Money’s raised—it’s time to win a title
Despite all of their regular season success, KBUT has proven to be a post-season tragedy. I would say the timing of the summer pledge drive might have something to do with that since it always happens right at the start of the playoffs, causing a major distraction among the players and managers.
But with the $42,000 now raised, KBUT can now focus on its next goal. Well, they still need funds to power up, i.e., improve their signal to bring you community radio from Monarch Pass to Blue Mesa and Gunnison to Gothic, but other than that, they can now focus on a rec league title.
They suffered a tough 12-11 loss to Tully’s last week, dropping KBUT into the losers bracket and leaving them to take on the Avalanche on Tuesday night at Gothic Field.
With both teams facing the end of their seasons, it was sure to be an intense game and in the end, it was and then some, as a couple decisions, a couple of inches and one run provided the difference between elation and elimination.
After the first inning, it was obvious we had a good game on our hands. The Avalanche was flush with talent as nearly their entire youth movement was on hand as well as both Perdie Linehan and Maggie Dethloff, who were back from vacation for the big game.
The Avalanche jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a walk and a two-RBI single from Sam Robards, but KBUT came right back in the bottom of the first, scoring four runs.
Carson West doubled and scored, Tucker Roberts drove another run in with a triple to right, and back-to-back errors gave up two more KBUT runs and a 4-3 lead.
West would strike again in the bottom of the second inning with a double and scoring on a base hit by Allison Gipple for a 5-3 KBUT lead, but the Avalanche responded to tie it up in the top of the third inning on RBI base hits from John Norton and Linehan.
The Avalanche then turned it on, shutting down the KBUT bats and returning to the plate to rattle off seven runs in the top of the fourth inning.
Mike Montano sparked the rally, stretching a single for a double and then hustling home to score on a single from Laura Mitchell. Base hits by Mark Reaman and Maggie Chlipala then loaded the bases for Ben Reaman. Ben struggled in his first two at-bats but delivered this time with a two-RBI single. Dethloff reloaded the bases with a single and Nolan Blunck stepped up to drive a grand slam inside the park home run to put the Avalanche on top 12-5.
The Avalanche then dodged a couple bullets in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings. Both times KBUT put runners in scoring position early and were poised to bust a rally of its own but the Avalanche defense did its job to hold KBUT at bay, temporarily.
It took until the bottom of the sixth inning and two outs before the KBUT bats truly woke up. John Hopper singled and scored on a double by Meredith McNamara. Kelly Jensen cracked a grounder that proved too hot to handle for a RBI infield single. Caitlin Fitzpatrick punched a RBI double, Scott Stewart tapped a RBI single and Jeremy Rubingh drove a RBI double to left center to tie the game 13-13 heading into the seventh inning.
But, it ain’t over until it’s over and the Avalanche responded in the top of the seventh. A couple errors by the KBUT defense put runners in scoring position with two outs. Sam Reaman joined in the family affair to do his part with a RBI single; a third KBUT error loaded the bases for the Avalanche with veteran Ron “Ronco” Chlipala stepping to the plate. Ronco has seen his fair share of tense situations in the local softball leagues so the pressure of bases loaded with two outs was nothing to him as he calmly stroked a two-RBI single over third base to put the Avalanche back on top 16-13 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
At this point it appeared as if we had another KBUT implosion on our hands. After rallying to tie the game, they committed three errors in the final inning to fall behind, flirting with yet another post-season debacle.
But, like I said, they reached their pledge drive goal and the team could focus on the task at hand.
West, as he had done all game long, led off with another base hit and scored when a grounder by Hopper smacked off Ronco’s foot and dribbled out into right field for a RBI triple. The Avalanche turned the second out but another run scored, leaving KBUT down 16-15 with two outs and no one on.
Then, the Avalanche gambled. They walked the next batter, Kelly Jensen and due to the man walk, woman walk rule, Jensen moves to second and the next woman to bat gets an automatic walk, if she so chooses. She did so choose and KBUT had two runners on, with Stewart stepping to the plate.
Stewart stood there and waited and waited and waited and was looking at a full count with two outs and the tying run on second. Ronco tried to pick the front outside part of the strike zone on the final pitch and ice the win with a strikeout but the ball fell just two inches short for ball four. Stewart took his walk to second and Jensen took his walk to home, tying the game 16-16.
Liz Ewing opted not to take the automatic walk and flared a fly ball to shallow right. Ben charged in on the ball diving for the grab but the ball skipped off the top of his webbing and fell to the ground for the game-winning base hit—keeping KBUT’s hopes alive at its first rec league title.
The semifinals will be held on Thursday, August 15 at Gothic Field with the Meatsticks, the Eldo and KBUT battling it out for a shot at Tully’s in the finals on Tuesday, August 20, again at Gothic Field.