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Week 1: BASEBALL'S BACK! Topes, Plugs, and Phils Earn Opening Day Victories


Phillies' Stephen Malachite stretches for the out Thursday night at Mitchell Field



Isotopes 9

Wonders 7

WP: Dave Warner

LP: Chris Ciepiela


Dave Warner, the Isotopes' catcher, made a strategic move by switching to pitcher and delivered a strong performance, tossing six innings to lead his team to victory over the Wonders on Wednesday at Mitchell Field in Holyoke. Despite both teams being short-handed and showing signs of rustiness, they put up a spirited fight on opening day.


Jonathan Zajac, Michael Arbour, and Scott Dunaisky powered the Isotopes' offense with timely doubles. Shawn Thompson, the lead-off batter for The Wonders, had a standout performance, going 3-3 at the plate with a double and two singles, scoring three runs and stealing three bases for his team.


A comical "Keystone Cops" moment occurred in short centerfield when Wonders' centerfielder Scott Taylor called off second baseman Shawn Thompson on a pop-up, resulting in the ball bouncing out of Scott's glove only for Shawn to make a quick catch with his bare hand a few feet away. The Wonders also executed some unconventional double plays to thwart Isotopes' rallies, while the sun posed challenges for both teams' first basemen at times.

Dave Warner went the distance for the Topes, picking up the win. Chris Ciepiela hurled 5 2/3 innings for The Wonders. Rick Stacy tossed 1 1/3rd innings in relief.



Game photos courtesy of Stu Clark



Grays 3

Plug Uglies 5

WP: Greg Elbaum

LP: Chris Bernacki


It was beautiful night at Herlihy Park for TNB+50's 10th Opening Day that featured a rematch of last year's championship game. The Grays, 2024's undefeated champions, faced off against the "Wait Til' Next Year" Plug Uglies in what might have been the league's swan song game at "The Herl", home since it's inaugural season.


Opening Day starting pitchers were Chris "Nacho" Bernacki for the Grays and Greg "G-Bomb" Elbaum for the Plug Uglies. The action started early as Dave Rist greeted the Uglies with a lead off base hit, stole second, and advanced to third on a fielder's choice. 2023 team MVP Tim "Zig" Sigda hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield that scored Rist and the Grays were up 1-0. The Uglies started off, well, ugly: they hit two consecutive ground balls to Bernacki, and quickly there were two away. Jeff Cabana was hit by a pitch and advanced to second when Jeff Whitehead reached on an error. Rob "Ecc" Eccleston whacked a single to score Cabana and the game was tied at one a piece.


G-Bomb and Nacho (not the name of an slapstick 80's cop show) both got out of the second inning unscathed. After retiring the Grays 1-2-3 in the top of the third, the Uglies got to work with Bill Evans reaching on a fielders choice and Elbaum helping his own cause with a single. Cabana knocked in Evans, then Jeff Whitehead smashed a double that scored two

more runs. After 3 innings it was Plug Uglies 4, Grays 1.


The Grays struck back in the top of the 4th with a gap single to right center field by Sigda. "Zig" was quickly knocked in by Jay "Supe" Sadowski, who hit a bomb in the exact same spot and legged out a triple. Supe then scored on a Tony Zager single. The inning ended on a line drive hit right at third baseman Jeff Cabana with the Herlihy sunset right in his line of vision, a play that was half self-defense and half great fielding. The Uglies went quietly in the bottom frame and after 4innings it was Plug Uglies 4, Grays 3.


Amazingly G-Bomb seemed to get better as the game went on. The Uglies hung on to a tenuous one run lead and faced the top of the Grays powerhouse order in the top of the 6th. The result? Two ground outs and an infield fly and the champs went down 1-2-3. In the bottom of the 6th Bill Evans reached on a single, stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on a Greg

Elbaum sacrifice. Bernacki yielded to the bullpen and Cabana walked. With runners on the corner, Jeff Whitehead hit a clutch single to drivein a much needed insurance run.


Elbaum took the mound for the top of the 7th, inducing two quick ground outs. A runner reached on an infield error, but then Steve Powers flew out to second to end the game. In a huge upset the Uglies defeated last year's undefeated champions 5-3, with G-Bomb going the distance in a masterful performance.


"It's like the last game at Tiger Stadium or Ebbets Field." said Plugs manager Chris "Chaka" Scanlon as the TNB players left Herlihy Field for perhaps the last time. "No, it's not like that at all," said a teammate. "but it's the end of an era."


Players of the Game: Jay Sadowski (1-3, 1 RBI, 3B), Jeff Whitehead (2-3, 3 RBI, 2B), Chris Bernacki (6 1/3 innings, 3K, 4 ER), Greg Elbaum (7 IP, 3 K, 5 H, 2 ER)



Game photos courtesy of Jeff Whitehead



Phillies 17

Fainting Goats 3

WP: Colin Hosley

LP: Eddie Esposito


Phillies 17 Fainting Goats 3 (6 innings)


Pitcher Colin Hosley was dominant on the mound, as the Phillies trounced the Goats on an exquisite opening day at Mitchell Field.


The Phils scored early and often, mounting a 15-0 lead after 3, while Hosley allowed only 2 hits and 3 unearned runs while fanning 5 and walking 1 in 5 innings. Micah Winston pitched a scoreless 6th in relief.


Jon Ross and Hosley each banged out 3 hits, and Micah Winston had 3 RBIs. The Phils 2 rookies made a great first impression: Sean St. Marie went 2-2 with a walk, 2 runs and 2 RBIs, and Steve Malachite saved multiple runs with 4 great plays at 1B.


The Goats trotted out 4 pitchers: Eddie Esposito, Tom Salvini, Pres Pieraccini and Tom Conway who were victimized by a number of errors behind them. Conway, Paul Iellamo, and Tony Maspo had the Goats’ 3 hits.



Game photos courtesy of Stu Clark

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