The NYTHL’s Sixth League Date of the 2018-2019 season was an interesting one. Gary Nicholls returned from North Carolina, Lou “The Legend” Marinoff was away on business and maker of the very games used in the NYTHL – John Fayolle made his season debut. The League’s most outspoken player Bob D’Addario, who incidentally has been playing well, unfortunately came down with Bronchitis and was a last minute scratch. Eight players in all participated and with defending champion Lou Marinoff away – once again an opportunity presented itself for someone new to make the Finals. Let’s review the day.
With most of the usual suspects in attendance, a shot at making the Final with one of the big guns away presented an interesting opportunity for many. Following the completion of the double round robin – Vinny “The Vinner” Catania once again led the way with an 11-2-1 record earning him the first seed with 23 points. The season debut of Johnny “NY Lightning” Fayolle was a surprise. His 9-4-1 record which was good for the second seed was an even bigger one as he finished with 19 points. George Slater followed last month’s stellar play with another solid outing of 8-5-1 (17 points) which was good for third. Chris D’Andrea improved upon last month’s performance with a 7-4-3 record for 17 points. He lost the tie-breaker to George, which dropped him into the fourth spot. Len Mecca – a sometimes slow starter continues to work his way back from double knee replacement, finishing fifth with a 4-7-3 record good for 11 points. Anthony Sciacca 6th, Gary Nicholls 7th and Larry Durham 8th rounded out the standings. With eight players present the Quarterfinal playoffs were set.
The first seeded Vinner was able to sweep past Eight Seed Larry Durham in three games, by scores of 6-2, 7-3 and 5-1. Two Seed John Fayolle needed four games to win his series, defeating seventh seed Gary Nicholls (G-Nick) pretty convincingly. Fayolle took game one by a score of 9-7. G-Nick tied the series with a 5-3 victory before bowing out in games three and four, falling to Johnny Lightning 8-2 and 11-4. Third Seed George Slater played three tough games against six seed Anthony Sciacca; however Slater swept past Tony by scores of 4-2, 2-0 and 2-1. The Final spot in the Semis was determined when Len Mecca Swept past Chris D’Andrea in three games by scores of 5-3, 3-1, and 2-1. The Semi Finals were then set.
The one seed Vinny Catania once again battled the old rod warrior - veteran Len Mecca. The Vinner successfully maneuvered past Mecca in three games by scores of 3-0, 6-2, and 6-1. Catania secured his trip into the Finals as he awaited the winner of Two Seed John Fayolle versus Third Seed George Slater. Fayolle, despite being away was the slight favorite in this one, especially considering his strong showing in the double round robin. George however struck first by taking game one 6-4. Johnny Lightning tied the series with a 6-3 victory in game two. George reminded all in attendance why his star is rising. His solid defense went to work in a pivotal game three as he defeated Fayolle 4-1. With George one game away from his first Final, he seized the opportunity with an assortment of Pico shots and wing to center tips to win a slugfest in game four by a score of 10-8, thus earning Slater his first trip to a League Date Final against his lifelong best friend Vinny Catania.
Would the experience of The Vinner or the hunger of Finals newcomer George Slater prevail in this battle of longtime friends? If you went with the experience of The Vinner – you would have guessed right. Despite splitting two games in the round robin, Slater would not experience much success in this Sixth League Date Final of the year. It was Catania whose defense put up a formidable obstacle against George. The Vinner Swept past George by scores of 5-1, 3-0 and 4-2 for an aggregate total of 12-3 for the series. The Vinner was very complimentive of Slater stating that “George is already a real good player. Once his offense catches up to his defense – he will win his share of titles”. Time will tell if The Vinner is correct. This was the fifth league date victory for The Vinner. Slater finished second and by virtue of a 6-2 Consolation game victory – John Fayolle finished third, capping a very successful return.
Next month on May 18th there is expected to be the biggest turnout of the year with a new player or two. With Lou Marinoff back from Europe and the emergence of George Slater, Chris D’Andrea and yes even Bob D’Addario – the competition will be fierce in the Final league date before the playoffs. Hopefully we will see you there.