It was a game, until it wasn’t
by Than Acuff
Psycho Rocks and the Staff Infections faced off Wednesday night in town league softball at Gothic field and the game was a barnburner until it became a blow-out. And that’s the beauty of the local softball leagues.
Both teams proved able and ready through the first half of the game as they traded punches through the first four innings.
Psycho Rock Eli Fiddler opened the game up with a two-run inside the park home run (ITPHR) and player/manager Will Mixon kept it simple for his team, barking out such sound advice to the hitters as “just hit the ball and run like hell.”
Staff Infections have a legacy of talent on their team though, and with the right mix can be a formidable opponent. Not only do they have Gerry Heal, a player in the local leagues since the early to mid-1970s, but they’ve got starlet Lynelle Stanford and Montana John Mahoney, and a quick glance at their roster shows they’ve also picked up Joe Dukeman. Dukeman made a name for himself on the softball scene in the late ‘90s and early 2000s (including a home run derby title) but took time off only to, perhaps, be back this year. Though he was not in attendance Wednesday night.
Heather Culley and Doug Collin opened the bottom of the first for the Staff Infections with a couple of base hits and then scored as Stanford and Andrew Crowley connected for RBI base hits. Additional hits from Kim Aronson, Toni Westerholm and Mahoney pushed home three more runs and the Staff Infections were off to a fast start, sitting on a 5-2 lead.
Psycho Rocks came right back to retake the lead when Matt Roettger led off with a double and then scored on a double from Montana Wiggins. Jason Keener and Amanda Brack followed with additional RBI base hits and Fiddler continued his barrage with a two-RBI triple high off the leftfield netting for an 8-5 Psycho lead.
The Staff Infection continued to spread though, as they came back to tie the game up 8-8 when Kyle Thomas doubled and reached home on a base hit by Culley when Montana Wiggins tried to throw him out at home from leftfield, only to throw the ball to the Gas Café. Aronson struck again as well, poking a two-RBI hit to shallow left.
The two teams continued on this path through the fourth inning with each squad scoring runs and both squads turning double plays, leaving Psycho Rocks with a slim 12-11 lead heading into the fifth inning.
The difference came in the top of the fifth inning as Mixon looked to his bench to help spark a big inning, including calling on player Matt “Slank” Slankard. Slank is the son of a rogue Silicon Valley computer genius turned hacker who moved to Angel’s Camp, California and met a local organic star fruit farmer at the annual Jumping Frog Jubilee competition and eventually married her. Slank honed his skills in the Angel’s Camp youth t-ball leagues but strayed from the game to pursue his dream of becoming a professional slalom snowboarder. Once that dream died he moved to Crested Butte and tapped his “binary” DNA to help start and produce the podcast The Garage Street Journal but has returned to the diamond to rekindle his love for amateur America’s pastime.
Laura Garrison opened the big inning for Psycho Rocks with a single and Brack punched a run home with another base hit. But it was Slank’s powerbunt RBI single that brought Psycho Rocks to the next level. Rosa Greeley and Fiddler followed suit and when the Staff Infections finally turned the final out, Psycho had built a comfortable 16-11 lead.
The Psycho Rocks defense then tightened up to hold Staff Infections hitless, including a diving grab by Montana Wiggins in left field, nearly making up for his struggles hitting the cut-off man the previous four innings.
Psycho Rocks then proceeded to open the can of whup even wider in the top of the sixth inning with an eight-run, error-assisted, two-out rally to build a 24-11 lead.
Greeley and Carrie Wallace tacked on a few more runs with RBI base hits in the top of the seventh and the spread of the Staff Infection had been sufficiently squashed as Psycho Rocks closed the game out for the 27-12 win.