by Than Acuff
It was standing room only at Gothic field for the championship game Tuesday, August 14 between the Pitas Meatsticks and the Avalanche. Banners were hanging in front of the Meatsticks dugout, beer was flowing and there was even a cart slinging hot dogs.
And in the end, what happened was expected to happen, as the Meatsticks slowly but surely powered their way to a 17-10 win over the Avalanche. It was the third title in a row for the Meatsticks and the end of a perfect undefeated season for them.
Hopes were high, but guarded, for the Avalanche going into the game this year. The Avalanche was on another classic prolific post-season run, winning their opening playoff game, losing their next game to drop to the loser’s bracket before rattling off three wins in a row, including taking down the Brew Crew, to earn a spot in the finals.
But that freight train came to a screeching halt as the Meatsticks proved too much to handle for the Avalanche, and anyone else for that tmatter. Besides, even if the Avalanche had won, that would have meant a second game that night and that would have taken a major miracle to beat the Meatsticks twice.
But, hey, stranger things have happened—Trump as president, for one.
It was close and well within reach for most of the game. Fact is, though, you cannot give up anything to the Meatsticks, on offense or defense, they’re just that good. And while the Avalanche didn’t screw anything up too bad, little things here and there made the difference. Oh, and did I mention, the Meatsticks are good, as in really good.
The Avalanche appeared undaunted by the task at hand in the opening innings of the game. Adrienne Weil, Nolan Blunck and Mike Montano all tapped singles and Mikey Weil followed with a two-RBI single. Ben Reaman followed with a RBI double and the Avalanche was up 3-0.
They held the Meatsticks to just one run in the bottom of the first, giving up a relatively painless solo home run to Drew Stichter, but they struggled at the plate in the top of the second and when the Meatsticks returned to the plate, they gave a glimpse of just what they are capable of.
Roland Mason (for County Commissioner) led off knocking an opposite field double. Callie Jo pushed Mason home with a single to center, Bryan Densmore doubled, Heather Culley knocked a RBI single, Michael Villanueva connected for a sac-fly RBI and Cody Sexe destroyed a three-run home run for a 7-3 Meatsticks lead. All of that coming from the bottom of the Meatsticks batting order, as if there is one.
Still, it was only 7-3 and still so early in the game.
The Avalanche tacked on a fourth run as a double from Blunck and a single by Montano down the third-base line set up Mikey for a sac-fly RBI.
The Meatsticks attack was still somewhat subdued, but no less powerful, in the bottom of the third, as a couple of base hits set up Densmore for a three-run home run over the centerfield netting.
Okay, now it was 10-4 and the Avalanche, and their fans, were noticeably down and fearing the worst. But it didn’t happen and they got another little spark from the likes of Mallory Zimmerman and Slater Weil (it’s a family affair on the Avalanche) as Zimmerman led off with a single and Slater stroked a line-drive two-run shot to straightaway centerfield.
Unfortunately for the Avalanche, they just couldn’t hold the Meatsticks bats at bay. Scott Sanders and Heather Duryea each slapped opposite field base hits and Stichter stepped up to jack his second home run of the game. Densmore knocked another Meatstick home and they were now on top 14-6 heading into the fifth inning.
Being the cardiac kids that they are, the Avalanche put in another push, scoring three runs in the top of the fifth as Ben connected for a solo shot and Sam Reaman (again, it’s a family affair on the Avalanche) punched a two-RBI double to pull back within five runs.
They finally held the Meatsticks scoreless in the bottom of the fifth and the stage was set for a comeback with their fans energized by the team’s’ defensive effort. Billy Watson led off with a solo home run and a couple of base hits had the bases loaded with one out, but a base-running miscue led to a second out and the Meatsticks turned the third out immediately following to stop the Avalanche in their tracks.
Duryea and Stichter opened the bottom of the sixth with base hits and Mason and Jo combined to score three more Meatsticks for a 17-10 lead heading into the seventh and final inning.
That would prove too much for the Avalanche to pull off, though. Ron Chlipala did his job hitting a single but two Avalanche batters flew out and another grounded out as the Meatsticks emerged triumphant for the third year in a row.
Finally, say what you will about the Meatsticks, but give credit, as a case can be made that Stichter has brought new life to local softball the past five years as a player and sponsor, and he even invited the Avalanche players to his bar for free drinks all night after the game.