The elimination process begins
by Than Acuff
We are entering the elimination rounds of the softball post-season in the Tuesday/Thursday league as teams that lost their opening games are now fighting to stay alive in the loser’s bracket while Pita’s continues to cruise through the top half of the playoff bracket.
Thanks to the double-elimination format though, there’s always a second chance for everyone and as Whetstoner Alex Mattes-Ritz explained following their loss to Elevate (the new hottest team in softball) last Thursday, an early loss in the playoffs can lead to more games than anyone if a team keeps winning in the loser’s bracket.
“We want to get our money’s worth,” he said.
One team that got their money’s worth, out of one player specifically is the Avalanche, as seasoned veteran Ronco Chlipala led the team to a 32-5 crushing of the Eldo.
Chlipala has been playing in the local leagues for decades (perhaps at one time caught up in a pitcher’s duel with the late, great Satchel Paige). Okay, not really but… I was drinking in the Portal bar over in Somerset one time about 20 years ago and a local old-timer at the bar said that he once played against Satchel Paige when “Mr. Paige was part of a traveling Negro league team” that came through Colorado. ‘Course the old-timer was also sufficiently inebriated but who’s to say? I believed him. Then again I, too, was sufficiently inebriated.
So whether or not Chlipala played against Paige is doubtful, but Chlipala played against the Eldo Thursday and was named MVP for the game as a designated hitter batting four-for-four, including a stand-up double, and knocking in a couple of runs.
His prowess at the plate throughout the game was essential to the rest of the team’s success as they used every part of the wide-open Tommy V Field outfield left vacant by a three-person crew playing out there for the Eldo, as they were missing a player who was busy working slinging hot dogs to fans at the game.
Truth be told though, even if the Eldo had a full squad, there was nothing they, or anyone for that matter, could have done to stop the Avalanche that evening as they picked the field apart with their bats from the third base line to the first base line and every gap in between.
The Avalanche racked up a quick six runs in the bottom of the first, kicked off by a solo inside the park home run (ITPHR) from Sam Reaman. Singles from Nolan Blunck and Mallory Zimmerman set up Mikey Weil for a two-RBI base hit up the middle. Ben Reaman cleared the bases with a three-run ITPHR and Mike Pahl closed the opening scene with a RBI triple.
The Eldo did manage a run in the top of the second inning when Jeff Hearn somehow scored from second base on a pop foul that Maggie Chlipala chased and won for the catch.
A defensive stand by the Eldo in the bottom of the second inning provided a semblance of hope, highlighted by the effort of Hearn at short, who chased down a pop fly in shallow centerfield for an over-the-shoulder juggling grab.
But when the Eldo managed just one more run off a RBI triple from Patrick Cashion, the floodgates opened up as the Avalanche scored 10 runs in the bottom of the third inning.
Blunck, Ben and Sam each connected for additional ITPHRs to push six more runs in, but it was the effort of Maggie Dethloff that made the difference as Dethloff tomahawked a base hit and then stretched and got dirty for a RBI double, drawing blood in the effort and helping inspire the 10-run inning for a 16-2 lead.
The Eldo bats were noticeably silent once again and the Avalanche continued to pour down on the Eldo in the bottom of the fourth inning putting together another 10-run inning for a 26-2 lead.
Down and definitely out of the game, the Eldo could have easily just folded up shop and opted out of the remainder of the game and I don’t think anyone would have blamed them. Instead, they continued to step to the plate and take the field to play the game to its bitter end.
Pip Bailey and Mike Cunningham connected for base hits to drive in a run and Hearn punched a two-RBI triple to right field for three more Eldo runs. Cari Groce chased down a pop foul behind the plate for an over-the-shoulder grab but the Avalanche proved flawless at the plate to the end. More ITPHRs, more base hits and a first pitch two-run blast by Slater Weil over centerfield kept the scoreboard spinning (though it hasn’t been turned on in years) as the Avalanche finished off the 32-5 beat-down.
But there’s still hope for the Eldo as they head to the loser’s bracket while the Avalanche will continue their quest to face Pita’s in a title game rematch.