After taking a year off to see if they would enjoy “life without softball” the Corner Cafe re-entered the North End Softball League in 2014. The Corner had been the dominant team starting in 1996 and had taken 12 of 16 championships including a stretch of 9 in a row from 1999-2007. However time had begun to catch up to this proud squad and the team decided to retire after the 2012 season. One year away was more than they could stand and in 2014 the Corner Cafe, with an average age of 48, took to the field again.
With lots of tape and ice packs the Corner put together a solid regular season finishing 8-2 and earning the two seed for the playoffs. After dispatching Bricco 2 games to 0 the Corner met up with their a version of themselves from the 90’s when they took on the Cobblestone Cafe in the finals. Cobblestone boasts a team of young, talented players with no one other than their two pitchers being over 25 years old.
Many players on the Corner had played against the father’s of this talented Cobblestone team back in the 90’s. The series set up as a classic and it did not disappoint.
Game 1 Cobblestone came out swinging. With a combination of a disciplined eye at the plate and some fierce swings Cobblestone struck for 7 runs in the top of the first inning. The Corner and in particular Hall-Of-Fame pitcher Steve Passatempo, were shocked at the onslaught. Key hits from Joe Valarese, Rob Gomez, Kenny Lanza and Michael Lopriore put the early hurt on the Corner. When the Corner came to bat in the bottom of the first it was 7-0 Cobblestone. Less seasoned teams would have buckled but the Corner answered right back with 5 runs of their own. Ricky Bev, Mike Mart, Vince DeNictolis and series MVP Anthony Coppola came out swinging. When the dust had settled it was 7-5 Cobblestone end of one. In the top of the 2nd Cobblestone scored three more runs. Jonathan Costa had a remarkable series constantly coming up with big hits to drive in runs for Cobblestone. Also veteran Dennis LaColla continued to smoke the ball in every at bat. When the Corner came to bat in the bottom of the 2nd it was 10-5 Cobblestone. Once again the Corner answered. Led by Michael Murphy, Dom DiCenso and Stephen LaBella the Corner answered with 5 runs of their own. After two the score was 10-10. From there the game settled down. With the Corner leading 13-12 in the 5th they blew it open and final of game one would be 19-13 Corner Cafe.
Game 2 was very different. Both Steve Passatempo and Simple Jack turned up the heat and the game was scoreless heading to the third. After a single from Ricky Bev, Vince DeNictolis double him to third. Anthony Coppola then lifted a sac fly and the Corner was up 1-0. Cobblestone came right back and tied it in the bottom of the third. The game then went 1-1 into the 4th. With Steve Siciliano on first and one out Michael Murphy drilled a ball into the rightcenter field gap. The ball rolled all the way to the batting cage and Murphy chugged around the bases for a two run homer giving the Corner a 3-1 lead. That lead however, was short lived. With one on in the bottom of the inning Joe Valarese came to the plate and was sitting on a first pitch fastball. When Passatempo obliged, Valarese did not miss it and launched it long and deep into the night landing in the ocean for a two run homer and tying the game at 3. Cobblestone and their fans exploded. The Corner avoided any further damage and came to bat in the top of the 5th in a tie game. With two on up to the plate stepped the red-hot Anthony Coppola. Coppola had just made his first out of the series in his previous at bat and Simple Jack was starting to feel better about his chances when facing Anthony. That feeling was quickly removed when Coppola hit the first pitch he saw deep, deep into the ocean. The no-doubter gave the Corner a 6-3 lead and had them ready to celebrate. However, Cobbblestone once again showed the hearts of champions as they got off the mat to rally for 3 runs and tie the game at six. Dave Gomez, Packy Lyons and Mike Wyatt had huge hits.
With two innings left the game was all tied up again. The Corner took the lead with one in the 6th. When Cobblestone failed to answer in the bottom of the inning the Corner knew it was time. They went to work in the 7th with a series of big hits as Murphy, Dicenso and O’Connor had consecutive rips and the Corner lead 10-6 with Cobblestone down to their last three outs. With one on and one out Dave Gomez ripped a line drive right at the head of Corner pitcher Steve Passatempo. Passatempo snared the liner and doubled the runner off first base and the Corner Cafe were champs for the 13th time in 17 years.
Player/Coach Ralph Martignetti commented, “Cobblestone was a great team and pushed us to our absolute limits. But in the end the veteran experience and clutch hitting was enough to put us over the top. This championship is as sweet as any of them.”