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Senior men of summer

Dan BurkhartDave Fairchild of Grass Valley takes a swing for the Acorns Sunday afternoon at the 14th Annual Penn Valley Summer Classic at Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley.
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The softball was hot Saturday and Sunday at Penn Valley’s Western Gateway Park.

And so was the Heat.

The Benchmark Thermal Heat, made up of local senior softball players, took four of five games in the 14th Annual Penn Valley Summer Classic senior softball tournament to finish second behind Southern California’s Fairway Ford in the major sub-group of the elite red division of the 18-team tournament.



The Heat, formerly known as the Old A’s, play approximately 30 tournaments all over the United States, defeated everybody but Fairway Ford at the Summer Classic.

“Competing against guys your age and the friendship you make is outstanding,” said Rough and Ready resident Mel Pape, who played outfield and pitched for the Heat. “There are some good athletes out here.”




Five winners were crowned based on ability levels, including Sacramento’s Staff Tech, which topped local squad the Acorns to also take home a Red Division title. Lincoln Oaks was the only team to finish the two-day pool play tournament unbeaten en route to a White Division title, a mid-level grouping. Also winning a White Division title was TNT, which went 3-2 overall.

The Oaks, made up of local players, went 4-1 overall, edged the Modesto Eagles for the sole Blue Division crown. Sunday’s title was the second the Oaks have won this year.

This was the first year for the Oaks under Paul Hilton, and they’ll go on to play senior softball tournaments in Carson City, Nev., and the World Senior Games at St. George, Utah, later this summer.

“We played poorly the first game and lost the first game (17-16 to the Hornets), said Nevada City resident Dave Schwarz, the Oaks’ third baseman. “We knew we had to get on the ball, then won the next four. We expected to do well in this division but it didn’t look too good Saturday morning.”


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