Highlight-reel defensive plays became routine late in the season for Caddyswag Radio, the Monday Doubleheader Men’s Rec Softball League regular-season and playoff champion.

Joe Cocozzello

Joe Cocozzello is safe at second with a double in the Edina Monday Softball playoff championship game at Van Valkenburg Park. (Sun Staff Photo by John Sherman)

Left fielder Phil Boerger leads the defensive effort, making plays worthy of Sports Center just about every game. His fearless style is appreciated by teammates and fans alike.

“I would rather rob somebody of a hit than get a hit,” Boerger said after Caddyswag finished a 21-2 season by beating the Edina Realty Plungers 14-5 in the playoff championship game Aug. 5 at Van Valkenburg Park. The score of that game was 4-4 after three innings before Caddyswag went on a hitting spree.

Boerger’s robberies began in the first game of the evening against Kekambas when he made a spectacular diving catch in foul territory in the first inning. Later in the game, he made another long run into foul territory to track down a ball near the fence. Kekambas succumbed 13-1.

In the second game against the hard-hitting Plungers, Boerger crashed into the left-field wall for a leaping catch that one fan described as “a case of highway robbery.”

Boerger wasn’t the only Caddyswag player to come up big defensively. Pitcher Patrick McGovern made two quick-handed plays to stop potential Plungers’ hits, and the infield play was nearly flawless with Ben Fossey at first, Jason “Turbo” Sirek at second, Scotty Bantz at shortstop and Matt Alford at third.

“Pat McGovern loves championship games,” said Fossey, the team captain and creator of Caddyswag Radio. “We had lost to the Plungers earlier this season, so they were in our cross hairs tonight.”

Two-run homers joined defense as the other main theme in the championship game. Bantz hit one in the bottom of the fourth that traveled 360 feet, and then Charlie Chapman hit a 350-foot two-run homer the same inning. In the bottom of the fifth, it was Matt Alford’s turn to go yard for two runs. Luck was on his side, as the ball hit the top of the center field fence before bouncing over. Officially, Matt was credited with a 301-foot homer. Even after Caddyswag reached the home run limit of three, there were more long balls. Bantz hit an inside-the-park homer in the fifth, with Taylor Nelson scoring ahead of him.

Semifinal Games

Leading up to the championship game, Caddyswag played long ball with three three-run homers against Kekambas.

Sirek hit the first of those homers, and was followed by Matt Alford and Bill Bausman.

Everyone contributed at least one hit for Caddyswag. Catcher Joe Cocozzello apparently got tired of watching Boerger dive in the outfield and made a dive of his own into second base for a double. Derek Alford was blazing on the bases, as well, scoring three runs.

McGovern’s pitching prowess was on display, as he changed spins, distance and delivery.

The Plungers’ road to the finals wasn’t easy by any means, as they held off The Hilltop Restaurant 17-16.

The Hilltop scored the final six runs of the contest and had the tying run on third and the winning run at first when a line-out to right field ended the game. Hits in the last inning for The Hilltop were doubles by Brent Molitor and Jake Krey and singles by Jack Tornquist and Jared Gangelhoff. It was Gangelhoff’s single to right that closed the Plungers’ lead to a single run.

Cam McCambridge led the Plungers in that game with his hitting and pitching. J.D. Donnay provided the victory margin with a key hit in the fifth inning.

Caddyswag’s Fossey said his team was very determined to win the title after barely missing out in 2018.

“We came out here an hour early to take batting practice,” he said. “Coming into the championship game, we had only given up one run in our first two playoff games. The key to the championship was defense, defense, defense. All season, each of us has played for the guy next to us. We have a core energy you can’t mess with.”

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