Bar III/Two Minute Warning began defending its Los Lunas Men’s Softball League title with a thrilling 23-20 win over the Crushers Monday night in opening round action of the league playoffs at Daniel Fernandez Park.

Playing with only eight players in the first game of a three-game series, Bar III/TMW, which led the league in runs scored with 470, out-slugged the Crushers, who were second in the league with 345 runs.

Bar III/TMW took this disadvantage willingly, sitting three players on the bench to play without a second baseman.

The Crushers threw everything at the defending champs, but still came up short. Jim Lezeau hit for the cycle in the game, with a single, two doubles, a triple and a home run.

Crusher sluggers Aaron Yalch and Zack Stephenson crushed three home runs between them in the game. Yalch also had a pair of seeing-eyed singles to help the Crushers’ cause. But Bar III/TMW would not be out done.

Marcus Miller, who earlier this season hit five home runs in a game, had another impressive game, going 5-for-5 with three home runs. All three of Miller’s home runs came with two outs.

After falling behind, the Crushers clawed and scratched back into the game, getting as close as one run, 12-11, after five innings. After falling behind again, the Crushers climbed back to within three runs in the seventh before Bar III/TMW recorded the final out.

The Crushers will have a chance to exact their revenge on Thursday, Aug. 1, in Game 2 of the series. If necessary, Game 3 will be on Aug. 6.

In another A tournament contest, the third-seeded Socorro Magic beat the seventh-seeded Los Chavez Machetes, 19-7. The Magic won the American Division with a shocking 26-20 win over Bar III/TMW. Both teams finished the season with 13-3 records, but Magic owned the tie-breaker with a head-to-head victory and an 8-0 record in the American Division.

The Magic won the game easily, 19-7, and will play the second game of the series on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. If needed, Game 3 will be on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at a time yet to be determined.

In the B tournament, third- seeded D&H Underground defeated sixth-seeded Sud-Chemie, 16-2.

The B tournament is a single elimination playoff, so Sud-Chemie was ousted while D&H advanced to play either the second-seeded Diamondbacks or seventh-seeded Rolloff Containers, depending on the outcome of Tuesday night’s game (no score was available at News-Bulletin press time).

Also taking place on Tuesday, the seventh-seeded Rebels were scheduled to play the second-seeded Bandits in Game 1 of their series in the A tournament. Also, the top-seeded Royals were to meet the eighth-seeded Longshots.

Wednesday night, Aztec LP and the Sidewinders will play a B tournament game at 7 p.m. The Machetes will try to even the score with Socorro Magic at 8 p.m., and Team Poison and the Brewzers will play in another B tournament game at 9:20 p.m.

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Tony McClary