South Range’s bats blaze to Over 50 softball crown

TAPIOLA- Building any kind of momentum was tough this season in the Over 50 Softball League.

“We were rained out seven of our 12 regular season games,” South Range manager Joe Rossi said after his team’s 25-15 win over Houghton Thursday in the playoff title game. “You can’t get anything going … playing every third week or so.”

But the Range boys put it together in the later innings Thursday night to move away to their first playoff crown in three years.

A nine-run fifth frame erased a 13-11 deficit as Stan Murtomaki and Ed Hartel had big hits in the inning.

Murtomaki laced a two-run single, while Hartel had a two-run triple.

Winning pitcher Dave Kaiponen put the icing in the cake in the final inning with a three-run homer.

“We weren’t able to keep pace with them,” Houghton manager Tom Merz said. “They started hitting later in the game and it just got out of hand.”

Houghton, which ousted regular season champ Tapiola on Monday, used a six-run third inning to seize a 9-7 lead after three innings.

Murtomaki paced the winners with four hits, while Joe Geborkoff, Dick Franti, Dave Fehringer, Hartel and Rossi all chipped in three safeties.

Kaiponen batted in four runs with his homer and a sacrifice fly.

“Our older guys on the team had good games, that was nice to see,” Rossi said. “They kind of picked up the younger guys in this game.”

Dave Usitalo led the Houghton offense with three raps. Losing chucker Steve Dunstan added two hits along with “Wolfie” Carlson, Dave Hoffman, Tom LeGault and Jim Perrin.