Zandri wins men's softball A Division title

Normally when there are holes to fill, construction companies use dirt, concrete or mortar.

None of those industry standards can swing a bat or field a ground ball, however, which meant Zandri Construction needed other solutions.

With several of its best players unable to play, top-seed Zandri was no sure thing going into the Ridgefield Men’s Softball League A Division finals against the Ancient Mariner/Ridgefield Plumbing combined squad Aug. 10.

“We were worried,” said Rich Marra, the team’s manager and self-described emergency player. “We had to move some people around and put them in positions they weren’t used to playing. We were definitely not at full strength.”

But Zandri was still good enough.

After rallying for a 6-5, extra-inning victory in the opener, Zandri edged Ancient Mariner/Ridgefield Plumbing, 13-11, in the second game to sweep the best two-of-three championship series. It’s the second title in three seasons for Zandri, which also won in 2015 before losing to Tony’s Deli in the finals last year.

“The core of the team is the guys who played baseball at Ridgefield High and graduated in 2013,” said Marra, the father of one of those players, Jason. “This is the team’s third year and we’ve been in the finals each year. The biggest advantages we have are our athleticism and fielding; the other teams can’t match us in those areas.”

Behind 4-0 in the first game, Zandri rallied to tie the score with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ryan Debany and Chris Brewi provided RBI singles, and Tom DeMarco followed with a two-run double.

Ancient Mariner/Ridgefield Plumbing responded with a run in the top of the seventh to go ahead, 5-4, but Zandri forced extra innings by retying the game in the bottom of the seventh. Singles from Chris Scally and Tim Gillis preceded Colin Virag’s RBI single, which evened the contest.

After Ancient Mariner/Ridgefield Plumbing failed to score in the top of the eighth, Zandri got the winning run in the bottom of the inning. Brewi had a double and Debany was walked, putting runners on first and second with one out. DeMarco then lofted a deep fly ball that was caught, but Jason Marra (pinch running for Brewi) tagged up and scored on a close play at the plate.

“It was a rare low-scoring, extra-innings game,” said Rich Marra. “They kept us scoreless for the first four innings; during the season we averaged between 15 and 20 runs per game.”

The slugfest came in the second game. Zandri scored four runs in the top of the second and four more in the top of the third to open an 8-2 lead. Virag, Jason Marra and Tim Debany had RBI singles in the second, and Joe Alvarez added a three-run homer in the third.

Ancient Mariner/Ridgefield Plumbing came back with five runs in the bottom of the third to close within 8-7, but Zandri went on a five-run rally of its own in the top of the fourth to go ahead, 13-7. DeMarco contributed a two-run homer; Tim Gillis had an RBI single; and Virag followed with a two-run single.

The runs kept coming in the bottom of the inning, with Ancient Mariner/Ridgefield Plumbing scoring four times to cut Zandri’s lead to 13-11.

Following a scoreless fifth inning, Zandri got a three-run homer from Virag to extend its lead to 16-11. Ancient Mariner/Ridgefield Plumbing got one run back in the bottom of the sixth but was held scoreless in the seventh, as Zandri secured its second title in three seasons.

Notes: DeMarco was named the MVP of the championship series. He went 5-for-8 over the two games.

Brewi pitched both games for Zandri Construction.

The championship was the 13th for Tim Debany, a longtime player (with several teams) in the league.

Zandri finished the season with a 21-3 overall record, including a 4-0 mark in the playoffs.

Tony’s Deli, the defending champion, was disqualified for using an ineligible player during its semifinal series against Ancient Mariner/Ridgefield Plumbing.