What’s gotten into the 35 & Over softball players in Wednesday night action at Edina’s Van Valkenburg Park?
Inside-the-park home runs are the rage this summer, as the players look faster than ever coming back from two COVID-slowed seasons.
Two records were set in games played June 15.
Shortstop Lou Rohman, the 62-year-old shortstop for the Bruce Avenue All-Stars, is believed to be the oldest player in league history to record an inside-the-park homer. He hit a deep drive to right center field that bounced against the fence. When Rohman saw the outfielder reacting slowly, he picked up the pace. The ball had not been recovered by the time Rohman reached second base, so he figured, why stop at third? He took one last glance, put his head down and ran for the plate, beating the relay for the run.
Rohman’s hit was the highlight of the game even though the boys from Bruce Avenue lost a 17-7 decision to Mayhem.
In Bunny’s 27-2 victory over the Dogs of Corn, another record was set when two men from the same family hit inside-the-park homers in the same game. Dane Fricke, one of the youngest and swiftest players in the 35 & Over ranks, had one of the homers. Then his uncle Bryan joined in the fun with an inside-the-park homer of his own.
With 27 runs, the undefeated Bunny’s team obviously had some other big moments. For instance, winning pitcher Josh Ruble hit two home runs.
As the action moved toward sunset, contending teams from Metropolitan Ford and Federated Insurance played a high-scoring game. Metropolitan Ford took a nine-run lead, but Federated fired back with nine straight hits for eight runs in the bottom of the fifth. In the top of the sixth, the Mustangs scored four runs to take an 18-11 lead. The key hit was a towering, three-run homer by shortstop Mark Blozis.
Metropolitan Ford held Federated scoreless in the bottom of the sixth and the game ended on time limit with the 18-11 score.
Blozis said of his decisive home run: “I was just trying to make contact.”
This might have been the shortest home run of Blozis’ career. The fence at Van Valkenburg Field #1 is 300 feet all the way around. “That one might have gone 301,” Blozis said.
Player-coach Tim Wood, who has watched Blozis hit many bombs since 2019, the year the shortstop signed with the Mustangs.
“Mark hit one up in the light tower when we beat Bunny’s in the championship game in 2019,” said Wood, pointing to the top of the top of the tower in left center field. “Everyone on the team is hitting better than ever this year, but we have struggled in a lot of respects. We have had a few injuries and still don’t have our whole team on the field. Three guys who usually start were not able to play tonight.”
In addition to hitting a timely homer in the victory, Blozis had a web gem at shortstop. He jumped to snare a line drive in the webbing of his glove.
“You can catch those when you’re 6-4,” he said.
In other games last week, the Unified Fielders defeated C-Side 16-11, Davanni’s squashed Hats for Bats 28-8 and the Love Handles made quick work of the Boys of Summer in a 19-1 romp.
Through the first six weeks of the 2022 season, Bunny’s and the Love Handles are the only two undefeated teams.
Following are the standings as of June 20: Bunny’s Bar & Grill 5-0, Love Handles 5-0, Metropolitan Ford 5-1, Mayhem 4-2, C-Side 3-2, Federated Insurance 3-2-1, Unified Fielders 2-3, Davanni’s 2-3, Dogs of Corn 2-4, Boys of Summer 1-3-1, Bruce Avenue All-Stars 1-4, Hats for Bats 0-4, Ur Mom 0-5.