combined to serve up seven runs in the first inning, which ended with the Italians ahead 4-3.  
    Double plays short-circuited potential big innings in the 2nd and 3rd, and the Italians took a 6-4 lead into the 4th. But the Swedes got the big hits, plating five for a 9-6 lead. Highlights were Martin’s double and Dan Surface’s triple.
    The Italians scored one in the 4th and two in the 5th to tie it at 9-9, but the Swedes edged ahead 10-9 in the 6th on Paige Armstrong’s sacrifice fly.
    It stayed that way until the last of the 7th, when the Italians scored three, with Bryan LaChapelle Sr. and Jr. both hitting doubles, for a 12-10 Italian lead.
    The Swedes scored twice with two out in the top of the 8th to tie it at 12, as Jack Roydes hit a solo homer and Armstrong later clouted a triple.
    It wasn’t tied for long: The Italians came back with two in the last of the 8th for a 14-12 lead, with “Little Bry” (LaChapelle Jr.) hitting a double.
    The Swedish lumber went to work in the 9th, with hit after hit after hit—seven singles and John Hinds’ double—driving in six runs. That put the Blue and Gold ahead 18-14, needing just three outs to secure the win.
    The Swedes got the first two outs right away, but they never got the third: Singles by David Lesandrini, LaChapelle Sr. and Matt Kingman, a double by Raymond Tomasik, a walk and a fielding error put Tony Santilli on base, and he dashed home with the winning run when Nick Baumgartner clouted a long fly to the base of the fence.
    The usual slugfest only saw two home runs (LaChapelle Jr. for the Italians, Roydes for the Swedes), but that doesn’t mean the hitters weren’t creaming laser beams all over the lot.
    The Italian hitting leaders were LaChapelle Jr. (four hits, including his homer and three doubles), LaChapelle Sr. (four hits with a double) and Mark Flood (four hits). Tomasik got three hits (with a double). Getting two hits each were Tony Santilli, Brian Fabbri (double), David Lesandrini (double), Tom Lesandrini, Kingman and Baumgartner (two doubles).
    LaChapelle Sr. and Santilli both scored three times, and LaChapelle Jr., Flood, David Lesandrini and Kingman all scored twice.
    The Swedes’ top hitter was Armstrong, who finished with five hits, including two doubles, and Seth Chernach, with four hits. Several Swedes finished with three hits: Surface (double and triple), Roydes (home run), Martin (two doubles) and Tim Anderson. Getting two hits each were John Carlson and Hinds (double).
    Seth Chernach and Surface both scored three times for the Swedes. Roydes, Martin and Jeff Chernach each scored twice.
Swedes        315    501        026—18
Italians        420    120        325—19