Lobar rolls to three-peat in Comp League
For the second year in a row, the Lobar denied the Airheads a title and maintained their domination over the competitive Crested Butte softball league.
To make matters worse, the Lobar did it by defeating them twice in a row. To make matters worser (def: even worse than worse), the Airheads lost both games by one run.
The Airheads came into the championship game red-hot, having fired through the postseason without a loss, including a win over the Lobar in the semifinals.
The loss sent the Lobar to the loser’s bracket where they edged out a 10-8 win over the Tongue & Groovers to reach the finals and a rematch with the Airheads.
The rub? The Lobar had to win the first game to force a second game, while all the Airheads needed was one win to return to take home the title.
The Lobar edged out a 5-4 win in the first game, thanks to one mighty swing and a tremendous defensive play by the Lobar.
Tied 3-3 in the top of the sixth inning, Lobar slugger Brian Murphy stepped to the plate with a runner on base and crushed a two-run shot over the left field netting for a 5-3 lead.
The Airheads threatened a comeback in their last at bat—runners in the corners, two outs and Rob Houston at the plate. Houston slapped a line drive to the gap in left center, sending the base runners charging.
Margie Wagner scored and Lauren Alkire was sent home but Lobar shortstop and Crested Butte Town Council candidate Roland Mason turned on the relay from the fence and fired home to Lori Adair, just beating the runner for the third out and forcing a second game.
The Airheads rebounded from the one-run loss with a three-run rally in the bottom of the first inning to open game two.
Singles by Dave White and Wagner put runners in the corners for Bruce Winchenbach. Michael Villanueva made a diving grab to rob Winchenbach of the base hit but White tagged up to score.
Dalynn Trujillo and Jesse Banks each connected for RBI singles and the Airheads appeared to shake off the first loss with an early 3-0 lead.
Conversely, the Lobar was determined to defend their title and took a 4-3 lead on hits from Stephany Ford and Mason as well as a solo dinger by Villanueva over right center.
The Airheads loaded the bases with one out, but squeezed just one run out before the Lobar opened up for five runs over the next two innings.
Ford and Mason connected again for RBI base hit and then the Airheads’ wheels fell off defensively, allowing Murphy to turn a routine line drive into a two run inside-the-park home run, building a 9-4 lead by the bottom of the fifth.
Maintaining the positive mental attitude first instilled by former Airhead Rob Aiken, the Airheads recovered from their defensive demise to chip away at the Lobar lead over the next two innings.
Houston drove in a run with a sac fly RBI and Rachael Brodsky drove a RBI single to center to cut the Lobar’s lead to three.
The Airheads’ defense held the Lobar scoreless through the top of the seventh inning and came out guns blazing in the bottom of the seventh, looking to pull out a comeback win for the title.
Banks roped an RBI single down the third base line to score one run and then Trujillo snuck home when the Lobar was busy disputing a call to pull within one with only one out.
The Lobar defense took a collective deep breath to refocus on the task at hand and retired the next two batters with the tying run on second to seal the 9-8 win and their third title in a row.
Crackers destroy Gas Holes to claim rec league title
Three years ago, maybe four, Chet Greunke put together a rag-tag squad of softball players to form the Firehouse Crackers. Their initiation to the rec league was successive crushings by more seasoned rec league teams throughout the season.
Nevertheless, the Crackers—and Greunke—never gave up and each and every game, Chet would rally down from the mountain in his fire truck for the game.
His role with the team changed from player to bench warmer to supporter and eventually to tailgater with a full set-up on the fire truck for fans and players alike.
Meanwhile, the team carried on through the lean years, turning the corner last season into a legitimate rec league team.
Prior to the 2009 season, the Crackers made a big move in acquiring key players from the disbanded Bushwackers and almost overnight had become a top-flight rec league team.
The transformation of the Crackers culminated last Thursday, August 20 when they crushed defending two-time rec league champions, the Gas Holes, in the finals to take the 2009 title.
It was SRO at Gothic Field and the legions of fans were treated to an exciting first two innings as the teams traded runs.
A pivotal moment came in the bottom of the second inning when the Crackers held the Gas Holes runners at bay, turning the force out at second base three plays in a row.
The Crackers offense gathered inspirado from their defensive work to score four runs in the top of the third inning.
Robyn Estes slapped a two RBI opposite field double, Hailee Stanley pushed a RBI single up the middle and Rick Barnard wheeled around on a classic high John Hopper pitch to push another Cracker home for a 7-2 lead.
The Gas Holes mustered one run in the bottom of the third before the Crackers fired off a two-out rally.
Estes and Stanley continued their offensive output combining to drive in three more Cracker runs as did Barnard who singled up the middle before a sliding grab by Gas Hole Adam Westlake in shallow left field stopped the bleeding.
Danielle Langlois led the Crackers defense in the bottom of the fourth inning with a couple of key plays at second base.
Both teams cooled off until the Crackers officially put the game out of reach with another five-run rally in the top of the sixth inning.
Once again, it was Estes, Stanley and Barnard leading the charge by driving in three runs, and Eric Beavers capped the rally with a two RBI hit.
In the Gas Holes defense, there was nothing they could have done as the Crackers hitters continued to pick apart the field with pinpoint base hits.
In fact, the one time they did hit to a player, it was a come backer to Hopper, and he flagged it down to initiate a 1-6-3 double play.
Brandon Snyder put the finishing touches on the win when he knocked down a line drive up the middle for a 1-6-3 double play and Mike Stanley pulled in the final out on a fly ball for the 17-5 Crackers win and their first, of what may be many, rec league titles…maybe.
According to Snyder, the Crackers will now make the move to comp league next year.
“That was our plan all along,” says Snyder.
As for the Gas Holes, according to Hopper, they’re making the move to the comp league as well for the 2010 season.