MARCO ISLAND — Saturday’s “Bravest vs. Finest” softball game between Marco Island’s police and fire departments was a hard fought battle, but in the end, firefighters took the trophy with a score of 12-9.
In the first inning at Winterberry Park, firefighters showed some cheek that cost them the lead and nearly the game allowing, four runs while intentionally walking several batters. By the end of the fourth inning, police added two and retained the lead at 6-4.
At the end of the sixth inning, with the police leading 9-5, some fire department fans were clearly on edge. Fire-rescue team captain Chris Bowden seemed unruffled by the score.
“It’s early in the game,” Bowden said. “We’ve got time to come back, and we’ve got a couple of guys we can put in to turn things around.”
Police team captain Pete Beucler was grateful things were going his way.
“We’ve been practicing and we have a couple of new people who are great ball players,” Beucler said. “We’re ahead, and I’m extremely glad it’s not going the way it did last year. Every inning is a battle.”
Last year, the two rivals were mismatched in their inaugural game with fire outscoring police, 22-9.
Play got away from Buecler’s team after the sixth inning and no additional runs were scored by police. Several members of the police department shook their heads after fire-rescue team member Sergio DeLeon slammed an in-park homerun in the sixth.
“DeLeon is our problem,” and unidentified police team member muttered after the run. “He’s just killing us as short stop, too.”
At the top of the ninth, firefighters sealed the deal holding the final score to 12-9.
“It was touch and go there,” said Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation President Dianna Dohm. “But I knew our firefighters would have a plan to pull it out in the end.”
Dohm said she was grateful to have Sean Adams throw out the first pitch in memory of his father. Adams is the son of fire-rescue driver engineer and EMT Jerry W. Adams who died from cancer on Feb. 15.
Events of the day began at 11 a.m. with a performance by Marco Island Charter Middle School’s Jazz Band. At noon, two teams from the Cal Ripken Youth League slugged it out in a two-inning game.
The day’s events were sponsored by the Marco Island Police Foundation and Fire Rescue Foundation with all proceeds split by the two organizations.
Announcer for the games was Steve Reynolds of Island Paradise DJ.
As with last year, several antics preceded the game including police tape on the firefighters’ dugout, a mock automated external defibrillator drill by Chief Mike Murphy on Policeman Al Schettino, and umpires tossing powdered-sugar doughnuts instead of a coin to determine home-field advantage.
Marco Island City Council Chairman Jerry Gibson summed up the day’s events.
“It’s just a real testament to city employees, volunteers and the two foundations,” he said, “and to this city of small-town America for sharing a really great day.”