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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, September 14, 2015

Bethlehem Firefighters Regain Bragging Rights in Patriot Day Softball Game

Patriot Day is a sad day for many people, especially first responders. But Bethlehem's police and firefighters have an unusual and particularly American way of remembering the 9/11 tragedy. They play ball. Life goes on. After a prayer in remembrance of the nearly three thousand lives lost to terrorists on 9/11/01, police and firefighters square off for an annual softball game.

RJ Guering, a power hitter who can turn a double play.
Though firefighters had won this contest for seven years in a row, Bethlehem police pulled off an upset last year. Could they do it again?

That seemed likely at the beginning of the game. After one inning, police were ahead 3-0, scoring three runs off five singles and a walk. Their secret was speed, both offensively and defensively.  But that changed in the second inning, when R.J. Guering turned a double play and firefighters began blasting away. The game was suddenly tied.

In the third, firefighters added two more runs, thanks to a 320' raging bull by Jeff Stiffinella that still has not landed.

Officer Jim Smith takes mighty rip. 
"We got 'em right where we want 'em," joked police officer James Smith, who caught during the seven-inning game. He was right. Police scored two runs to tie the game in the fourth, and added another run in the seventh to give them a one-run lead.

But it would not last. With bases loaded, Jimmy Delgrosso hit a sharp single to send the runner on third home. Stiffinella, who had been on second, rounded the corner on third and scored, going for the win.

Firefighters won the game, but it was something of a Pyrrhic victory. Raven, George and Pharoah - the horses who make up the mounted police force - had already stolen the show as kids flocked to them..

This year, Homes for Heroes supplied all the food and even provided a $500 check to be split between the two departments.

Officer Stephanie Molnar waits for her pitch.

Pharoah, Raven and George were the real stars of the day. 

Sam Royer's Homes for Heroes supplied $500 check and some of the best food I've had in some time.

This shot is blurred, but is Stiffinella's HR hit. 

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