Area resident hits triple, 2 RBI
PENN VALLEY – Don Runcie refuses to act his age.
Runcie, who is a little more than a year from his 80th birthday, turned in gems with both the glove and the bat for the Blue team at the 2004 Gold Country Senior Softball Association’s 60-plus All-Star game in the first half of a doubleheader Thursday at Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley.
In the 50-59 age-group game, the Blue team posted 18 hits, including an Ed Kirkley home run, en route to a 13-11 win.
Runcie, a World War II veteran, went 2-for-4 with a triple and drove in a pair of runs, but it wasn’t enough to hold off a late charge by the Gold team in an 18-15 loss.
“We just stopped hitting the ball, and they started to hit the ball,” the Lake Wildwood resident said. “There were some errors and mishaps out there and they were able to get back in it.”
The Gold team finished with 31 hits, including three doubles, a pair of triples and a home run.
The Blue team was just behind in total hits with 26 hits. The Blue team finished with two doubles, two triples and two home runs.
“It was great to get out here and play. (This game) satisfies a need,” Runcie added. “It was especially rewarding to play with such a great group of guys.”
The Blue team put 10 hits on the board in the first three innings – including a leadoff inside-the-park home run by Joel Guthrie – to take a commanding 8-2 lead.
Guthrie went 4-for-4 with seven RBI.
Down, but not out, the Gold team rallied for 16 runs across the next four innings – GSSCA rules allow for a maximum of five runs per inning until the final inning – to take an 18-12 lead into the bottom of the seventh, and final, inning.
“That’s not atypical in this league. Every team has the ability to score a lot of runs,” Runcie said. ” We have a five-run limit, and that helps cuts down scoring, but the teams can still score an awful lot of runs.”
The Blue cut the lead to three runs thanks to Guthrie’s second round tripper of the day – this time a two-run shot over the center field fence – and a George Calkins RBI double down the right field line.
With one out and a runner on second, the Blue team’s hopes for a win were still alive, but the Gold defense retired the next two batters to hold on for the win.
“We just stayed with it We kept hitting the ball and played good defense,” said Gold second baseman Bob Hannah, 64, who teamed with shortstop Ken Puckett for a pair of double plays. “It was fun to get out there and play with all of the guys. You play against each other in league, so it was nice to be able to play with them on the same team”
Tom Triplett, Jack Westrum, Frank Seman and Larry Kaufman each went 3-for-3 and combined for three RBI in the win.
Dennis Cole went 2-for-2 and three RBI for the Gold team. Dean Girdner, who hit an inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning, went 2-for-3 with a team-best four RBI. Frank Kasparian had a pair of hits and drove in three runs.
Hannah, Jerry Furman, Merle Hackett, Myron Prychun, George Woodle, Ken Puckett and Joe Baggetta each singled for the Gold team.
For the Blue team, Calkins, Dick Scott, Jim Kerns and Tony Martin each went 2-for-3.
Bob Swarthout and Bill Johnson had a pair of hits each. Johnson and Paul Hilton had two RBI each.
Don Pryor went 1-for-3.
In the 50-59 age group game, the Blue team’s Raully Paulson, Marty Penaluna, Randy Kephart and Jim Keck each went 2-for-2 with a combined six RBI.
Kirkley had two hits and three RBI. Jim Moule, Jim Hodskins, Rich Ramirez, Jerry Hall, Bob Hare, Steve Mason, Kent Noye and Ted Bivert had a single each.
For the Gold team, Tom Hess, Jim Pack and Jerry Schwarz each went 2-for-3.
Steve Burnett finished up at 2-for-2 with a RBI.
Dave Fitzpatrick, Stewart McKenzie, Steve Fjeldsted, Bill Baxley, Don Heyfron and Bob Templeton each singled.
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Hank Sowell’s introduction to the game of golf came early as a set of clubs was among the gifts he received on his very first birthday.