Slaughter rule, 10-run rule, softball rules!
What can be said that hasn’t already been said about the rec league finals last week? The KBUT 90.3ers, that’s 90.3 in Crested Butte, 94.9 Jack’s Cabin and Almont and 88.7 KGNI in Gunnison, are the 2014 rec league slowpitch softball champions.
It has been a loooooooong time coming. For years I’ve watched KBUT put together phenomenal regular seasons only to crumble in the post-season and fall short of the title.
There was something different this year though. For one, team player/manager Grant McFarren made some shrewd moves leading up to the 2014 season. He picked up Andrew Hadley after a two-year hiatus. Not only does he add talent to the field, but he also brings the energy and composure necessary for post-season success. Also, he managed to sign Kat Harrington from the disbanded Wine-Os and her husband, Shawn, who is a current KBUT DJ.
They rode the playoff freight train, winning every single game on their magical mystery tour to the title.
Tully’s, meanwhile, was on a different ride all season long. They won the rec league title last year and were on a high speed light rail ride destroying all who stood in their way, putting together an undefeated season. Some teams got close. The Avalanche got close, even the Hares got close, but no one could finish them off.
Opponents were pissed. The league was pissed. Everyone was pissed. Not as much as people appear to be pissed about the double secret event coming to Crested Butte, but still pissed.
Tully’s got derailed though, when it mattered most. They lost Judd Mesaris, who moved from town, and then Robyn Estes to a separated shoulder. Then they lost, to KBUT, in the third round of the playoffs by a run and dropped down to the loser’s bracket.
Tully’s was great but not invincible.
As a result, when they emerged from the loser’s bracket a bit dinged up, they had their hands full when they faced KBUT in the finals. They had to beat KBUT twice if they wanted to repeat as champions. Meanwhile, KBUT needed just one win to finish what they started so many years ago.
Tully’s returned to their winning ways in the first game of the finals Thursday night at Gothic Field. They came out with both guns blazing, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the first, a 9-2 lead in the second inning and then ten-run ruled KBUT in the top of the third inning to build a 19-3 lead.
By the bottom of the fifth inning Tully’s was up 20-5 and all of a sudden a new rule emerged, the “slaughter” rule. It actually wasn’t new, it had been in place all season long, but never enforced.
Per the USSSAMESOTHUPFORWHATEVERBUDLIGHT rulebook, if a team leads by 20 after the third inning, or 15 after the fourth inning or 10 runs after the fifth inning, the game can be called.
Nevertheless, the call was made to call the game and since Tully’s won, the two teams would play once again, immediately.
Then the question arises, who is home team for game two? Both teams have a playoff loss. Tully’s came into the post-season the higher seed but were coming to the finals from the loser’s bracket. The local rulebook was opened for this one and there in black and white, it says that in such an event, a coin toss will determine who is the home team.
The coin was tossed, KBUT won it and chose to be home team. Was that the turning point for the evening? Maybe. Or was it when Hadley decided to stretch for third and got tossed out in the end of the first game. While the outcome was an out, it was an expression of defiance. “I’m a human being dammit! My life has value! I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
That energy carried into the second game of the night for KBUT.
Scott “King of Soul” Stewart followed Hadley’s lead in the top of the first inning, charging in on a fly ball to make a reaching grab. Game one he would have let it drop and played it safe. Game two? Not so much.
Nick Velasco provided his usual pop for Tully’s two hitters later crushing a two-run shot over left center for another early Tully’s lead but KBUT stopped it immediately to hold Tully’s in check this time.
Hadley led off the bottom of the first with a single, Meredith McNamara walked and Mark Ewing drove them home with a triple. KBUT tacked on a third run when a Kristen VanHoesen connected for an error-assisted RBI single and the winds were definitely shifting in KBUT’s favor.
KBUT continued to build on their lead in the bottom of the second inning as Heather Heinz and Hanna Waldman, two more key off-season McFarren acquisitions, each tapped base hits, Stewart drove a run home with a double, the Harringtons combined for RBI base hits and Ewing struck again with a two-RBI double for an 8-2 KBUT lead.
The KBUT surge had the fans delirious and things were getting a little ugly as random verbal shots, bordering on hatred, were fired at the Tully’s team. Like I said, people are pissed.
Tully’s, being Tully’s, took it all in stride as Velasco looked off some junk to take a walk and Darren Bishop cracked a two-run shot. Tyler Williams doubled and Elise Meier, the same Elise that claimed batting was the worst part of her life earlier this season, roped an RBI single.
Tully’s retired the side in the bottom of the third and the winds of change shifted back in Tully’s favor in the top of the fourth inning. Had it not been for Waldman, Tully’s may have returned to light speed. A lead-off single and then a double down the third base line by Ian Baird had two runners on with no outs and the meat of the Tully’s order stepping to the plate.
Jerry Heal sent a fly ball to right field and Waldman got a jump on it to make a reaching grab, allowing just one run to score. Velasco returned to the plate to blast another two-run shot, tying the game 8-8. But KBUT’s defense clamped down once again to stop Tully’s in their tracks and responded in the bottom of the fourth inning with another flurry of base hits and walks.
Three walks and a base hit scored one run, Kat Harrington slapped a two-RBI single, Ewing doubled to push another run in and John Hopper stretched for an RBI double to put KBUT back on top 13-8.
KBUT’s defense came through once again to retire the side in the top of the fifth and the winds shifted once more and for good as the KBUT bats went from hot to smoking.
Waldman singled, Hadley doubled, Shawn and Kat combined for two base hits and two runs and Ewing drove his fifth run of the game in. Hopper and Heinz partnered for two more RBI base hits and when Tully’s finally turned the third out, KBUT was up 21-8 after five innings, the “slaughter rule” was enforced, the game was called and KBUT was the 2014 rec league champions.