Greatest game ever… this year… that I watched
by Than Acuff
I want to thank Leah Fisher, who came up to me before the title game Wednesday night to say that she found a softball article I wrote from 1997. That’s 20-plus years of covering the local leagues.
“Saigon… sh**, I’m still in Saigon.”
But the title game Wednesday, August 15 at Gothic field between Psycho Rocks and Pitas OGs is exactly why I keep coming back summer after summer because it was the greatest game ever… this year… that I watched. Possibly top three over the past 20+ years, too.
“Thank you, sir, may I have another.”
It had revenge, power, precision, defense, a blow out, a comeback, another comeback and a game-winning home run.
Psycho Rocks was peaking at just the right time, rattling off a couple of wins to earn a spot in the finals against Pita’s OGs. OGs was OGs, dominant all season long except for their one loss to Psycho Rocks. So there was some history between the teams and Psycho Rocks wanted to be the team to end the three-year reign by Pitas.
But Pitas had other plans. After giving up two runs in the top of the first inning, they rattled off seven runs in the bottom of the first, spraying the field with base hits. Melvin Seyfried and Rayna Clark led off with base hits and scored on an uncharacteristic bloop base hit from Drew Stichter. Uncharacteristic only because he either ropes line drives or crushes home runs.
Garrett McBride and Heather Cooper scored a couple more OGs with base hits, Beckett Grigsby smacked a RBI single off of the fence and Lindsay Deckman closed out the opening rally with a RBI single and a 7-2 OGs lead.
Psycho Rocks looked to respond immediately as singles from Matt Roettger and Claire Bartholomew had two on with no outs. A line out kept the runners in place but Amanda Brack stroked a RBI single down the left field line and Psycho was about to go Psycho. But they didn’t, as their next two hitters popped out and OGs tacked on three more runs on a solo home run from Stichter, a couple of well-placed base hits and RBI hits from Grigsby and Mark Bortolin.
The third inning was somewhat subdued, with neither team producing much with one major exception: Clark. Psycho Rock Eli Fiddler popped a high fly ball to shallow left field and Clark charged in to make a sprinting, reaching grab to deny the hit.
The fourth inning played out much like the third in terms of offense and defense. While Montana Wiggins did connect for a RBI single, that was the only run for either team but Psycho Rocks third baseman Jason Keener was on fire in the hot corner with a couple of MVP-worthy defensive plays.
Psycho Rocks was set up once again to turn the game around in the top of the fifth inning with the bases loaded and one out, but their bats fell silent at just the wrong time and the OGs made them pay, in a big way.
A single by Clark coupled with a bad toss turned into a two-RBI base hit. Stichter crushed a two-run home run, Cooper punched a RBI double to left and Connor Coughlin drove a RBI double into the outfield for a 16-4 OGs lead heading into the top of the sixth inning.
At this point the game looked as good as done. Psycho had been leaving runners on base all game long and their usual power hitters were not so powerful. It was obvious they would need two big innings at the plate while holding the OGs to nothing if they were going to pull it off.
Player/manager Will Mixon brought the team in for an impromptu meeting and shared some thoughts. What those thoughts were only the Psycho Rocks know but my guess is there were some F-bombs and the team meeting was just what they needed.
Down 12 runs, Psycho Rocks started to find their psychoness, getting back to their four rules of softball: Look at it, hit it, run it and don’t F it up. It didn’t start so well as their lead-off hitter lined out but then things got going as Wiggins, Brack and Dakota Wiggins all connected for doubles to score two runs. Rosa Greeley and Fiddler followed with back-to-back RBI triples, another base hit scored another run, and Keener maintained his MVP effort golfing a two-run home run to pull the Rocks to within five runs.
Remarkably, they kept their hopes alive as they retired the side in the bottom of the sixth inning including a running, leaping and rolling catch by Montana and the stage was set for more Psycho heroics at the plate in what could be their last at-bat of the season.
Again, the lead- off hitter failed to get on base but Psycho continued rocking as Brack, Dakota and Greeley all singled and scored. Keener tapped a RBI single, Sara Chesebrough came up huge tying the game 16-16 with a RBI single, Roettger gave the lead to Psycho with a RBI single, and they built a little cushion as Montana and Brack connected for RBI doubles to finish the top of the seventh scoring a total of 11 runs and taking a 20-16 lead, their first lead of the game since the top of the first inning.