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Behind Montero, Erie Budweiser claims tournament title

July 21, 2015

Dunkirk, NY


ORIGINAL STORY by Gib Snyder III - Observer

Behind Montero, Erie Budweiser claims tournament title

July 20, 2015
By GIB SNYDER III - OBSERVER Sports Reporter , Observer Today

Max Montero, who dominated throughout the weekend, tossed a perfect game in the championship game of the 40th annual First Ward Falcon Club Fastpitch Tournament Sunday, at Promenschenkel Stadium, in Dunkirk, as Erie Budweiser defeated the New York Bombers, 2-0.

"At the end of the day, winning all the games on Sunday is what counts," Erie Budweiser's Bill Hillhouse said. "It stung to lose the game (Saturday) that we did, first game of the day, but we said right after that game that, that was the only game we were going to lose and we were pretty confident that was what we were going to do. We had the team to do it and we accomplished our goal."

Montero finished with nine strikeouts while Blair Ezekiel and Leo Latasa drove in the decisive runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ezekiel had an RBI sacrifice fly for Erie's first run while Latasa had a run-scoring double.

Article Photos

OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder III
Pictured is Erie Budweiser's Max Montero delivering a pitch against the New York Bombers, during the championship game of the 40th annual First Ward Falcon Club Fastpitch Tournament, on Sunday, at Promenschenkel Stadium. Erie Budweiser won 2-0.

"Max proved that he's one of the best pitchers in the world," Hillhouse said of the Argentinean. "The way he pitched (Sunday), it wouldn't have mattered who the competition was. He had his command, he had his location, he had his velocity, his movement. He had everything working for him and I really don't think it would have mattered much who he pitched against, I think he would have had an outstanding game no matter what."

"The best thing was my location," Montero added. "The pitches were really moving good and we mixed in all the pitches.

"We play together back home," Montero continued of his catcher Sunday. "I know him very well and he knows me. He called the pitches and it was easy for us."

Ezekiel, who has spent time with the Canadian national team, added a double off losing pitcher Jason Surdyke.

Erie Bud earned its way into the title game with a 10-0 win over Jordan Jays in the quarterfinals and an 8-0 win over Farmeryville in the semifinals.

The Bombers punched their ticket into the final game with a 9-1 win over Lakeside Club, a 1-0 extra-inning win over the Niagara Snappers and a 5-1 victory over last year's champion, Dempsey & Baxter in the semifinals.

By all accounts, the 40th rendition of the tournament was another success.

"It's close to home," Hillhouse remarked of why he continues to bring a team back to the tournament year after year. "Despite the imperfections of the tournament, it's a good time and it's a relatively laid back atmosphere and you never know what's going to show up and who is going to show up. And that makes it kind of unique. Some tournaments, it's the same teams every year, and the same people, and here, you never know."

With a field that includes steady participants like Erie Budweiser, the Bombers, Woodstock, Ontario, the Wyevale Tribe, Dempsey & Baxter, Jordan Jays, another team from Ontario, and occasional participants like the Niagara Snappers, it is easy to see why the First Ward Falcon Club tourney is able to continue during a time when men's fastpitch softball is on life support.

"I would say, from what I heard, there's a lot more top-caliber teams here than in years past," Hillhouse added. "But you have to balance that comment a little bit, because there has been some years where there hasn't been as many good teams here, due to scheduling conflicts with everybody.

"(Tim Wdowiasz) has done a pretty good job this year of getting some good teams here and keeping this thing going," Hillhouse continued. "You've got to tip your hat to a guy who just keeps this tournament going and going and going for 40 years now."

"It's pretty good," Bombers' player Dan Edholm said of the competition of this year's tournament. "There was a lot of younger Canadian teams here that were winning some ball games. And I'd say half the field was Canadian and they play a lot of ball, so they come down here and compete with the American teams for sure."

With steady competition and top-notch pitching, teams looking to prepare themselves for the Amateur Softball Association Nationals, or the International Softball Congress' World Tournament, will likely continue to use this tournament as a means to prepare for the competition they will see down the road.

"We got invited (to play in the ISCs)," Ponsonby Sting coach Jim Kurtz said. "We'll be going in August and (last year) we lost a few one-sided games, but we also won a few, so it was a good experience."

"We've just always had a good time," Edholm added when asked why his team comes back to play in the tournament. "And we've always faired pretty well here. It's good competition, usually good weather and (Tim Wdowiasz) puts on a good tournament."

With year number 41 of the tournament now just 362 days away, there's no reason to believe that Wdowiasz will have any trouble filling out another competitive bracket.

Sunday's scores

Playoffs - First Round

Farmeryville 4, Toronto Batmen 3

New York Bombers 9, Lakeside Club 1

Dempsey & Baxter 5, Ponsonby 3

Jordan Jays 6, East Coast Renegades 5


Farmeryville 12, Wyevale 7

New York Bombers 1, Niagara Snappers 0

Dempsey & Baxter 5, Woodstock, ON 0

Erie Budweiser 10, Jordan Jays 0


Erie Budweiser 8, Farmeryville 0

New York Bombers 5, Dempsey & Baxter 1


Erie Budweiser 2, New York Bombers 0

Note: For any interested men's fastpitch fans, the annual Ed McCormick Fastpitch Tournament will be held in Erie, Pa., on Aug. 1 and Aug. 2, with some of the top club teams in the world attending.


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