Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Watanabe exacts its revenge

Avenges earlier Perkins losses

By Shannon Russell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Perkins Roofing TPS entered the Metro Softball Championships with back-to-back Majors titles, and manager Craig Perkins had no intention of giving up the bragging rights in Sunday's finals.

But when Watanabe/K&G/Scarlato's/TPS defeated Perkins twice in a marathon night of softball at Rumpke Park, Perkins was happy to congratulate the winners.

"Now, I don't like to lose," said Perkins, a close friend of rival coach Dave Watanabe. "But I think it's satisfying if either our team or his wins the Metro."

Perkins defeated Watanabe 23-14 in the Met's opening round, bumping Watanabe to the loser's bracket. Perkins run-ruled its next three opponents, amassing 71 runs to its rivals' 29. Watanabe won its next five games, defeating Robke Sales/Ky.Chiro/Reds Boyz 23-14 for a shot at Perkins in Sunday's winners bracket/losers bracket playoff.

"We knew both teams were the best in the city," Watanabe said.

Watanabe won the first game 24-23 after a rain delay, forcing a winner-take-all game. The ensuing game, which didn't end until 1:30 a.m., saw Watanabe surprise Perkins 32-26 under the lights.

"It was a big upset," said Danney Saylor, ASA commissioner and Rumpke Park executive director. "It wasn't that it wasn't a good win for Watanabe - but Perkins is such a good team it's hard to imagine anyone could double-dip them."

Perkins blew a six-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning in Sunday's first game. Coach Perkins said the second loss was a product of poor hitting and complacency.

"We were playing real well at first, so when we got to Dave's team, we were a little too confident," Perkins said.

Not counting Sunday's games, Perkins and Watanabe played each other 10 times this year. Perkins won eight times. Sunday's wins gave Watanabe its first Met title since 1999.

Watanabe enjoyed a brief stint as Perkins' assistant coach after his own team dissolved in 1999. Although Watanabe has become a competitor again, both coaches look forward to the meetings.

"We talk to each other every day and our families are close," Perkins said. "And you always like to play a great team."


E-mail srussell@enquirer.com

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