LONG BEACH - The Long Beach Merchants men's softball team dropped their first three games in the NSA Recreational tournament over the weekend, but held on to win their final two contests. They won 19-9 and 15-13 for team manager Dave Cook.
According to Cook, "We had won only one game in four tournaments until today. Our hitting really picked up in our last two games."
His club took a 15-7 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning in the consolation round, but several defensive lapses allowed Wayne's Inn to close to within 15-13 before the Merchants squeezed the final pop-up for the win.
The Merchants play in the Astoria Recreational softball league and in several local tournaments during the year. Besides Cook, who also pitches, the following players are on the team: John Goulter, Clark Jacobson, Ron and Dan Cox, Sam Samuela, Glenn Trusty, Shawn Crisham, Jon Marsh, Kevin Martin, Rick Huston and Paul Jacobson.
Cook stressed that winning and losing were secondary to the camaraderie and fun of being able to enjoy the game.
"Everyone contributed to our success in the final game today," he concluded. "Trusty and Crisham were voted as all-stars in the tourney."
In the mid 1980s, there were 12 men's teams and eight women's softball adult recreational league teams that played their games at the Long Beach Fields. Labor Day tournaments had over 50 teams competing, with some of the most powerful clubs in the Pacific Northwest visiting the beach that weekend.
The numbers have dwindled to only two men's teams and one women's teams. Many of people who played in the Peninsula Softball League in the '80s are now parents of present-day Ilwaco baseball and softball athletes.
There are 18 softball tournaments held at the Long Beach fields between May 15 and September 19, with a women's and a co-ed tourney sponsored by Chico's Pizza being the only local organization benefiting from the events.
Ilwaco High School sports teams, cheer squads and coaches operate the concessions stand for the Booster's Club and receive funds to help improve their programs throughout the school year.