Houghton uses fast start to earn Over 50 title

Paul Peterson/For the Gazette The Houghton Over 50 Softball team captured the league playoff title with an 8-4 win over Chassell Thursday. Houghton has won four of the last six playoff crowns.

TAPIOLA — Arnie Putala knew his team faced an uphill battle Thursday night when it met Houghton for the Over 50 Softball League playoff championship.

“We haven’t beaten them all season,” the Chassell manager, Putala, after an 8-4 defeat at the hands of their rivals. “When we allowed them five runs in the first inning … it was tough to overcome.”

Houghton manager Dave Usitalo, whose team has won four of the past six playoff titles, said a steady approach has served his team.

“I think we go into every game with the same approach …. to play good defense behind Steve (Dunstan),” he said. “We did again tonight and had enough offense to win.”

The steady Dunstan limited Chassell to ten hits in winning it. Losing chucker Mitch Lake gave up 14 safeties.

After falling behind 5-0 early on, Chassell kept chipping away and had it down 5-4 after four frames.

But an RBI single by Dave Hoffman in the fifth upped it to 6-4 and two more tallies in the bottom of the sixth made for the final score.

Rick Niemi’s triple was the big hit in the inning.

Usitalo’s team ended the game by turning a clean double play.

“That play was kind of indicative of our defensive play,” he said. “Our infield has been solid all season.”

Kevin Tormala led the winners with three hits, while Niemi, Hoffman and Jed Pollard all had two raps.

Chassell was paced by three hits by Jerry Fish. Nick Lindemann, Charlie Kemppainen and Steve Giddings all had two.