The Corner Café, for the eighteenth time in 22 years, took home the North End Men’s Softball Championship.
The Corner was the #1 seed in the playoffs after a 15-1-1 regular season. The team blends the talents of longtime stars like Steve “Donuts” Passatempo, Andrew Madden, Anthony Coppola, Vince DiNictolis, Mike Unwin and Michael Murphy with up and coming young talent from the likes of Michael Martignetti, Kevin O’Sullivan, Rick Martignetti, Nico Irano, Stevie Passatempo, Matt Murphy and Mark “Metro Saint” Contrado.
The Corner opened defense of their title by drawing longtime rival Cobblestone Café in the semi-finals. In game one, Cobblestone shocked the Corner with a 5-4 victory, pushing the Corner to the brink of elimination. The Corner responded by getting up off the mat and dusting away Cobblestone with back-to-back routs of 37-10 and 14-5. That put the Corner in the finals against the #2 seed Rocco’s Café.
Rocco’s arrived in the finals by slipping past Bricco two games to one. Rocco’s walked off in game one of their semifinals as Mark Fusco doubled home the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the seventh. In game two, Bricco held on for a one run victory setting up a rubber game. In the rubber game, Rocco’s jumped all over Bricco and cruised to a mercy rule victory. The reward for Rocco’s victory was a date with the big bad wolf – Corner Café.
Game one of the finals was an instant classic. Rocco’s, showing no signs of being intimidated by the Corner, attacked early and often. Heading into the sixth inning, Rocco’s found themselves leading 10-5 and the Corner was searching for answers.
The Corner climbed closer with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Heading into the last inning, Rocco’s was ahead 10-8. Passatempo held tough in the top of the seventh and, in the bottom of the seventh, the Corner loaded the bases with one out. A sacrifice fly by Nico Irano made the score 10-9, but now there were two out and runners on first and second. The Corner’s hopes were now on Sully and when he beat out an infield grounder, it was bases loaded for Corner Café catcher Sherm O’Shaunessey.
Sherm hit a grounder to short that took a tough hop and forced the shortstop to rush the throw to second base. When the throw sailed high, the Corner had scored two runs for the improbable 11-10 victory and a 1-0 game lead. Once a team like the Corner with championship pedigree smells blood, it’s usually a bad sign for the opponent. That was exactly the situation in game two. The Corner scored three in the first, two in the second, four in the third, six in the fourth and mercy ruled their way to championship #18 with a 15-3 victory.
Rocco’s was classy in defeat led by captain Danny Shields who had an outstanding season and led his team with top notch sportsmanship all year. Rick Martignetti, who went 13 for 18 with 7 doubles and 1 triple, was named playoff MVP.
The Corner Café brought home the trophy to longtime owners Maryann & Richie Longo. Fan support from Stacie Coviello, Emily Logan, Anna Palmarozzo, Janine Martignetti and Trinity Martignetti was much appreciated by the longtime champs.