Extra inning tie-breaker
It was another classic showdown between the Rasta Hairnets and the Mountain Spirits Likkers—classic for a number of reasons.
First, there’s the weather. Cloudy, cold with spitting rain. Ahhhh, softball in the Butte.
Then, there’s the music—reggae, of course.
Not to mention the jerseys. The Rastas adorned in “wife-beaters” emblazoned with a green, gold and red tie-dye design.
The Likkers wear slightly more traditional baseball jerseys, with a variety of number schemes on the back. One reads “40 oz.” Another had just the basic number 4. And one uniform read numerically, “2 4 5, 5 4 10”—in other words, two for five, five for ten, something I hadn’t heard since I was traveling in a bus following a band.
At any rate, the match-up between these two teams is steeped in history. Two years ago, the teams battled for the title, with the Rastas coming out on top without a hint of ill will between the two squads.
If any two teams embrace the spirit of recreational competition, it’s these two teams, at least when they play each other.
Thursday night at Pitsker Field was another example of the healthy camaraderie/competition between them.
It started off righteous in the true spirit of Jah as the Rastas took a four-run lead in the top of the first inning.
Kevin Reinert pushed the first Rasta home to Babylon by base with an RBI double to shallow centerfield.
Alex Fenlon punched a two RBI double to right center and Denise Reinert tagged an RBI double over second base, her first of several highlight moments of the game.
Jason Fries put the Likkers on the board in the bottom of the first inning with a solo inside-the-park-home-run (ITPHR).
The Rastas added to their lead in the top of the second inning as a walk scored the Rastas fifth run and a sacrifice hit RBI from Carlos Velado put the Rastas on top 6-1.
The Likkers responded in the bottom of the second inning with a four-run rally.
Scott Tyree led off with a stand up triple off the fence in center and scored on a base hit from Katie Angel. Two more base hits from the Likkers set Jakob Hassig up for a two RBI double.
Fries punched a shot to deep center, Denise backpedaled for the grab to deny Fries but a runner tagged up and scored to close the Rasta lead down to one by the third inning. Outstanding defense highlighted the next two innings as both teams were held scoreless until the sixth inning.
Reinert reopened the offensive bag for the Rastas leading off with a double off the fence in left field. Jane Goldsmith pushed Reinert home with a single and Denise tapped her second RBI base hit of the game punching a single to center to score Goldsmith.
The Rastas’ offensive awakening proved contagious as the Likkers bats came alive in the bottom of sixth inning for four runs.
Aaron Tomcak started it off with an RBI single followed by a power bunt single by Jesse Ebner to load the bases. The Likkers pushed three more runs across on a fielder’s choice RBI and a two RBI double by Fries to take the lead for the first time all game with one inning to play.
It was rally time for the Rastas. Down 9-8 in the top of the seventh, the Rastas turned to the music and message of Winston Rodney, better known as Burning Spear, to usher in a comeback.
The cry was answered as Matt Peacock singled and reached third base on a single up the middle from Jaime Sibulkin.
Velado scored Peacock on a sacrifice fly ball to tie the game 9-9, and the Rastas defense held the Likkers scoreless in the bottom of the seventh inning to send the game into extra innings.
Extra innings are intense as each team starts their at-bat with a runner on second base, and every hitter steps to the plate with a full count.
Matt Gutter gave the Rastas a 10-9 lead with a single in the top of the eighth inning but the Likkers returned the favor plus one in the bottom of the inning.
Ebner drove in the game-tying run and Gavin Sollberger stroked an RBI base hit for the 11-10 Likkers win and another fitting end to a Crested Butte classic slow pitch showdown.